News 17 Sep 2023

Lawrence maximises Chicago SMX with unique second-moto move

Hunter sweeps 250SMX motos ahead of surging Shimoda.

Jett Lawrence wins 2023 Chicago SuperMotocross overall in 450SMX class

Image: Octopi Media.

Winning the first moto and choosing while leading to finish second on purpose in moto two, Jett Lawrence maximised the situation as he saw it in the closing moments of the second 2023 SuperMotocross World Championship playoff round at Chicagoland Speedway to accomplish more than simply winning the 450SMX overall in the minutes after his older brother Hunter completed a clean sweep of both 250SMX motos.

In the opening moto for the premier class, Lawrence sped into the early lead with Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas) and Chase Sexton (Team Honda HRC) in tow.

Sexton soon fended off Barcia and fully set his sights on catching his teammate. Ken Roczen (Progressive Insurance Ecstar Suzuki), the day’s fastest qualifier, ran fourth, followed by Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing), who benefited from a fourth-place start, with Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha representative Phil Nicoletti running a solid sixth.

After sweeping both motos at the SuperMotocross-opening Charlotte event a week ago, Sexton was unable to keep Lawrence close and settled for second, 8.459s in arrears of the undefeated 450MX Pro Motocross Championship winner at the checkers.

Roczen worked past Barcia for the race’s final podium spot, followed by Barcia and Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM), who charged from eighth to complete the top five.

Ferrandis, Nicoletti, Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing), Ty Masterpool (HBI Racing Kawasaki), and Garrett Marchbanks (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha) filled out the rest of the top 10, with Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) just 1.228s behind Marchbanks at the end.

Cianciarulo’s Monster Energy Kawasaki stablemate Anderson had a similarly unideal moto, culminating in a 13th-place finish.

Following a delay to resolve a gate malfunction that kept the gate from falling at all in the first attempt to get going, the holeshot and early lead in the night’s final race, 450SMX moto two, was earned by Nicoletti.

Nicoletti rocketed past his factory-backed competition on his ClubMX-prepared Yamaha YZ450F, but the tall order of keeping Lawrence, Sexton, and others behind proved too difficult halfway through the first lap of the long Chicagoland Speedway track.

Lawrence sped past Nicoletti as the field worked to the furthest end of the track for the first time and led laps one through nine. Before the completion of the 10th lap, Lawrence mysteriously waved a charging Roczen by into the lead, prompting questions about the status of his bike.

With Sexton roughly 16s further back in third, Lawrence cruised to the checkers behind Roczen with no apparent motorcycle problems, finishing 5.314s behind the now-father of two as of this week. On the podium, Lawrence explained how he realized mid-race that letting Roczen by would cost Sexton in the calculation for the overall. Sexton finished third, with his 2-3 results on the night earning him third overall behind Roczen’s 3-1.

With first in the opening moto and second in moto two, Lawrence claimed the overall victory and added 50 new points to his SMX series total.

After Lawrence and Sexton in second and third in moto two, Plessinger ended his strong day in the fourth spot, earning fourth overall with 5-4 finishes. Ferrandis was fifth in this second moto and the overall results, going 6-5 on the night. Anderson, Webb, Colt Nichols (Rick Ware Racing Madd Parts Kawasaki), Nicoletti, and Barcia rounded out the top 10 in 450SMX moto two.

With just two motos left in the 2023 SuperMotocross season and triple the regular sum of points up for grabs in each position at the Los Angeles Coliseum in a week’s time on September 23, just two points separate Sexton and Lawrence atop the 450SMX standings. Roczen is third, a further eight markers back from Lawrence.

Hunter Lawrence wins 250SMX races in first ever Chicago SuperMotocross playoff event

Image: Octopi Media.

Continuing his 2023 season that has included the 250SX East championship in Monster Energy Supercross and the 250MX Pro Motocross Championship crown, Hunter Lawrence stayed in front of a surging Jo Shimoda to win both 250SMX motos at the double points-offering Chicago round of the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship.

Well-executed starts in the opening moto for primary contenders Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) and Hunter Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) soon led to the two co-points leaders in 250SMX initially breaking away from the field.

Deegan opened up a somewhat comfortable lead of 2.2s, but Lawrence, noting after the race that he spent some time getting used to the dirt’s unideal lighting and dark nature, soon reeled Deegan in.

A mistake for Deegan in the turn before the finish line forced the rookie to roll the larger-than-average finish line double and allowed Lawrence to slip by and take control of the night’s first race.

Jo Shimoda (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) and Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM) suddenly entered the picture as they pulled closer to the leaders — especially Shimoda, as he put on an impressive charge during the closing laps to pick off Deegan and come dangerously close to challenging Lawrence for the moto win.

Just when he closed the gap most to Lawrence’s rear wheel, Shimoda tried a new outside line and had his upper body violently whipped into the handlebars due to the unexpected angle of the rut. Shimoda’s charge culminated in a second-place finish while Lawrence captured the win by a margin of 2.409s.

Deegan held third ahead of Vialle, while newly named Motocross of Nations Team USA member RJ Hampshire completed the top five as the last rider within 10s of Lawrence at the checkered flag. Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing), Jalek Swoll (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna), Maximus Vohland (Red Bull KTM), Seth Hammaker (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki), and Jordon Smith (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) filled out the rest of the top 10.

After a first-turn crash, Ryder DiFrancesco (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki), Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing), and Joshua Varize (AEO Powersports KTM Racing) ended up 12th, 17th, and 20th.

Keen to reach his potential in a race after finding himself on the ground in the early moments of moto one, Cooper swiped the holeshot and assumed early control of the concluding 250SMX action of the night.

Setting up a duel for the overall, Shimoda and Lawrence ran second and third in the early going. Shimoda made a successful move for the lead on the second lap but, while being closely pursued by Lawrence, backed off briefly after a few corners of looking down at his motorcycle, sensing an engine problem.

Lawrence took over the race lead and never gave it up, leading the final four laps and opening up a 5.41s lead before the checkered flag appeared. Sweeping both motos, Lawrence heads to the final race of the year as the overall winner of the double-points offering Chicago SuperMotocross round.

Shimoda settled for second, finalizing his 2-2 moto scores for the night, with both moto wins being within reach at various points.

Deegan took third in this second 250SMX moto, matching his first-moto result to secure third overall. The stand-out rookie was chased to the checkered flag by Hampshire and Vohland in the top five.

Cooper’s strong start led to a sixth-place finish, with DiFrancesco, Smith, Hammaker, and Dilan Schwartz (Toyota of Redlands BarX Suzuki) rounding out the top 10.

Triple points are on offer at the season-ending Los Angeles SuperMotocross round on September 23. Lawrence holds a narrow three-point lead over Shimoda in the 250SMX standings, with Deegan a further four points back in third.

Detailed results