The Factory Connection Racing Honda team defined the term bittersweet on Saturday afternoon at Fox Raceway in California. On the same day the team announced it will not return to racing in 2021—the search for a new title sponsor now over due to the late date to secure a new deal—the team also enjoyed an incredible performance in the final moto of the 2020 racing season. Jett Lawrence scored his first-ever Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross overall victory with 1-2 moto scores, and was part of a poetic podium sweep in the team’s final race, with Jeremy Martin, Lawrence and Jo Shimoda going 1-2-3 in the race.
In addition, 450 racers Chase Sexton and Christian Craig, who both raced as part of the GEICO Honda 250 team in Monster Energy Supercross this season, went 1-2 in the final 450 moto of the season on their Honda HRC factory machines.
The only missing element was a 250 National Motocross Championship, which Martin narrowly missed. He took second for the season, 13 points behind Dylan Ferrandis. Martin finished the day second overall with 4-1 scores.
Lawrence owned the day with his 1-2, finally grabbing his first career podium in the biggest way possible.
“It definitely feels good,” said Lawrence. “That’s what we work up to, is to be on top of the box. This year I was shooting to be on the podium as much as I can, just to get on the podium. It’s funny that my first-ever podium is an overall win. It definitely feels great to finally get this done and under my belt. Everyone has told me the first one is always the hardest. The next one is a lot easier because you mentally know it. It puts you on a very good mentality for next season. Definitely my progress from the start of the year to now is a big difference. I’m glad that we improved. If we didn’t we would be scratching our heads.”
Lawrence ended his rookie season an impressive fourth in the standings.
Martin was second overall on the day to go along with his second in the series.
“I knew that I could be competitive for a championship, I knew that I could win races, I knew Dylan was probably going to be my hardest guy to try to crack and beat, which ended up proving to be so,” said Martin. “He beat me in the championship and I was second. But I felt like for what I’ve been through, I knew that the fight that I have, I feel like a lot of the guys that are out there are really fast. They’re really talented, especially the guys coming up like my teammate, Jett. But I feel like for what I’ve been through, I got a resurgence of fire and motivation to be able to try to come back and try to win. So I felt like I was probably more motivated than a lot of guys on the line, and I was willing to suffer and fight. Obviously we didn’t win it, but I think I showed that motivation throughout the entire summer.”
Shimoda logged the best result of his rookie season with a strong third in the second moto, with 9-3 moto scores for fifth overall, also a career best. He had to fight off veteran Shane McElrath for third in that moto.
“Podium in the moto felt so good!” said Shimoda. “In qualifying I felt good. I was running around top four for awhile but some guys passed me on last lap in both practices. I was eighth overall which I was okay with. First moto, I crashed in the first corner from hitting someone and went from 38th to 8th which was good, kept me pushing. I got a sixth-place start and made pass on Shane [McElrath] and [Jarrett] Frye for third and again kept good speed. I had a mistake on three lap before the end, stalled my bike and had to repass Shane for my first podium. Really happy to end the year with the podium!”
Carson Mumford also continued his improvement, tying his career-best with ninth overall, ending the year with three-straight top tens. He went 11-8 in the motos.
“So I made a mistake in qualifying and jumped during the first lap, with the wheels on the ground flag,” said Mumford. “So they took away my fast lap and I was 28th after the first session. I knew I just had to put in solid laps in the second session, and then on the first lap, they had put some water down and I got wheelspin and endoed so hard on the step up. I popped my jaw out of place and my hearing in one ear was messed up, sounded like I was underwater. It really hurt bad. I was sitting there just trying to regroup and get a lap in, I got 17th overall in qualifying. There was no way I wasn’t going to race. I’ve pushed things aside before. First moto was good, it was tough with the bad gate pick but I charged really hard, I think that’s why I just had a little low energy in mid-way through moto one, but I felt better at the end and made some passes. Second moto, I gave it everything I had. I wanted to hold off the 14 [Ferrandis] and I did my best to hold him off. I think I used a little too much energy riding that pace, that’s why [Brandon] Hartranft got me late in the race. I just tried as hard as I could. I really wish we had three more races, I feel like I was learning and progressing every weekend and maybe I could have been around the podium with a few more.”
On the downside, Hunter Lawrence was unable to join in the team’s impressive final run after re-injuring his shoulder in practice.
The 2020 season concludes with more milestones logged by the team, which began competing in 1998. Sexton logged the 2020 250SX East Championship, Shimoda was named 2020 250 Supercross Rookie of the Year, and Lawrence and Martin combined for four wins in the nine-round Pro Motocross Championship, as well as second and fourth in points.
GEICO Honda Results
Fox Raceway National
October 10, 2020
1. Jett Lawrence
2. Jeremy Martin
5. Jo Shimoda
9. Carson Mumford