Features 26 Jul 2022

Debrief: 2022 Pro Motocross Rd8 Washougal

Overall winners Sexton and Lawrence recall eighth round.

It was Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton who returned to the top step in 450MX at Washougal as consistency prevailed for teammate Jett Lawrence during round eight of the 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship to extend his 250MX red plate advantage. Both riders were available to the media after the races for this Debrief feature. 


Image: Octopi Media.

Chase, once again, this weekend, blistering pace between you and Eli [Tomac]. You were second in moto one, and moto number two, just a blistering pace. You knew it was going to be but was it more than you expected. 

It was what I expected when we both get a good start. First moto, he attacked me and got me pretty early and I found a few of his lines and tried to match with mine. I was able to kind of stay with him and then obviously we both ended up going down in that left-hander, got back going and it was another battle. Second moto, I really tried to be better at the beginning and had a little bit better line choice, so it was good. I had the rollers down from the finish line, first moto I was not really good there, so got that line down and then it was lap over lap I tried to do my own thing and hit my lines. If I could get the corners good, I knew I would be in a good spot. That was my mindset, and it worked out.

Let’s talk about when you two came together [Sexton and Tomac moto one], no lead change and there was enough of a gap that you weren’t threatened by third place. What happened there?

I can’t really say what happened for him [Tomac], I think he went over the rut and I was already committed to the inside. I ran right in the back of him, actually pretty hard and there was nothing I could do, I was already committed to the inside and then I couldn’t get my bike started, he couldn’t get his bike started. We were sitting there for 15 seconds it felt like, just not getting it, no one getting the bike started. Once his got going, right after that mine started so it was like okay, let’s go again. It was weird, usually when someone goes down in the front the other guy gets around him, but that was not the case today. We kind of just funnelled in the same line and end up both of us sitting there for a while.

Three really tough weekends, obviously Southwick with the sand, Millville with the battle you had, that gap you had there, expending a lot of energy to keep that pace. Three weeks in a row, how are you recovering and is it any different than any other weekend on the outdoor series, or is keeping this pace wearing you out physically? 

I think actually this weekend, or this week, I recovered better than what I have been. Those two, Southwick and Millville, in between there I felt like I was a little bit flat, and then I had to kind of be patient this week and not overdo myself on the training. I kind of just focused on my riding and cut back a little bit off the bike, so I  came into this weekend… I had actually a good amount of energy yesterday and I knew I was going to be in a good spot because after a long flight you’d kind of assume you’d get a bit worn down, but for me, I was in a good spot yesterday and I knew that if I had good energy today it was going to be good. It is just all about recovery during the week, I mean Saturday can be as hard as you want as long as you are on top of it during the week, it’s manageable. Saturdays are always going to be hard, no matter if you are battling or what’s going on, so it’s just listening to your body and trying to pay attention to that.

Is it mentally taxing knowing that Eli has got the red plate, you are in a battle with him pretty much every weekend. Mentally knowing you have got to chase him, he was chasing you, where do you sit mentally as to preparing for the week and settling your own mind going, this is what it is? 

I’ve been pretty good actually, I had the red plate for a while then obviously he caught me and took it away. Now I am kind of in that chase mode a little bit, it is a little bit different. Mentally, I knew it was going to be a battle and if I can put my best self out there, even the first moto when I came in second I gave it my best, at the end of the day that is all that I can do. I just come into the weekend and tell myself, if I can ride to my ability then we’ll be in a good spot, and that’s all I’m trying to do right now, and we still have eight motos left and that’s a lot of racing. Just trying to go in and do my best, like I said it’s gnarly battling for that long but it’s what we get paid to do and it’s what we love to do. I think it’s been fun, and that what’s been kind of keeping me free-minded a little bit, just overall been loving riding dirt bikes lately, especially racing. Racing is… before, especially outdoors I was never the greatest, so I was kind of dreading those weekends coming in, because it was just an uphill battle I felt for me. Now that I am in this spot, I enjoy coming to the races and giving it my best, so that is all that I can do at this point.

Have you thought about how you are learning right now is going to help you next year and years in the future. You are having to duel with Eli Tomac who has so much experience, have you thought about, regardless of how this season goes, how much better this is going to help you in the future?

