Undefeated Pro Motocross champion within two points of Sexton heading to Los Angeles.
Winning the first moto and choosing while leading to finish second on purpose in moto two, Jett Lawrence maximized 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 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.