Perfect season complete for Lawrence with Ironman dominance
Shimoda sweeps 250MX as Hunter Lawrence takes first Pro Motocross title.
Having spent the summer answering the question of where he would stack up in the premier 450MX class during the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship season, Jett Lawrence won his 21st and 22nd motos in succession at the Ironman National to complete a historic perfect rookie campaign at the highest level of competition in America on the same day his older brother Hunter Lawrence secured his first 250MX title.
The penultimate 450MX moto of the 2023 season kicked off with a stellar launch from Lawrence, with the rookie and recently crowned champion assuming control of the race with Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM), Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki), Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki), and Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) in tow.
Sexton started directly beside Lawrence but didn’t time the gate nearly as well, but almost immediately moved into second position in pursuit of his undefeated teammate.
Sexton limited Lawrence’s lead to about a single second but eventually lost touch with the leader, who went on to lead all 19 laps without trouble and closed out a 5.883s victory over Sexton for his 21st consecutive moto win.
Ferrandis took the checkers third, about 40s in arrears of the Honda duo out front. Anderson finished fourth with Plessinger, who challenged Lawrence for the lead early on, ending up fifth.
Cianciarulo, Garrett Marchbanks (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha), Dylan Wright, Harri Kullas (BBL Racing Yamaha), and Jess Pettis rounded out the top 10. Seeking SuperMotocross World Championship points, Shane McElrath (Rick Ware Racing Mobil 1 Yamaha), Josh Hill (Monster Energy Mountain Motorsports), and Colt Nichols (Madd Parts Kawasaki) finished 25th, 31st, and 37th.
With 21 motos won and just one to go for Lawrence to close out a perfect season in his rookie 450MX campaign, the feat was almost in jeopardy right from the start as a few riders near Lawrence on the starting line flinched before the gate drop.
Lawrence stopped his Honda CRF450R before it was too late and still timed the gate well enough to exit the first turn near the front. With Sexton and Ferrandis joining Lawrence at the head of the field, Ferrandis crashed heavily just a few corners in, ending his race early.
The chase was on for Sexton in his final chance to best Lawrence in a moto in 2023. Lawrence never broke away to an insurmountable lead, but Sexton never seriously challenged Lawrence. By a margin of 1.736s over Sexton, Lawrence secured the perfect 22-0 season with a commanding victory in the last Pro Motocross race of the year.
Plessinger joined Lawrence and Sexton on both the moto two and overall podium with 5-3 moto scores on the day. Anderson secured fourth overall with 4-4 results, while Cianciarulo turned 6-6 finishes into fifth overall. Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas) was fifth in moto two but ends up mired in the seventh overall position due to his 11th-place finish in the first moto.
After Cianciarulo in sixth, Phil Nicoletti (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha), Marchbanks, Wright, and Fredrik Noren (Twisted Tea HEP Suzuki) completed the top 10.
The reigning 250SX East champion in Monster Energy Supercross added to his success in 2023 as Hunter Lawrence captured the first Pro Motocross Championship 250MX title of his career at the season-ending Ironman National.
The day’s first moto had an immediate championship impact as a second-turn pile-up affected both Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) and Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) — the top two in the points standings.
Cooper fell in one of a few small crashes in the corner that led to a large stack-up that held up Lawrence.
Both riders recovered and began charging through the field while Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM) ran in the top three early surrounded by the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki trio of Ryder DiFrancesco, Seth Hammaker, and Jo Shimoda.
DiFrancesco broke away to an early lead, but Vialle soon cut into it and made the pass for the lead with just over 21 minutes plus two laps still to go. Shimoda began to pounce on his teammate DiFrancesco as well and swiped second on the same lap while Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) caught this trio from fourth.
Shimoda was soon on the rear wheel of Vialle and challenging for the lead, which he successfully passed into with 15 minutes to go. Deegan soon made a pass of his own, relegating Vialle to third and finalising this moto’s podium positions.
Shimoda beat Deegan to the checkered flag by 7.696s, with Vialle ending up a further 10.322s back. A mistake for Hammaker just a few turns from the checkers dropped the Pro Circuit rider from fourth to sixth behind Austin Forkner (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) and Lawrence, whose run from the back of the pack culminated in a fifth-place result — more than enough to clinch his first 250MX title one moto early.
Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing), Vohland, DiFrancesco, and Talon Hawkins (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) rounded out the top 10, with Cooper climbing to 13th but falling short of delaying Lawrence’s finalisation of the title to the second moto.
The one-two Pro Circuit punch of DiFrancesco and Shimoda ran up front from the get-go in the second moto for the 250MX division, with Kitchen, Julien Beaumer (Red Bull KTM), and Jalek Swoll (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) pursuing from just behind.
Shimoda applied heavy pressure to DiFrancesco and passed for the lead 10 minutes into the moto.
The Star Yamaha duo of Kitchen and Cooper soon worked passed DiFrancesco to take over the two other podium positions, which may have set the top three spots in stone if not for a crash for Kitchen that marked the end of his day. Instead, Deegan moved into the third position, ultimately finishing the race about half a minute behind Cooper who took the final checkered flag of the Pro Motocross season 2.177s after Shimoda.
With his 1-1 result on the day, Shimoda took the overall victory in Indiana in commanding fashion.
A heavy crash for Forkner, like with Kitchen, didn’t seem to injure the rider who was battling near the front but left him in serious pain and receiving attention from the Alpinestars medical team, and also had the effect of altering the running order near the front of the field. Vialle finished fourth, ahead of DiFrancesco, Daxton Bennick (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing), Vohland, newly crowned champion Lawrence, and Pierce Brown (TLD Red Bull GasGas).
Deegan’s 2-3 moto scores were strong enough for second overall, with Vialle joining Shimoda and Deegan on the overall on the strength of his 3-4 results. Title rivals entering the day Cooper and Lawrence ended up fourth and fifth overall.
With the Monster Energy Supercross and Pro Motocross Championship schedules complete for 2023, next on the calendar for the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship season is the first playoff round, scheduled for September 9 in Concord, North Carolina.