After the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship missed racing in Massachusetts in 2020, its return to The Wick 338 delivered both a big turnout from fans and more great action on the racetrack. As much as things have changed since 2019 (the last time the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship raced at The Wick 338 in Southwick, Massachusetts), some things still remain the same.
One of those things that has not changed is RJ Hampshire. He has the speed, he has the fitness, he has the program, he just makes costly mistakes. Hampshire could be on a three-race winning streak at this point leaving this weekend, but that’s not the case. At High Point Raceway he was checking out in the first moto but then his chain broke. At the last round in Michigan, Hampshire got into the lead, and looked like he was going to rebound from High Point's tough blow with a moto win to off the RedBud National. He did not. Moto two he had the lead again and was not able to capitalize because, you guessed it, he went down. That’s at least three motos he was in the driver’s seat for but did not come home victorious in. Fortunately for Hampshire, he did still win the overall last week with his 2-2 moto finishes. Again at Southwick he had the speed, he just has had the mistakes that he has been known for. He came into the day and lead the 250 class in qualifying after a strong, faster second session. Then, for the third round in a row, Hampshire positioned himself well off of the start and was able to make quick passes to get into the lead until he once again, had costly mistakes. In the first moto, he got into the lead and then went down. GasGas’ Michael Mosiman looked like he would be the benefactor from Hampshire’s mistake until he crashed six laps later in the same section! Hunter Lawrence took to the lead, where he would remain for the final six laps before taking his first moto win since the 2019 Spring Creek National. Hampshire caught back up to Hunter Lawrence but the #24 tipped over in a turn and dropped from the rear fender of the leader. Hampshire came through in second.
Behind the front runners, championship contenders struggled. Justin Cooper got an uncharacteristic bad start and found himself in 22nd. Jeremy Martin went down and was 30th after one lap. Jett Lawrence landed on the back of a wild Jalek Swoll, slamming face first into the sand. His visor busted off, he tossed his sand-covered goggles, and got going again. Jett said after the race that he almost went down getting around Swoll in the same section the lap prior, so the next lap he went to the opposite side, and it still cost him. The championship leader tipped over in a turn on his own later in the race and had to fight from outside the top 20 to get as far forward as he could. Cooper, Martin, and Jett Lawrence charged, gaining as many positions and points as possible. Cooper came through sixth, Martin 11th, and Jett eventually came home in ninth after his brother took the checkered flag. Hampshire recouped and went after Hunter at one point but fell...again. The #24 still managed to finish second, as Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda grabbed third place—his first moto podium of the season.
Unfortunately for Husqvarna, the second moto was more of the same for Hampshire. He positioned himself great off the start, got the race lead, lost it via crash, got going again, and tipped over again. He dropped to fourth after the first mistake, but the second one dropped him back to seventh (he eventually came home sixth, so his 2-6 gave him fourth overall). Cooper returned to his front running position when Hampshire faltered in moto two, and he started to lead a fast group of Shimoda, the Lawrence brothers, and Colt Nichols. Hunter managed to charge around Shimoda and then Cooper as the older Australian brother finished 1-1 for the first overall win of his career.
“Pretty happy with how the day went,” Hunter Lawrence said in a media coral afterwards. “One-one, it don’t get much better than that, thankfully, so it was pretty awesome, pretty awesome day.”
After an injury-derailed year in 2020 when he contemplated giving up racing professionally because of so many health issues, Hunter could not have had a bigger smile on the podium.
“Dude, I’ve been to hell and back like five times it feels like in the past two years,” he said. “When you’re in the lowest of lows you always dream of it but you can never actually visualize it and see it because you’re in a hole, you’re sucking, you’re injured, you’re not healthy, it’s so fricken hard. So the will power, the mental strength and just the hard work to pull yourself out of the hole and then build on it to get to where we are now, it’s awesome. So I’m super proud of myself.”
His little brother bested Shimoda as well but was not able to pass Cooper. Cooper said after the race, he was pretty spent from his charge in the first moto but knew he had to dig deeper and find enough to keep the #18 behind him, which he did.
