Features 23 Sep 2021

Top 10: Races of the Pro Motocross season

A look back at some of the memorable moments of season 2021.

After the covid-19 pandemic put a damper on last season, the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season was one for the books as the series got back underway with a full schedule. With two new champions crowned in both classes, we take a look back at 10 of our favorite races from the season in this edition of Top 10.

Image: Octopi Media.

1. Ferrandis wins first 450MX moto:
In the opening moto of the 450 championship, we got a glimpse of what we were in for all season long, the arrival of Dylan Ferrandis at the front of the premier class. The race was headed by Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) early, who charged to eight-second lead over Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM), with Ferrandis behind. Cianciarulo hit the ground and was passed the duo behind, with Ferrandis making a move around Webb to take over the lead. The excitement continued through the end of the race as Chase Sexton set a furious pace in the closing moments of the moto, eventually charging to catch Ferrandis in the final section. They finished side-by-side with Sexton losing out by just a tenth of a second.

2. Barcia holds off Ferrandis at Spring Creek:
The first moto at Spring Creek saw Justin Barcia put his TLD Red Bull GasGas atop the box for their first win in the premier class of Pro Motocross. While it was no surprise to see the number 51 atop the box, the shock value of the occasion came as he managed something few were able to pull off throughout the 2021 season, keeping a charging Dylan Ferrandis behind him. It wasn’t just Ferrandis he kept at bay, off the start, he was pressured hard by Cianciarulo, who would eventually crash, leaving the battle for the win to Ferrandis and Barcia. The latter never wavered as Ferrandis attempting to make a pass multiple times eventually cruising home to the win.

3. Ferrandis battles Roczen through frustration at Budds Creek:
Budds Creek was a pivotal point in the 450 championship, and a wildly entertaining race to say the least. Webb grabbed the lead early, but was quickly overtaken by Roczen who was aiming to reel back points on Ferrandis who was slowly inching away with the points lead. Roczen set a solid pace at the front, but Ferrandis charged late, passing Sexton and setting out after Roczen in the lead. Roczen withstood the last lap barrage of attacks to defeat the Yamaha rider, who was visibly frustrated after the race. Ferrandis however, bounced back to beat Roczen, leaving it all on the track and proving again that he was the man to beat in the championship.

4. Three-way battle for the opening moto win at Thunder Valley:
A battle for the win in the first moto at Thunder Valley saw Cianciarulo launch out of the gate to grab the holeshot ahead of Roczen and Ferrandis. Roczen eventually grabbed the lead in the opening lap, but Cianciarulo battled back, making an aggressive move on Roczen to reclaim the lead. Ferrandis lurked in the background as Roczen kept the pressure on Cianciarulo at the front, with the trio eventually tightening up for a three-way battle in the middle stages of the race. Ferrandis reeled the duo in and made quick work of them to take the lead, with Roczen eventually getting around Cianaciarulo and surging forward and catching Ferrandis as the laps wound down. Roczen caught the points leader and pressured him into what looked to be a mistake to take the lead and the eventual win, with Ferrandis later explaining he lost his rear brake which caused a slight drop in pace. Nonetheless, the moto was packed with action from start to finish.

5. Crash-filled 450 moto one at High Point:
This moto had crashes galore, with the championship contenders struggling and drama in the last corner for the leader. Premier class sophomores Cianciarulo and Sexton grabbed the top spots early with Roczen in tow, as Ferrandis was mired in seventh off the start. While he worked his way through the pack, Roczen was the first to hit the deck dropping him to fourth. Cianciarulo made a mistake that nearly cost him the lead but was able to inch back a gap over Sexton. The latter hit the ground in the closing stages of the race and the drama seemed to be concluded as Cianciarulo cruised through the final lap. But in the final corner just bike lengths from the finish line, a lapped rider crashed in a rut ahead of him, causing Cianciarulo to go over the bars as he attempted to avoid it. While he was able to pick the bike up and get it across the line, it was a memorable end to a moto that saw its share of incidents.

