450SX main event thriller belongs to Tomac as 2023 season opens.
Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence struck first in the opening 250SX West round of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season at Anaheim 1, as Eli Tomac delivered his first A1 win in the 450SX main event.
There was no touching Lawrence as he managed to overcome a troubled afternoon to deliver what everybody expected in the pre-season – victory.
The race started with top-qualifier Austin Forkner (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) being catapulted down the start straight after connecting handlebars with RJ Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) and teammate Cameron McAdoo, ruling him out before things even really got started.
In the end, Lawrence’s winning buffer over a hard-charging Hampshire was 5.259s, with McAdoo bringing home a podium to open his year. A late move from Mitchell Oldenburg (Smartop MCR Honda) saw him claim fourth position over Vohland in completing the top-five, while sixth marked a solid haul of points for Enzo Lopes (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha).
Top of the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing riders was Levi Kitchen in seventh position, with the fast-starting Phil Nicoletti (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha) eighth, Stilez Robertson (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) ninth and Derek Kelley (AEO Powersports KTM) 10th at race’s end.
Unfortunately for Australian ProMX champion Wilson Todd on debut with Fire Power Honda, he went down in his heat race and was ruled out of the night, while countryman Geran Stapleton (GasGas) was 15th in the last-chance qualifier.
Number one plate-holder Eli Tomac has won a first-career Anaheim 1 in the opening round of the 2023 championship, delivering on debut with the new generation YZ450F.
The premier class main event began with Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas) at the head of the pack before defending champion Tomac took charge and the former crashed soon afterwards.
From there, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Tomac led until lap eight when he made an error, handing the lead to Malcolm Stewart (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) as he controlled things until lap 13. That was when Chase Sexton (Team Honda HRC) hit the front for his share, only for a spectacular Tomac to rebound from as far back as P5 to reclaim the lead on lap 17.
And that’s where he would stay, taking the checkered flag 2.778s ahead of fellow two-time title-winner Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM), who had charged forward from 10th on the opening lap. Webb made a move on Sexton in the closing laps, which ultimately completed the podium as Tomac won ahead of Webb and Sexton.
Second of the Star Yamahas, Dylan Ferrandis kept pushing to salvage fourth position, while a fast-starting Roczen faded to fifth by race’s end, ahead of rookie standout Colt Nichols (Team Honda HRC).
Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jason Anderson was another faller on his way to seventh, the top 10 also featuring Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM), Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) on return and Joey Savatgy (RWR Kawasaki), while Barcia finally took an 11th-place result.
Disaster struck Stewart while running in a podium position with just two to go, credited 22nd in the end after what was an exceptional performance. Next stop, Oakland’s second round of the season next Saturday, 14 January.