“I really didn’t have the energy to keep a really strong pace," said Cooper. "And once Jett got behind me in the second moto...obviously, the championship came into my mind and I pulled everything out to try and get away from him. But yeah, definitely paid the price by giving it all I had in that first moto to make it up to sixth.”
Cooper’s second in moto two after a hard-fought sixth in moto one gave him third overall ahead of Hampshire. Even though the two tied for points on the day, Cooper’s better second-moto finish gave him the better position as Cooper’s second bested Hampshire’s sixth. As the battle between the #32 and the #18 heated up on the track, so did the battle in points as Cooper gained nine points on the Honda HRC rider.
“I’m fired up, too,” Cooper said in response to Jett’s comments on the podium. “I think I showed that in the first moto that I want this really bad and I gave it all I had today, and I’ll continue to do that until the season ends. And I’m sure he’ll do that too, so may the best man win this thing.”
Shimoda’s steady progression each weekend landed him his first moto podium of the season in moto one and then his fourth in moto two gave the Japanese rider the first overall podium of his career. In the post-race press conference, he attributed his day to better starts and latching onto the race leaders as quickly as possible. He was proud of the end result.
“Definitely nice feeling," said Shimoda. "A podium on supercross and podium on outdoors [motocross] feels a little different. Outdoors I feel kinda better because it’s a long moto, like the fast guys could catch you or if you had a good pace then you have to super consistent and not making mistakes for 35 minutes. The feeling of the podium today was much better than a supercross. ...Yeah, I feel like I did a lot more work [to earn it].”
While Mosiman led laps in the first moto before coughing it up to Hunter Lawrence, the rest of his day he was outside of the top five as he finished 7-7 for seventh overall.
“Today was a very tough day with a lot of highs and a lot of lows,” Mosiman said in a post-race release from the team. “I led some laps and I felt good on the bike but I think there’s some stuff we can improve on. I’m still getting my legs under me after being out for a couple races and I’m still coming back from that, but I think this is really good to build on. I’m glad to be healthy and ready for Millville, one of my favorite races.”
Martin’s struggles from the first moto carried over to moto two as he went down with Swoll. Fortieth after lap one, he managed to crack into the top 20 but his 11-14 day only produced 17 points on the day. His 125 points sits 79 points back from Jett’s 204.
Privateer Luke Renzland managed a 23rd-place finish on his Husqvarna TC 125 in moto one but the #443 did not lineup for the second moto, giving him 40th overall on the day.
|1||Hunter Lawrence||Landsborough Australia||1 - 1||Honda CRF250R|
|2||Jo Shimoda||Suzuka Japan||3 - 4||Kawasaki KX250F|
|3||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY United States||6 - 2||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL United States||2 - 6||Husqvarna FC 250|
|5||Colt Nichols||Muskogee, OK United States||4 - 5||Yamaha YZ250F|
In the 450 Class, the question entering the day was will anyone be able to stop Dylan Ferrandis? When the gate dropped in moto one and he started side-by-side with his teammate Aaron Plessinger but was followed by several of the top riders, we thought the #14 might get tested. But he checked out, leading all 15 laps to take his third moto win of the season. In the second moto, he started outside of the top six and had Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb, Adam Cianciarulo, and Marvin Musquin in front of him with Eli Tomac, Chase Sexton, and Justin Barcia behind him. It was time for a real test. Roczen made quick work of Webb, who eventually finished fifth in the moto to earn a season-best fifth overall with 6-5 moto finishes, as Ferrandis scooted past Craig and Musquin. Roczen led the first half of the moto but Webb and Cianciarulo kept him honest and within reach. While Ferrandis was on the gas, the #3 Kawasaki machine behind him was as well, turning from Bruce Banner into the Hulk. Tomac executed a pass on Ferrandis then charged all the way up to and around Roczen—which was exactly what Ferrandis was hoping to do as well. Late in the moto, Ferrandis’ bike was smoking some and he got a pit board to secure third and not push too hard, but the French native said later he was disappointed with his riding because he believes he could have given the #94 a battle to the finish for second. Ferrandis did not need to get around Roczen to secure the overall (his 1-3 finishes earned him his fourth overall win in the first five rounds) but he was definitely up for the challenge. When asked about Tomac’s pace, Ferrandis said he had no answer for the typical ET3 beast-mode ride.
