Pro Motocross Season Starts With Dominant Performance By Honda
- Jett Lawrence flawless in 450 debut, with 1-1 tally at Fox Raceway
- Chase Sexton second overall following extremely close battle with his teammate
- Hunter Lawrence takes overall win in 250 division after a tough week
- In fulltime pro debut, Chance Hymas 12th in 250 class
Team Honda HRC began the 2023 AMA Pro Motocross series the same way they finished the AMA Supercross series two weeks earlier—unbeatable. The Fox Raceway National in Pala, California, saw the team top both classes, with Jett Lawrence posting a flawless 1-1 moto tally in his AMA premier-class debut and brother Hunter Lawrence going 3-1 for the 250 overall win. It was the first time that two brothers have both scored overall wins on the same day. Meanwhile, newly crowned AMA Supercross Champion Chase Sexton was a solid second overall in the 450 division, and Chance Hymas overcame crashes to finish 12th overall in the 250 class during his fulltime pro debut.
The CRF450RWE of Jett Lawrence exited turn 1 ahead of the pack in moto 1, and the young Australian set sail. Having suffered a practice crash earlier in the day, Sexton was fourth off the start. He quickly got by Cooper Webb and then—a couple of minutes before the midway point—Dylan Ferrandis, but the 10-second gap to the front was too much to overcome. Lawrence nailed the holeshot again in the second outing, but Sexton was up to second place by the completion of lap 1. The Illinois native hounded his teammate for the entire moto but wasn’t ultimately able to attempt a safe pass on the slippery and choppy track. In the end, the difference was just one second.
Hunter Lawrence didn’t get a great start in the first moto of the year, completing lap 1 in 10th place, but he went to work advancing through the pack. It took him some time to get going, but despite riding in pain in his ribs due to a weekday training crash, he was in the top five by the midway point, then up to fourth a lap later. He continued to push, and he made a last-lap pass to take third. Hymas was 17th after one lap, quickly climbed a few spots, then fell and had to recover. With three laps left, he moved into 15th, and that’s where he would finish. Lawrence made life easier on himself in moto 2 by being first across the holeshot line on his CRF250R, and he was never really challenged on his way to an eight-second win. Hymas ran in the top five for the first half of the race, but a tip-over contributed to him finishing an eventual 12th.
- Team Honda HRC riders Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence and Hunter Lawrence all participated in the pre-season press conference, which took place on Thursday at Pala Casino Spa Resort. Afterward, Chance Hymas joined his teammates and other riders for a riding session just down the road at Fox Raceway. Media Day was also Hymas’s 18th birthday.
- With press activities being a day earlier than at most rounds, the riders had something of an off-day on Friday, although Sexton did a video interview with Game Breakers, a mainstream sports show on Amazon Prime.
- Team Honda HRC dominated 450 morning practice, with Jett Lawrence and Sexton going 1-2 in the 450 class. In the 250 ranks, Hunter was third, with Hymas 11th-best.
- During 450 action, Jett turned the fastest lap in moto 1, while Sexton had the best moto 2 lap. In both outings, the teammates were the only two riders to dip into the 2’26” range. Hunter had the best 250 moto 2 lap, also in the 2’26” range.
- With Hunter’s victory, Honda stretched its record of most AMA Pro Motocross 250 overall wins at Fox Raceway to six (three more than second place). All of those are at the hands of the Lawrence brothers, as Jett earned the previous five. Honda also grew its record of 250 moto wins at the venue to nine.
- With Jett’s victory, Honda takes over sole possession of the record for the most AMA Pro Motocross 450 overall wins at Fox Raceway, with three (the previous two by Sexton), and ties Kawasaki for most 450 moto wins, with five.
- Fox Raceway has been good to Jett Lawrence over the course of his career. It’s where he earned his career-first 250 overall win, in 2020, and he won that class five-consecutive times (the series visited the track twice in 2021 and 2022). It is also now the venue where Jett earned his first 450 moto and overall wins.
- While this Fox Raceway series opener was certainly positive for Team Honda HRC, last year’s was arguably even better, as the squad finished first and second in every moto.
- Of course this race marked the first AMA Pro Motocross 450 moto and overall wins for Jett Lawrence. It also gives Sexton the 28th and 29th 450 podium results of his career, and for Hunter Lawrence, it marks the second 250 overall win and eighth 250 moto win.
- JCR Honda off-road racer Ryan Surratt made a cameo appearance at Fox Raceway and finished a commendable 14th overall, with 11-17 moto results.
- Sexton and the Lawrence brothers all participated in the post-race press conference.
- From Pala, Team Honda HRC heads north to Rancho Cordova, California, where they’ll compete this Saturday at the Hangtown National.
Jett Lawrence 18
“I definitely didn’t expect a day like this. I felt like I knew where I was coming in, but jumping up to this class, everyone is fast and fit. That second moto, I kept looking over my shoulder, thinking I gave myself a gap, just to see the 23 even closer than before! I find battles like these fun, though; they make me a better rider and they test how well I can handle the pressure. I knew Chase wasn’t going anywhere and it would be a long 35 minutes, but it was great having a clean battle. I expect this whole season to be a chess match, and it's nice to take the first round.”
Chase Sexton 23
“We’re off to a solid start. I didn’t feel like I had the speed early in the day, and that crash in practice didn’t help my confidence. In the first moto I just rode sloppy, but I kept building and getting more comfortable throughout the day. In the second moto I felt like I was me from outdoors last year. We just have to keep building confidence and making the bike even better. I feel like I’m prepared to take this fight all the way to the end.”
Hunter Lawrence 96
“That first moto was me just taking what I could get; I was pushing as far as I could with what the track was giving me, but I didn’t want to throw away a good finish. In the second moto I put a lot of emphasis on the start; I knew I needed that to make my life easier. Coming through the pack on this track is so difficult, with the way it forms. Once you get into a rhythm, it’s very hard to drop the hammer and start picking guys off. I’m excited with the way we started the season, and I can’t wait to keep this going.”
Chance Hymas 832
“I’m not necessarily happy with the day, but I’m relieved to get round 1 down. It had been a while since I'd been on the gate with all of these guys, and I really didn’t know what to expect. Now, I know where I’m at and how I can get to where those other guys are. If I can stay in there towards the end of the races, when guys are dropping like flies, I can be successful. I’m proud of myself for what I did today, but I’m not satisfied.”
Lars Lindstrom - Team Manager
“These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of amazing things happening at the races. It seems like all of our hard work from the past years is being paid off this year, and we’ll try to appreciate every win and realize that these times don’t come around often and can end at some point. I was really happy to welcome Chance Hymas onto the team as a fulltime member, and he showed that he can run up front. Hunter was hurting after a big crash earlier in the week; I thought it would be a salvage race, but after getting a special rubdown from our physio friend Doc G [Dr. H. Rey Gubernick], he was able to grunt it out and ride amazing. The highly anticipated 450 race was like watching poetry in motion. Both Chase and Jett have the most incredible style, and it was honestly beautiful to see them floating around what everyone else made look like a brutal track. It’s going to be an interesting summer.”