Main image by Mitch Kendra
With each race we have seen this summer in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the racing continues to get better and better. Mechanicsville’s Budds Creek Motocross Park played host this weekend as the beautiful facility and historic circuit delivered yet another incredible day of racing in both classes—despite the humid Maryland weather.
Chase Sexton entered the day with a single point advantage over Eli Tomac. And somehow, after being on the ground twice and outside the top 30 early in the first moto—which Tomac won—Sexton leaves with only a single point deficit! The championship remains up for grabs between the two riders. Let’s get into it.
The first 450 Class moto was yet another dominating ride by Eli Tomac. He started well inside the top ten but made his way into P1 rather quickly. He bested Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen to take over the lead, then checked out, leading the final 14 laps before taking his 11th moto win of the summer. Behind him, championship leader Sexton ran into trouble. The Honda HRC rider was in the drop section that sends riders onto ground level even with the start straight when he said he ran into neutral and did a front flip over the bars and front of the bike. Remounting outside the top 20, Sexton ran into more trouble when Canadian Tanner Ward tipped over in a turn directly in front of him only a few sections later, taking down the #23 as well. Things went south for the Honda HRC rider in a hurry! From there, Sexton had to work to limit the damage as his championship rival was moving from about fifth into the eventual lead. Sexton did what he could, finishing seventh. But he lost 11 points in the moto, with Tomac unofficially taking the points lead ahead of the second moto of the day. Quickly, things looked to be going Tomac’s way. The #23 was in need of a big ride come the final gate drop. And when he needed it, Sexton rebounded…Twice.
Sexton made his way from another top-five start into third behind Ken Roczen and Jason Anderson. Anderson had just gotten into the lead, but Roczen was putting up a fight. Anderson missed the inside rut of an off-camber turn and without momentum exiting the turn he handed the race lead back to Roczen. The Kawasaki rider was caught in a three-way battle for the lead with the Honda HRC teammates! Sexton blasted past the #21 then quickly he coughed up the lead with a mistake, going down in the inside line of the turn before the massive Big Gulp triple. The #23 machine had to repass both Roczen and Anderson, which he eventually did, before leading the final seven laps and taking the race win. A few positions back was Tomac, who dominated moto one but struggled to get around Dungey to take over fourth. With Tomac finishing first and fifth, respectively, for 41 points he gained two points on Sexton’s 7-1 for 39 points. The championship remained a single point but the two riders swapped positions! It seemed Tomac was destined to take a firm grasp on the championship with his ride in moto one and Sexton’s mistakes. Tomac needed the rebound then he did. In moto two, Sexton needed to rebound himself, and he did so as well. This feels like a typical sports movie where things just go back and forth down to the wire, but you could not have scripted a better outcome here! These two just keep striking.
“Man, today was not my day,” Sexton said. “Even from practice, I never felt that good. Just too many mistakes. First moto I hit neutral went over the bars in that corner then ran into another rider and had my work cut out for me. So had a big effort in the first moto and knew I had to bounce back and get max points in that second moto and got it done. I fell over, still knew I could win, I just kept fighting. You don’t win championships on your good days, it’s your bad days you win ‘em. So if we can manage the points and come back next weekend strong and ride a lot better, we’ll be in a good spot.”
“First one it was like everything was going my way,” said Tomac of his day. “I was able to make a couple passes early on fairly quick there. Was able to get to the front right away. Then the motorcycle felt really good in moto one. Was kind of just in a nice pace there. Then moto two, got a little bit shuffled on the start farther back. I wasn’t able to get to the front as early as I wanted to. Then just got kind of stuck behind Dungey there. It was frustrating towards the end of the race. I just had a hard time getting past guys in moto two. I need to do a little bit of work and try to get it figured out. But, I can’t complain too much. Gaining points on the day.”
Although effectively out of the championship battle 80 points down, Anderson was the benefactor of the up and down days from the championship duo. The #21 took his 2-2 finishes to earn his second career Pro Motocross overall win just 108 days since the first of his career. Anderson continues to build on in arguably the best season of his professional career.
“That first moto was pretty awesome for me just to get up there,” said Anderson. “Chase fell down, so it kind of eliminated him from that front battle. To get second was really cool. It put me in a good spot to be able to fight for that overall in the second moto. In the second moto, I passed Dunge and I got past Kenny. I was out front and kind of fumbled a little bit and was not riding too good and got passed back my Ken and Chase. Just fought to be able to get second. So, 2-2, it was nice to get an overall but it would have been nice to get a moto win, but I’ll take it.”