To be honest, I haven’t really. I’m so locked in on what’s in front of me right now, that I haven’t really thought about next year, because you don’t really know where are going to be at next year. This is… you have got to make it count when you have the chance, and that is what I am trying to do right now. These motos are only helping me, but as of right now I am focused on this and am in the moment. It’s been fun racing Eli, he’s won a lot of outdoor championships. I’ve been learning every moto and I think when he gets around me, like first moto, I do learn a lot from his learn choice and that’s what it really comes down to, especially when you are pretty evenly matched it comes down to lines and who’s got the best lines out the day.

It seems like at the end of these days you are having so much, you hang out, you’re signing autographs, just talk about the atmosphere. It seems like not only you’re not only riding better, but you are enjoying your time more than ever also.

This year I have been doing better than what I had been so I feel like I have more fans at this point. So, it’s cool for me because, especially when I was growing up I went to a lot of outdoor nationals, especially Redbud, and being a kid I was always nervous to like go up to people, so I have a hard time saying no when kids are coming up. Now that I am getting a little bit better, I feel like I have, I’m growing a little bit more of a fanbase, so I just want to make them happy and you have got to make it happen when you have got the chance. That’s kind of my mindset right now, and yeah I just want to enjoy it. That’s part of it, being around with the fans, it’s part of my job as well.


Image: Octopi Media.

You said earlier in conversation, you weren’t really happy with a 2-2 for the overall, but there are a lot of guys who wish they were in your position. Why do you feel that was so bad?

2-2 kind of sucks to go overall win the be honest, I mean you at least want to kind of earn it. I feel like it’s more of a luck thing, with going 2-2, the last few laps looking at Hunter [Lawrence], I’m like where’s he going to go because if he got Jo [Shimoda] then I would have got second. Got lucky, definitely would have liked to have one race win, makes you feel like you earn it a little bit more, but I mean, we will take it.

On the podium you said it was pretty much one line, was it a bit bonsai anywhere to try and get close to a pass and make something happen. Did you feel like you were riding the ragged edge? 

Because this track is such a high ground speed track, any slight mistake you lose so much more than on a regular track. If you took a different line, that was slower, it’s like you’re just trying to look for different lines and you always end up going back to that main line, so it was a very difficult track. You could never… it was so hard to take a different line and pass someone, it was either like before the whoops you are just kind of jamming on the inside in the first moto, but then everyone was going inside in the second one so it was difficult, it was just trying to work some of those outsides where you can and just trying to carry as much momentum as you can because it takes you a long way on this track, just because it is such a high-speed track.

You were catching Justin [Cooper] in closing stages of moto two, was it you were out of gas? Was it just the risk and reward isn’t worth it? 

I tried putting a sprint in but I just had a few close moments in the shadow spots where you couldn’t quite see, I’d rather go with a 2-2 than injuring myself, badly. Especially here, because you can’t see any of the bumps on the edges, and sure enough you get bucked because it’s hard pack and it’s fairly grippy so it’s just going to catch you off guard and bite you. It was more just bringing it home safe. I’d rather go 2-2 than leave here in an ambulance.

 You and Hunter battle each other on the racetrack. As younger kids, did it ever come down to blows between you two? 

No, not really. Like at this stage we are old enough where this is our job, so whatever is on the track is on the track. We don’t, we very rarely bring it off the track much. I mean we haven’t gotten that dirty with each other yet, yes we may have taken each other’s lines off each other, but we’ve never really meant to purposely go, okay I am going to take you out. Every now and then we get frustrated with losing, but we are mature enough that this is our job and it doesn’t affect our regular life. At the end of the day, we are still brothers and we are not going to let some sport wreck that.

With you and Hunter being in the same team, are there any questions that you specifically asked each other once you got off the track, about the track? 

We go back and just talk normally, like dude I had this sketchy moment or this section sucks so it’s never really hey, what were you doing here, what were you doing there, it’s never much that. We obviously got to see it in the first moto so we already knew what each other did, or I knew, so it’s just normal at the truck, nothing crazy.