“I don’t think I could match Eli’s speed in moto two, he was really on fire and riding really well,” Ferrandis said. “But yeah, I feel like I could have came back on Ken and tried to challenge him in the last lap. So yeah, for sure was frustrated about that. Also frustrated a little bit because I had a small crash so yeah, without small crash, maybe I could have passed Ken, I don’t know.”
Tomac’s result of eighth in the first moto was nothing to write home about, but for the third week in a row, he turned it on come the second moto like we have been accustomed to seeing him do the last few years, proving he is still a capable race winner in this field.
“Yeah, the second motos have been great,” Tomac said. “I look back at the last three weeks and I’m like, What is going in moto one? I haven’t totally figured it out yet. Maybe it’s a little bit of a start position for the past two weeks but this week there’s no excuse, I started in almost the same spot in moto two and was able to come through people. ...Gotta figure something out, maybe a little bit of start position, at least I’m getting one of those wins in there. But the way I’ve been riding in the second motos I’m like, Dang I want that overall but moto one is not cutting it so I’ve gotta figure it out.
Barcia came through fourth in the second moto to earn third overall behind Ferrandis’ 1-3 and Roczen’s 4-2. The #51 said he made several bike changes (including forks, shock, and linkage) but he does not blame his early season results on missing on setup. He’s having fun, working hard, and has a supportive team around him. He said when he saw riders in front of him, he just charged his hardest to the finish.
“I went full beast mode,” Barcia said on his late-race charge. “I got stuck behind Christian for quite a while, he was definitely riding good and I couldn’t get around him. Then, I finally made the pass happen, and then I saw Marv [Marvin Musquin] and Coop [Cooper Webb] in front of me and it was just like blood in the water, I just wanted it bad. I never knew anything about the overall, I was just going as far [froward] as I could in the amount of time I had.”
Those late-race passes turned out to be key in earning him third overall on the day. Adam Cianciarulo topped qualifying and found himself battling for a podium spot in moto one before dropping back to finish fifth. His arm issues appeared to hinder him a little again in the second moto as he put his fastest lap of the race on lap two, and then his lap times were slower and slower each lap, which cost him two positions to Barcia and Webb late.
Through five rounds, Ferrandis (224 points) still remains the man on top as he gained five points on Roczen (204 points). Ferrandis won the 250 Class overall at the 2020 Spring Creek National when he battled back and forth with hometown hero J-Mart. The Ferrandis train got rolling at round one and he has continued to pick up steam each weekend since. Tomac (167 points) sits in third, over a full two motos down from the #14. Yamaha is hoping he can keep if going, but if anyone else wants to win this title, they are going to need to derail the #14. Motivated to get that first overall win, Tomac said he wants to get his deficit to under 50 points as soon as possible.
“I’ll feel like I’m in it if I’m within a moto’s worth of points, or even if it was down to 30,” Tomac said on sitting third, 57 points down. “Fifty is a ways out. I mean, basically at that point you’re just going for it all, going for broke, right, going for everything. That’s not anywhere in the mindset, it’s like let’s figure out moto one and try to get an overall first, ya know.”
Unfortunately for Aaron Plessinger, who to a great third-place finish in moto one, his day ended early with a bike issue only four laps into the second race, giving him 40th officially for 12th overall. Another rider worthy of mentioning is FXR/Chaparral Honda’s Coty Schock. he qualified 11th overall, then was battling for a top-ten spot before he lost power and officially finished the race 38th. He did not start the second moto. And shout-out to local privateer Chris Canning, who put in a solid 14-14 day for 14th overall in front of his home crowd. Riders were cheering on the race leaders or their favorites riders all the way around the course, but just about everyone was screaming, cheering, and blasting air horns every lap for Canning.
|Avignon France||1 - 3||Yamaha YZ450F|
|2||Ken Roczen||Mattstedt Germany||4 - 2||Honda CRF450R|
|3||Justin Barcia||Monroe, NY United States||2 - 4||GasGas MC 450F|
|4||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO United States||8 - 1||Kawasaki KX450|
|5||Cooper Webb||Newport, NC United States||6 - 5||KTM 450 SX-F|
Main Image by Mitch Kendra