“I think for me, I’m trying to look at as big a picture as possible,” Anderson said. “For the bike I’m on, we’re going to be on the same platform next year, so I think if I could just keep putting my head down and keep trying to improve, that could put our bike and stuff in a good situation for next year. Then for me, I have some goals that I want to accomplish. Obviously being on the podium is always a goal, but I really would like to get closer to that two and one spot. I think I’ve been able to get closer and closer, but I think with this battle between Chase and Eli, I think it’s going to get jumbled up a little bit and I could capitalize and try and get some good performances and get some good results for the team and have a couple more good races. That would be the cherry on top for my season, so far.”
Right off the bat, Ken Roczen looked great in qualifying, putting in the top time for the second consecutive week. Conditions were expected to get humid and therefore hot during the motos, and Roczen stayed strong and fought through the checkered flag in both motos. The #94 led a handful of laps on the day and his 3-3 finishes earned him third overall on the day—his third overall podium finish of the summer and his first since the third-round Thunder Valley National overall win.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been up here, but we’re stepping in the right direction," Roczen said. "I overall just made some changes. Podiums are hard to get nowadays, at least for me at this point, never mind winning. So, I was just excited. I had some good speed this morning. It seems like on a weekly basis I just struggle definitely with my bike a little bit, but at the same time that’s just something that’s always going to be there. I just try to fight through it. Today my starts were decent. This track was extremely technical. We had a lot of off-cambers. I don't know why all these tracks nowadays have such a hard base. It’s pretty crazy. So, all these downhill, off-cambers, they were tough to ride. In the end, I was able to at least put up a fight and I found myself on the podium, so I’m really excited to be back up here. Never take these podiums for granted. Overall, my day was really good. I’m hoping to finish out the last two races out good, too.”
I asked Roczen in the press conference if he was doing anything differently to help with his recovery that led to a solid day and he said he was working with a nutritionist and while things do not get fixed overnight he believed they are taking steps in the right direction.
“The biggest difference is just that I started working with this nutritionist,” he. “I just have some holes to fix, for sure. We just got on that, based off of some tests and stuff that we did. This is something that just doesn’t happen overnight, but it seems to be going in the right direction. So, we’ve just got to stay on it.”
Another talking point last night was a late note in the official results: Justin Barcia was disqualified in the second moto. We are still learning about the specifics of the incident, but it sounds like Barcia went full BamBam and had a run in with Dylan Ferrandis. Barcia finished eighth in moto one, Ferrandis finished sixth and then the two were battling one another while inside the top ten in the second moto. Suddenly, the TV broadcast picked up Ferrandis in the mechanics area after it appeared he had gone down and then the #1 rode back to the Yamaha pits. Barcia crossed the finish line in the moto in eighth place, but was officially disqualified shortly after the race. The #51’s 8-DQ means he received no points in the second moto, so his 13 points from moto one stand alone to earn him 14th overall on the day. Again, we are still learning more info on the situation, but the results are official about the disqualification.
Ferrandis’ wife Nastasia posted the following on her Instagram story.
|1||Jason Anderson||Edgewood, NM||2 - 2||Kawasaki KX450SR|
|Cortez, CO||1 - 5||Yamaha YZ450F|
|3||Ken Roczen||Mattstedt, Germany||3 - 3||Honda CRF450R|
|4||Chase Sexton||La Moille, IL||7 - 1||Honda CRF450R|
|5||Ryan Dungey||Belle Plaine, MN||4 - 4||KTM 450 SX-F|
In the 250 Class, we saw a good battle out front early in moto one between RJ Hampshire and Michael Mosiman. Hampshire has been banged up a little this season, but the Florida native grabbed the holeshot and was battling with the GasGas rider in his respective return to racing. Following a concussion at the Spring Creek National that sidelined him for the pervious two rounds, Mosiman picked up battling for the race lead. He quickly took the lead from Hampshire and the two went back and forth before Hampshire wrestled away the race lead and win—his first in over two years. Mosiman dropped to fourth by the finish, as Jett Lawrence and Jo Shimoda made their way into second and third, respectively. Behind Mosiman was Max Vohland, who rode solid, Guillem Farres, who finished sixth in his U.S. debut with Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing, and Nate Thrasher. Thrasher was in third early but dropped outside the top ten after a tip over and his bike not restarting momentarily cost him a lot of positions. He regrouped and came home seventh.
Justin Cooper and Jalek Swoll tangled together on the first lap, after starting inside the top ten. Cooper found himself battling Hunter Lawrence, who ran into his own issues going down and then getting stuck in trackside banners, as the two made their way into the top ten. At the checkered flag, Lawrence bested Cooper for eighth place as Cameron McAdoo rounded out the top ten. Maryland native Tyler Stepek put in a tremendous ride, sitting in eighth through the halfway mark of the moto. The #93 dropped back a few positions later in the race and lost two more spots at the very end before finishing 16th. I stopped by the Stepek camp momentarily after the moto and his entire crew was pumped on his ride!
