Lawrence remains perfect despite Budds Creek test
Hunter takes 250MX overall with 2-1 performance in Maryland.
Tasked with making several passes in moto one and fending off a hard-charging Chase Sexton in moto two, Jett Lawrence made a relatively trying day look easy on the way to winning his 19th and 20th consecutive Pro Motocross Championship races in 450MX at the 2023 Budds Creek National while his brother Hunter Lawrence took home top honors in the 250MX category.
Perhaps brought on by a switch away from the scoop tire in the moments between the sight lap and the gate drop, Lawrence and his Team Honda HRC-prepared machine exited the first turn barely within the top 10
Facing an uphill battle to extend his win streak to a 19th race, the young Australian was clearly motivated to reach the front as he rapidly picked off the riders in front of him, working closer and closer to Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) who grabbed the holeshot and led early and Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM) who chased from second.
Lawrence masterfully passed every rider necessary to take control of the race en route to closing out the victory by a margin of 4.377s over Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki).
Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) held third to claim the moto’s final podium position ahead of Plessinger who dropped back from second and Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas) who found the top five in the second weekend of his return to competition.
Garrett Marchbanks (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha), Cianciarulo, Ty Masterpool (HBI Racing Kawasaki), Sexton, and Phil Nicoletti (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha) completed the top 10.
A perfectly timed launch from the gate set up a much more ideal opening stanza of the second 450MX moto for Lawrence relative to the first.
Lining up to wrap up the day having won all 19 motos of the Pro Motocross season thus far, Lawrence went on to lead all 17 laps, though he faced pressure from Sexton at two distinct points.
On the fifth lap, Sexton was within 2s of the lead but tipped over and lost several seconds-worth of track position while adding to his fall total on the day after a few mistakes in morning practice and the first moto.
An 8.237s lead for Lawrence was reduced to 7.109s, 4.694s, and 2.296s as the final lap approached, during which Lawrence knew Sexton was fast approaching.
Sexton, the reigning 450SX champion in Monster Energy Supercross, turned his fastest lap of the race after passing the white flag and came just 0.771s short of breaking the now-20-race win streak for his rookie teammate.
Lawrence will take home a 10th overall victory trophy of the year while Plessinger and Anderson earned the other two overall podium positions with 4-3 and 2-5 moto scores, respectively.
Plessinger in third was chased to the checkered flag by Barcia in the second moto, with the GasGas rider placing fifth overall with 5-4 finishes in the motos.
Anderson completed the top five in moto two ahead of Cianciarulo, Masterpool, Marchbanks, Ferrandis, and Freddie Noren (Twisted Tea HEP Suzuki) in the top 10.
With the 450MX championship already wrapped up a week prior to the Budds Creek event, focus in the premier class will be on whether Lawrence can close out a perfect season.
A strong launch out of the gate and a victory in the second 250MX moto at the Pro Motocross Championship’s 2023 visit to Budds Creek put the overall win at the season’s penultimate round in the hands of Hunter Lawrence.
The day’s first moto initially saw the launch of a battle between Jo Shimoda (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) and Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) for the lead.
Deegan worked past Shimoda and steadily built a gap but his march toward the moto win was interrupted by a red flag due to a violent crash for Hardy Munoz (HBI Racing Kawasaki).
After an unprecedented delay during which the riders were able to cool down and refresh behind the starting gates, the gates were dropped again which just over half of the moto still remaining.
This time, Jalek Swoll (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) assumed the early lead after Deegan brought excessive speed to the first corner, causing heavy contact with Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM) and a dismount from his own motorcycle.
Deegan was at the very back of the pack once he finally got going, at which point championship rivals Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) and Lawrence were dueling at Swoll’s rear tire. With just over five minutes still to go in the abbreviated post-restart moto, Cooper and Lawrence both passed Swoll, finalizing the podium positions for 250MX moto one.
Lawrence chased Cooper to the checkered flag, finishing 2.12s in arrears of the Star Racing-prepared factory Yamaha.
Swoll fell back 14s but held off rookie Daxton Bennick (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) for third, while Vialle recovered from nearly falling with Deegan in the first turn to finish fifth.
Seth Hammaker (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki), Shimoda, Forkner (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki), Maximus Vohland (Red Bull KTM), and Stilez Robertson (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) filled the rest of the top 10, which was just missed by Red Bull KTM debutant Julien Beaumer who ran fifth for the great majority of the post-restart laps.
The start of the closing 250MX moto of the day went the way of Forkner as he drag-raced Lawrence across the Motosport.com-branded holeshot line.
Still early in his return to the racetrack following an ACL injury sustained at the season-opening Monster Energy Supercross round in January, Forkner led the early moments of the race before Lawrence stormed past and got to work growing a lead.
Pushing hard to beat Lawrence and keep his championship hopes alive, Cooper turned a 1:58.723s best lap — 0.548s quicker than that of Lawrence — on his way to being within 1.518s of the victory at the checkers. Lawrence successfully followed his second-place result in the first moto with a victory in the second and leaves the penultimate round of the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship season the overall winner on the strength of 2-1 moto scores.
Cooper’s 1-2 delivered second overall to the Yamaha rider while third place in moto two for Shimoda was enough for third overall on the day.
Forkner turned his strong start into fourth in moto two, which critically supported his run to fourth overall after finishing eighth in moto one.
Deegan rounded out the top five in the second race, followed by Vialle, Ryder DiFrancesco (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki), Carson Mumford (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki), Beaumer, and Kitchen in the top 10.
The standout performance following the moto-one restart for Swoll was followed by a 12th-place result in the second moto, setting up his ultimate finish of sixth overall.
A trip to Indiana for the season-ending Ironman National in Crawfordsville on August 26 is all that remains of this year’s Pro Motocross calendar. The 250MX title will be decided, with Lawrence holding a strong 22-point advantage over Cooper.