Sexton sweeps 450SMX motos in Charlotte for decisive overall
Shimoda follows late Pro Motocross form with overall win in 250SMX.
Keen to put a challenging 2023 Pro Motocross Championship campaign behind him, Chase Sexton offered a reminder of why he was in a position to capture the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross 450SX title in the form of a dominant 1-1 performance in the first of three SuperMotocross World Championship playoff rounds in Charlotte, North Carolina, while Jo Shimoda came out on top in 250SMX.
Justin Barcia executed the split start best at the unique zMAX Dragway track and controlled the early moments of the first 450SMX race aboard his TLD Red Bull GasGas-prepared machine.
Privateer rider Ty Masterpool held second before Sexton worked past both Masterpool and Barcia for the lead.
The reigning 450SX champion led 16 of the race’s 17 laps, beating Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) to the checkers by 8.871s for his first victory since the Supercross season-ending Salt Lake City round.
Ken Roczen (Progressive Insurance Ecstar Suzuki) claimed third, with Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki), Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM), and Barcia finishing fourth, fifth, and sixth to join the podium finishers in beating Lawrence, who closed out a perfect Pro Motocross Championship season two weeks ago.
Seventh in his first Supercross-style race on a Honda CRF450R marks Lawrence’s worst result since he finished ninth overall due to an engine failure in 250MX at last year’s RedBud National.
In his first race on the Star Racing-prepared Yamaha YZ450F, Cooper Webb came home eighth, leading Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) and Garrett Marchbanks (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha) in rounding out the top 10.
In the midst of a second strong start for privateer hero Masterpool and a crash while running near the front for Cianciarulo, Roczen moved into the early lead aboard his Suzuki as the concluding 450SMX moto began.
Once Sexton was able to work past Masterpool and begin to pursue Roczen from the second position, the overall as they ran fell into the hands of the Honda rider. With a few blisteringly fast 1:14s laps, Sexton ran down Roczen and turned a 1-1 result in the first SuperMotocross race into a reality.
Nearing the white flag, Lawrence also passed Roczen but could only come within 6s of his victorious teammate at the end. Lawrence’s 7-2 finishes in the day’s two races gave the undefeated Pro Motocross champion fourth overall, while Roczen and Ferrandis joined Sexton on the podium with 3-3 and 2-4 results, respectively.
With double points on offer, Sexton will head to Chicago for the second playoff round September 16 with a 12-point lead in the SMX standings over Lawrence and Plessinger, who are tied with 38. Ferrandis and Roczen are next with 37 and 36, respectively.
Backing up his dominant performance two weeks ago when the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship wrapped up in Indiana, Shimoda made himself the first overall winner in 250SMX competition.
Strong starts for Seth Hammaker (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) and Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) gave way to a dominant charge to the lead and the win by Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Rcing) in the first-ever SuperMotocross moto.
While Hunter Lawrence, of Team Honda HRC, crawled back toward the top 10 after an unideal start and a fall, Kitchen led comfortably with Deegan in pursuit. Deegan successfully passed his teammate for the lead on the 12th lap and went on to take the checkers on the 17th with Kitchen 3.547s in arrears.
Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM) occupied the final podium position at the end, a further 5.561s back, with the initially front-running Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki trio of Hammaker, Austin Forkner, and Ryder DiFrancesco taking the next three spots in fourth, fifth, and sixth.
The final top-10 positions were occupied by Jordon Smith (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing), Lawrence, and Maximus Vohland (Red Bull KTM), with Pierce Brown (TLD Red Bull GasGas) and Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) just missing out in 11th and 12th.
Backing up his first-moto success at the start of the final 250SMX race of the event, Vialle led early with the Kawasaki trio of Shimoda, DiFrancesco, and Hammaker chasing from close behind.
After an easy fall in the first turn, Lawrence was near the back of the pack and again tasked with working his way forward.
Ensuring the overall victory went his way after finishing fourth in moto one, Shimoda passed Vialle for the lead and beat the KTM rider to the checkers by 3s.
DiFrancesco held on for third, finishing just a second and a half behind Vialle’s rear wheel. Three Star Racing-prepared Yamaha machines were next across the line, with Smith, Deegan, and Cooper at the controls.
Lawrence’s charge culminated in a seventh-place result in this second moto, giving the newly crowned 250MX Pro Motocross champion eighth overall with 9-7 results. Hammaker, Jalek Swoll (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna), and Brown completed the top 10 in the second moto.
While Shimoda’s 4-1 plus 3-2 moto scores for Vialle gave those two riders the top two steps on the podium, Deegan went 1-5 for the third and final podium spot. DiFrancesco and Smith just missed the overall podium in fourth and fifth.
The second playoff round will arrive in a week’s time as the series resurfaces at Chicagoland Speedway for the September 16 event, where double points will be on offer. Shimoda and Deegan head to Chicago tied in the 250SMX points standings with 42 each. Lawrence is next with 39, followed by Vialle in fourth with 38 and Kitchen in fifth at 35.