Selection of contenders outline thoughts on the season ahead.
The anticipated 2023 Pro Motocross Championship is set to drop the gates this Saturday at Fox Raceway, featuring a mix of returning champions and fresh challengers. During the pre-season press conference today, a wide-range of key contenders share their expectations for the opening round in this Input feature.
Chase Sexton (Team Honda HRC):
I flew home from Salt Lake on Sunday, and it was back to outdoors testing on Tuesday. I think it’s honestly made me more motivated to come out here and win. I don’t know, I don’t feel like I have that lack of motivation right now. The first week back I tested three days and I put over seven hours on my bike, so it was right back to work and looking forward to this championship.
Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC):
This is very exciting for me. It’s kind of like I’m starting from the bottom again. I get to see where I stack up in the first round. I was lucky that I was on the west coast, cause I got to do quite a lot of 450 testing. We’re feeling good, we’ve been pretty lucky here at this track, so I’m keen to see how it plays out in qualifying and where I stand. but, until the gate drops, I can’t really tell where I’m going to finish, but I’m just stoked to get out there and start the new chapter in my life on the 450. I’m going to be here for a while since I’m only 19. It’ll be fun to learn from the older guys, unfortunately, we lost [Eli] Tomac, but I’m still looking forward to it.
Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing):
I’m back to normal with my fitness and my health, so all’s good. I’ve won this championship before, so my goal is only to win. Now I know I’m back from injury, we also have this new Yamaha bike that is very different and, I think it’s going to take a little bit for us to learn the bike and get adjusted to it, because obviously, we have only practised supercross through winter on it and we didn’t do much testing on motocross on it, so we don’t really know what the bike is going to be in race condition. But, other than that, I feel good, my injuries have passed and I feel ready. Like I said, the first few rounds I will try to be smart and not take any unnecessary risks. But yeah, I did it in 2021 and when I ride I feel the same, so hopefully, I can do the same this season.
Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing):
The goal has been mainly just about getting back healthy. I got to a point where I was feeling good, then went and saw some neurologists and did some testing to make sure everything was good and I got cleared. So, it was all definitely last minute, I think it came around in the 24th hour for sure. But, I just wanted to be out here, with the lineup right now, and with the SMX coming up, I wanted to better my chances any way possible. The first few rounds, I’m not sure how they’re going to go, I definitely haven’t had much time on the bike, but it’s good to be back racing and I’m feeling healthy again. It was definitely a bummer the way supercross ended. So, I just want to be on the gate, and it was something I didn’t do last year, so I just wanted to get back into it.
Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing):
It was definitely important to get back out there and get some races [in supercross] before the season ended. But, I’ve been looking forward to motocross before supercross even started, so this is exciting for me, I always love outdoors and the long grind of it. But yeah, capping the supercross season off with a podium was really good and it gives me really good momentum coming into outdoors.
Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing):
I kind of got a little bit of the same last year, I came off my injury and there was no point for me to really come back to [supercross], it was still hard to even ride with what I had going on, so it was pretty much all outdoor prep for me last year too, but not as intense. I was more just getting the feel of the bike back. With that much time off the bike, it was really tough. so, this year we’ve been healthy coming in and had a lot of time to work on the bike and get set up for this series. So, it’s been quite a grind, but now we’re here. It comes fast, so we’re going to enjoy this.
Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing):
I’m super excited for outdoors, especially this year. Last year when I did those two rounds, it wasn’t the greatest. So, I think the supercross season, mixing it up with those faster dudes, helped me get comfortable racing with those guys, so I think it’s going to be good for outdoors.
Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing):
I think it’ll definitely be a little easier for me, coming off of supercross and just having that experience and being in race mode. With sup[ercross going fairly well for me, I look forward to hopefully kicking it off well this weekend. I want to be there until the end this year and I believe I can.
Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing):
There are a lot of new things for me, in Europe we ride only motocross all year. So, when you come to the first round you’ve already ridden a few months. It’s pretty weird to switch between supercross and motocross, and it’s only two weeks from when we finish supercross, so just getting used to it is a little bit special. Those guys are used to it for many years already, so I’m really looking forward. It’s new for me, every track is going to be new. I’m really looking forward to it.
RJ Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna):
It’s a fresh start for all of us, we had a successful supercross season. It’s going to be a lot of fun, I’ve been doing this for a while now. I enjoy the suffer and I enjoy these the gnarlier they get, so I’m super excited.
Jeremy Martin (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX):
Obviously, I won my championships on the Star bike and I know how good that thing is. The team that they have, they have an amazing crew and they’re always developing the bike. I have an idea of what I had and what I’m comfortable on and we’re worked hard on that for this outdoor season. We’re a privateer effort, I think it’s going to be exciting to see if we can mix it up with these factory boys. I think it’s something that the industry is looking to see, ‘Can he be the same guy he used to be?’ I’m excited to fight that challenge and see what we can do, that starts on Saturday when the gate drops.