Come moto two, it was Cooper striking early with the holeshot ahead of Swoll. Jett Lawrence had his work cut out for him as he was pinched off at the start between Hampshire and McAdoo. The #1 was about 20th after the first lap and narrowly avoided being taken out by a flipping machine from a Josh Varize crash.
Out front, Shimoda made a run at Cooper for the race lead, and even pulled off a pass before a miscue allowed Cooper to retake P1 with some space. Shimoda remounted another charge and successfully took over the race lead. With moto one winner Hampshire in fourth, Shimoda’s 3-1 would give him the overall on Hampshire’s 1-4 as they ran. But Hampshire got by his teammate Swoll for third, giving him the P1 overall nod with 1-3. A pass on Cooper near the end stamped the #24 Husqvarna would get first overall with 1-2 finishes. Except Jett Lawrence dropped the hammer and climbed all the way to third place. He was threatening Hampshire’s spot in the race and in the overall standings. Shimoda took the moto win but Hampshire hung on for second with about two seconds over the #1, giving Husqvarna their first overall win of 2022 and Hampshire’s first overall win since the 2021 RedBud National. The site of Hampshire’s fourth career overall win came at the exact venue of his maiden overall win in 2018.
“It was solid,” Hampshire said of his day. “I was pretty fast from the beginning. I honestly felt like it started last weekend on the break. Just things clicked. I like Budds a lot. I took a gamble there sticking with the paddle tire, and I got two good starts, which I hadn't gotten at all. So, that was huge. First moto was awesome. I felt like I got in a really good flow. Second moto was a bit hairy. I had some moments with that paddle, but that’s the reason why I won today, thanks to that and the team. We’ve been working hard and found something the last two weeks.”
“Yeah, that was huge,” Hampshire said on the win for Husqvarna. “I’m not quiet about things and I haven’t been happy, and the team whenever we start 15ht or 20th for the weekend, you can’t really expect much. We were struggling pretty bad. Just had no comfort with the front. We found that two weeks ago. It’s nice to have at least some step in the right direction. We’ve been trying pretty much everything and we haven’t really found something that was working. So, at least we have a direction now. They have big plans for next year and this bike. I’m just excited. It’s definitely draining when every weekend you just feel like you’ve made no progress. You’re riding your ass off and the results don’t show it. So, it’s definitely nice to come here and do what we did today. That first moto was special. These guys were starting to lose hope that it was even still possible. Just good to be back up here and be in the fight. That’s really all we were hoping for today was to have a shot at the podium. To come away with a 1-2 and the overall, I’ll definitely take it into next weekend.”
Shimoda’s strong ride claimed second overall on the day, but coupled with Hunter Lawrence’s struggles also allowed the Japanese native to jump to second overall in the championship standings.
“Second in the points, that’s exciting,” Shimoda said. “First moto, I got a terrible start. I went back to my old guy. Had to work hard for third. Second moto I had better starts. Had a little bit of a battle with Justin, and then just kind of kept going. Didn’t make crazy mistakes and just finished it off. Pretty happy with it.”
A week after a rough day of riding and landing off the overall podium, Jett Lawrence’s 2-3 finishes rounded out the overall podium.
“It [the day] could have been better, obviously, but it wasn’t a terrible day,” said the Honda HRC rider. “Obviously, it was a lot better than last weekend. Qualifying went well. Starts weren't the greatest today, I felt like, especially the second one. Just got closed out. Definitely going to work a little bit more on starts. They’ve been going downhill since after Washougal. But, riding was really good. The second moto, I felt really good. Had some good lines. Felt really strong for the first time in a while since I had to push all the way to the end. I got close to RJ, but just wasn’t close enough to make any moves on the last lap. But it was good to be back on the podium. Better than last weekend, so not too bad.”
Mosiman led seven laps in his first moto since the circuit visited Minnesota before finishing 4-7 for fourth overall.
Cooper was announced as the third member of Team USA’s Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations roster, joining 450 frontrunners Tomac and Sexton. He probably would have liked to back up the announcement with a strong showing, but we did hear Cooper had COVID-19 last week and might have been dealing with some sickness on top of the Maryland humidity.
Thrasher put down a sixth in moto two to claim sixth overall, as Vohland’s 5-8 finishes were a solid seventh overall. Hunter Lawrence’s struggles led to 8-9 finishes in a day where he only gained 25 points. Farres, who claimed sixth in moto one, finished 13th in moto two for ninth overall, and Carson Mumford finished 14-10 to round out the top ten overall.
|1||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL||1 - 2||Husqvarna FC 250|
|2||Jo Shimoda||Suzuka, Japan||3 - 1||Kawasaki KX250F|
|3||Jett Lawrence||Landsborough, Australia||2 - 3||Honda CRF250R|
|Sebastopol, CA||4 - 7||GasGas MC 250F|
|5||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||9 - 4||Yamaha YZ250F|