The AMA Supercross series made its return to Salt Lake City for the penultimate round of the 2021 season, with the 250SX East class racers returning to racing after a 10-week break, and Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence scored a close second-place finish. His teammate Ken Roczen ran out front in the 450SX main event, but a mistake limited him to an eventual sixth-place result, while fellow 450SX rider Chase Sexton shook off a practice crash from earlier in the day to finish fifth.
The 250SX main saw Lawrence complete lap one of 19 in fourth place, then move into third on lap three. That’s where he stayed until advancing a spot with six laps remaining. The young Australian then attempted to chase down the leading Jo Shimoda but came up just over a second short at the end.
In the 450SX main event, Roczen nailed the holeshot, with Marvin Musquin and Eli Tomac not far behind. The German led the pack for 14 or 25 laps, building an advantage of over two and a half seconds, but a mistake exiting a corner resulted in him going down and dropping to sixth. Sexton took advantage of Roczen’s fall and also moved by Jason Anderson on the same lap to sit fourth, but Dylan Ferrandis got by him with three laps remaining. At the finish, Sexton was fifth, with Roczen just over a second back in sixth.
- The Media Day riding session took place Friday, giving the riders time to test out the track layout at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The teams were very familiar with the facility and area, having spent the latter part of last season competing in seven races at the same venue.
- Round 16 saw the return of the 250SX East Region riders, including Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence, Phoenix Racing Honda’s Josh Osby, and TiLube Honda’s Maxwell Sanford.
- Team Honda HRC riders participated in media interviews leading up to race day. Ken Roczen had a virtual talk with NBC Sports’ Motorsports Talk on Thursday afternoon and a face-to-face sit-down with NBC producers on Friday, while Chase Sexton took part in a taped interview with Jim Beaver’s nationally syndicated Down & Dirty Radio Show. Hunter and Jett Lawrence participated in Race Day Live on Thursday via Zoom, and Sexton was live in the show’s studio on Saturday afternoon.
- Free practice saw Sexton finish on top in the 450SX class with a 48.459” lap time, while Roczen had the sixth-fastest time. Jett Lawrence had the third-best lap time in the 250SX East class.
- In combined 450SX qualifying-practice times, Sexton was sixth-fastest with a best of 47.282”, despite a hard crash in the final session, and Roczen was next at 47.284”. SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts riders Broc Tickle and Benny Bloss were 14th and 15th, respectively.
- In the 250SX East class, Lawrence posted the fastest time in the final qualifying session and the third-best time overall, at 47.906”. Phoenix Racing Honda rider Joshua Osby was seventh with a time of 50.608”, while TiLube Honda’s Maxwell Sanford was 21st. Also of note were Team BWR rider Wilson Fleming (11th-fastest) and privateer Geran Stapleton (14th).
- The 250SX East class saw Lawrence take the holeshot and ride to a flawless win in heat 2, while Osby and Sanford also qualified directly to the main event by finishing fourth and fifth.
- Sexton returned from his qualifying crash to post an impressive second-place finish in the first 450SX heat race, while Tickle was sixth. In heat 2, Roczen posted a third-place result, and Bloss was seventh.
- As a podium finisher, Lawrence partook in the post-race virtual press conference on Saturday evening.
- Though the Team Honda HRC trucks are staying in Salt Lake City until the round 17 finale, which takes place at the same venue this Saturday, the team and riders headed back to Southern California to regroup.
Ken Roczen 94“What a bummer, once again. I got the holeshot in the main and gapped the field, but just found myself on the ground after tucking the front before the whoops. I dropped back to sixth, and that's where we finished as well. There’s not much that I can say about it, to be honest; it’s unfortunate. I'm finding myself on the ground lately in general, which normally is not my style. I'm just trying to put my team and myself on the top step and it just hasn't been working out, so I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Chase Sexton 23“Round one here in Salt Lake City started off rough. I had a big crash in qualifying, which could’ve ended my night; it was pretty gnarly. After the crash I was really sore and my heel, left shoulder and right hip were pretty banged up. We did some work and we got myself to where I was able to race. I had a pretty good heat race, coming from from a ways back. I didn't get a good start in the main event, but like the heat race, I just tried to fight my way up. I feel like I was riding pretty good, but kind of lost it with about five minutes to go and got passed by [Dylan] Ferrandis. It was a good top-five after what could’ve been no race at all. It's something to build off of and we have another race to go, so we’ll just try and get better.”
Jett Lawrence 18“I started the day off good, getting P4 in the first qualifier, and I was able to go fastest in the second one, putting me third overall on the qualifying side. In the second heat race I got a good start and won that, so I had first gate pick. In the main event I was a little slow out of the gate, which didn't help. I was fourth on the first lap, and I was able to make a couple passes and get to second. I tried doing a little last-lap charge to Jo [Shimoda] but made a few mistakes in the rhythm, which didn't help me. He nailed the long rhythm, so good job to him, but it would’ve been nice to have those points. Overall, it was a good race. I felt good to see everyone and get back to racing. I was happy with it and can't wait till next weekend for the East/West shootout.”
Erik Kehoe - Team Manager“The team did a great job preparing for and adjusting to the tighter track conditions here at Salt Lake City. The higher altitude didn’t affect Jett, as he rode strong all day to ultimately charge to second place in the 250SX East class main event. Everyone is looking forward to seeing Jett and Hunter face off in the East/West Showdown next Saturday! Chase showed tremendous resilience and determination after a huge crash in qualifying. He pushed through the soreness to take a hard-earned fifth place finish in the main event. Ken executed a perfect holeshot and led the main event for 14 laps. Unfortunately, he crashed on lap 15 and remounted but struggled to get his pre-crash momentum going again. Ultimately he settled in for sixth place.”