Sexton Masterful at Unadilla MX
- Sexton retakes 450 points lead with dominant 1-1 performance
- Hunter and Jett Lawrence third and fourth overall in 250 class
Not merely picking up where he had left off before the final break in the AMA Pro Motocross season, Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton raised his performance to a new level at the Unadilla National in upstate New York, convincingly winning both 450 motos and reclaiming the lead in the championship battle. Along the way, the Illinois native overtook title-rival Eli Tomac in both motos and set both fastest lap times. Teammate Ken Roczen was fifth overall via 5-7 finishes, while the 250 class saw Hunter and Jett Lawrence finish third and fourth overall, each notching a second-place finish in a moto.
Roczen ran at the front in the early going of 450 moto 1, while Sexton looked to recover after completing lap 1 in sixth place. Tomac took over the lead in the middle part of the race, but Sexton was relentless, advancing to second by the midway point while cutting into Tomac’s lead. He put in a clean pass with six laps remaining and eventually reached the checkered flag with a winning margin of nearly 13 seconds, with Roczen finishing fifth. Sexton started better in moto 2 and sat third after one lap. By lap 5 he had passed the leading Tomac, after which he grew his advantage to nearly 16 seconds by the finish. Roczen crossed the line in seventh place after spending most of the race in sixth.
The 250 action proved to be erratic and unpredictable at Unadilla, and that was certainly true for the Lawrence brothers. After completing moto 1’s first lap in fifth, Jett worked his way forward, only to crash while battling for second. He and Hunter linked up to work their way forward, only for Jett to fall a second time while running fourth with five laps remaining. Hunter went on to finish second, while Jett remounted 10th and could only climb to seventh by the time the checkers flew. The second outing saw Jett start second, with Hunter quickly latching on in third. Both riders suffered falls in the moto, but Jett recovered to take second. Meanwhile, Hunter slowed when he suspected a bike issue that is thought to have actually been a rock temporarily becoming jammed in his rear-brake pedal and then dislodging after a bit; he eventually recovered to finish fifth.
- During the two-weekend break since the previous round at Washougal, Team Honda HRC members had the rare opportunity to break up their routines a bit. Team manager Lars Lindstrom traveled to Europe to attend the Swedish MXGP round with Team HRC, Ken Roczen took his family on a getaway to the Bahamas, and Chase Sexton worked on moving into a new house.
- Team Honda HRC test rider Trey Canard was missing at Unadilla as he recovers from foot surgery performed during the break.
- For protection from the rocks for which this event is well-known, Team Honda HRC riders Ken Roczen and Jett Lawrence both opted to run Cycra handguards at Unadilla.
- Red Riders topped qualifying in both classes, with Roczen (450) and Jett Lawrence (250) doing the honors. Jett’s 2’12.777” time was particularly impressive, one-and-three-quarters seconds better than anyone else in either class! Hunter Lawrence was third-best in the 250 division, while Sexton was fifth-fastest in the 450 ranks.
- Once again, weather conditions were mild at Unadilla, with temperatures ranging from 69 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit for the motos.
- Team Honda HRC riders posted the fastest lap times in all four motos at Unadilla. In the 450 class, Sexton’s moto 1 time was best by a margin of nearly seven-tenths of a second, and his moto 2 time was over one-and-a-half seconds better than anyone else! In 250 racing, Jett Lawrence had the fastest time in moto 1, and Hunter Lawrence had the best moto 2 lap.
- Unadilla marked the third time this season that Sexton has earned a 450 overall win, and the fifth time in his career. He also notched the seventh and eighth 450 moto wins of his career.
- Sexton’s 1-1 Unadilla performance extended Team Honda HRC’s 450 moto-win streak at the venue to six, with Roczen having won both motos last year and in 2019 (there was no Unadilla National in 2020).
- Team Honda HRC’s Yoshimura Award of Excellence for round 9 went to practice technician Thomas Harris, who also wrenches for Honda amateur racer Chance Hymas. Harris spent a good chunk of the break working the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s ranch, and he was on hand at Unadilla as an extra mechanic. As is the case for all winners of the award, Harris brought home a unique trophy created by Yoshimura.
- Team Honda HRC and everyone at American Honda congratulate Team HRC and Tim Gajser, who clinched his fifth world championship over the weekend, at the Finnish MXGP round.
- Following a brief two-round stint without the red plate, Sexton once again has the 450 class points lead leaving Unadilla, albeit with a slim one-point advantage over title-rival Eli Tomac. Jett Lawrence’s 250-class edge over brother Hunter Lawrence was reduced slightly, to 26 points.
- Only three rounds remain in the series, and next up is the Budds Creek National in Mechanicsville, Maryland, on Saturday.
Ken Roczen 94
“Unadilla was somewhat of a step in the right direction. I definitely showed some speed on the day, but I really struggled with riding super-tight and my right arm being extremely pumped up, to where I had a very hard time holding on, especially with how choppy it was and the speed of the track. That unfortunately made me go backwards, especially in the first moto. I made some passes and was leading for a little bit, but I had to let it go. It’s a bummer, but I’ll try and work on it. We went fifth and seventh for fifth overall. Obviously, I was looking forward to trying to get on the podium; that didn’t happen, but I’m working hard at home to try and come back and hopefully put it on the podium at these last few rounds. Thanks to the team; they’ve been supporting me really good.”
Chase Sexton 23
“Today was awesome. I liked the conditions, which were similar to what I grew up riding on. In practice I was really struggling with trying to adapt to it being dryer and choppier than usual. We had to make more bike changes than I have been, but I didn’t change it from moto 1 to moto 2. I felt pretty comfortable for the race, even though the track could bite you really easily; I had a few close calls in the first moto. You really had to be on your game, and today was one of those days where I felt like I was in control and flowing really well. This means a lot, as this is one of my favorite tracks to come to; it has a lot of history. I’ve been wanting to have a good race here for a long time, and I’m pumped with how today went.”
Jett Lawrence 18
“If you want an example of when it’s not your day, it was not my day today! [laughs] The riding side of things was great—I felt really good—but I think in the first moto I was just pushing too much. I was riding the track faster than it was supposed to be ridden at that point in time; I was washing a lot everywhere, and over-leaning. I had two crashes, but thankfully I was okay apart from some road rash on my back. The second moto I got a really good start but again pushed too hard and went down again—not an ideal day.”
Hunter Lawrence 96
“It was an okay day. The first moto wasn’t too bad; we had an average start and then fought back to second, which was really good. In the second moto we were in a great position—we had the overall—and then ran into some issues mechanically, which funnily enough resolved themselves. We were able to finish the race, thankfully, and salvage what we could. I’m not happy by any means, but we’ll take it.”
Lars Lindstrom - Team Manager
“Just like we’ve had other weekends, it was an up-and-down day for the team—struggled in some ways but absolutely crushed it in others. I think the thing to focus on this time is Chase’s extreme dominance and the way he was able to do something to Eli Tomac that no one else really has ever done. It speaks volumes, and we’re all just so stoked for him to take the red plate back—can’t wait for the next one!”