Image: Octopi Media.

6. The top three 450 riders go head to head at Ironman:
With three rounds remaining, we got one of the battles we’d all hoped to see in 2021, the rookie Ferrandis versus Tomac and Roczen. As Ferrandis grabbed the holeshot, Roczen surged in the opening lap, eventually going from seventh to first. As they stretched out a gap over the rest of the field, Ferrandis poured the pressure on Roczen at the front, with Tomac lurking in their shadows. Ferrandis launched an attack through a set of braking bumps, making an aggressive move for the lead, with Roczen firing back as he continued to battle. The Frenchman made the move stick, with Tomac eventually using an outside to inside move on Roczen to take second shortly after. From there, Ferrandis and Tomac pushed forward creating space between them and Roczen with around five minutes to go. Withstanding the pressure from the multi-time champion, Ferrandis would eventually create a gap at the front, beating Tomac in one of the more intense motos of the season.

7. Hampshire charges through mistakes at RedBud:
What we saw at Red Bud was a scene we were all too familiar with throughout the 2021 championship, RJ Hampshire hindered by the slightest mistakes while having the speed to dominate the 250MX class. By far the grittiest performer of the 2021 season, Hampshire was on absolute rails at RedBud. Second off the start, he was gifted the lead after Justin Cooper had a wild crash at the start of the race, left to be pressured by Jett Lawrence for the lead. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider tipped over a few laps later, picking the bike up and charging back after Lawrence with plenty of pace. As he caught the young Australian, he again lost the front and tipped over, this time dropping behind both Jett and Hunter Lawrence. Not to be denied, Hampshire sent it in the next laps passing Hunter and making the final few laps of the race interesting as he reeled in Jett at the front. While it wasn’t enough to get the win, he made things fun to watch and showed he’s got the speed to contend for wins in the class.

8. Pivotal moment for Cooper in Washougal crash:
The final moto at Washougal would turn out to be a pivotal moment for the championship in 250MX. As Cooper maintained a points lead over Lawrence, he looked to have things under control as he made a bid for his first championship. This moto however, would turn out to be costly. With a great start, Cooper led and began to battle with teammate Jeremy Martin. With Jett Lawrence buried deep in the field early, Cooper settled into second and it looked as though he’d finish the day with valuable championship points. Instead, with just over a lap to go, Cooper hit the ground in a high speed crash and eventually finish eighth. It wasn’t the loss of points that made the situation critical though, it was a thumb injury that was sustained in this crash that would hinder him through the rest of the season.

9. Martin vs. Lawrence sees Martin’s season end early:
With just six motos to go, Jett Lawrence knew he had to go for it as he trailed Cooper in the points with the title on the line. Cooper grabbed the holeshot, with Lawrence in tow and the latter made quick work of the points leader to take the lead. With clear track in front of him, Lawrence settled into a solid lead over Cooper but it was Martin who had the pace to win that made things interesting. Martin surged into second and set out after Lawrence and it looked like he was going to make the pass and take home with win with ease, but Lawrence stood strong through multiple attempts from the former champion. Lawrence was able to create a bit of a gap between them, and Martin eventually hit the ground hard in a crash that would eventually end his season.

10. Jett makes it interesting at Hangtown:
With the championship on the line at the final round, Jett Lawrence managed to make things interesting in the season’s final day of racing. As the gate dropped on the opening moto, Lawrence found the ground multiple times in the opening minutes as Cooper grabbed the lead and managed the race at the front. Eventually finishing eighth in the moto, Lawrence needed to finish eighth or better if Cooper managed another moto win in moto two. He again found the ground in the second moto and subsequently put everyone on the edge of their seat as Cooper grabbed the lead. While he managed to find his way to the front, taking third in the moto, Lawrence’s didn’t fail to make things entertaining as he grabbed his first title.