News 18 Jun 2024

What changed between High Point motos for Sexton?

From half a minute behind in one moto to battling for the win in another.

After a distant third place in the opening 450 class moto at High Point, Red Bull KTM’s Chase Sexton rebounded to have a strong second moto that saw him fighting for the win the whole way through. It was a noticeable turnaround between the two motos as Sexton finished 37 seconds down in the first moto before nearly winning the second just losing out to eventual winner Jett Lawrence.

Having started in sixth in the first moto and working into third rather early, Sexton watched the Team Honda HRC teammates of Jett and Hunter Lawrence disappear ahead of him. Between the motos, Sexton and the team made suspension changes and then tweaked them further after the sight lap.

Image: Octopi Media.

“We did a big change after the first moto with the bike and the shock,” said Sexton. “I did the sight lap and to be honest, I was like racing the sight lap to get back to the start gate because I’m like, ‘We got to make changes. This ain’t going to work for 30 minutes.’ I knew kind of what it was going to do. It wasn’t something where we did anything internally, we just kind of adjusted the ride height of the bike and it was quite a bit better.

“I’m glad we did it. I put the fuel in the bike by myself. I was helping Kyle [Defoe, mechanic] because he was doing the forks and stuff like that, so I was fueling up the bikes, spilled gas everywhere on my hands and on the seat. I probably shouldn’t touch bikes, to be honest. I kind of knew what I was getting, I just didn’t know how big of a change it was going to be.”

With new settings on the machine, Sexton again found himself right around the top five on the opening lap. But this time, he sliced into second quickly and was hot on the heels of Jett Lawrence. After hounding the reigning champion for the better part of five laps, Sexton found his opportunity to slip into the lead and he slowly started opening a small gap.

Image: Octopi Media.

Unfortunately, the crashing bug bit Sexton again as he laid his KTM down from the lead on the 12th lap of the race. By the time he remounted, Jett was into the lead again and had some time to work with. Though Sexton made a hard push until the end, Lawrence managed the gap to sweep the motos. Regardless, Sexton was much happier with his performance and feel on the motorcycle.

“From the first moto to the second moto, it was like a different person,” said Sexton. “So that was nice. But just being on the ground twice, they were just dumb crashes. They were in turns with no ruts, and it was a pretty rutted track, so not stoked on that. But obviously the riding was better. I felt I had a good flow, and I wasn’t really like pushing, which was weird. I had these weird crashes, but I wasn’t really pushing. I felt I was in my comfort zone and just having stupid mistakes. So, I’ll clean those up. That was the most frustrating part. I guess the speed’s good, which is good. But I’ve got to fix those dumb problems.”

It’s been a weird few weeks for Sexton who put in one of the greatest rides of all time just two weekends ago at Hangtown where he crashed on the opening lap of the second moto and rode from dead last to win. It seemed like the page had turned for Sexton both in his riding and with the machine, but the next round in Thunder Valley was nowhere near what many expect out of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross champion.

Image: Octopi Media.

Two crashes on the day in Colorado left him with 6-5 results as he immediately lost the championship lead that he had gained at Hangtown. With the frustrations of the first moto at High Point, the trend seemed like it may continue. But Sexton believes his attitude about it all is much different now than how he used to handle these situations and that could help him turn things around as the series reaches its’ middle stretch.

“I’ve always kind of looked at the negative and this year, especially in Supercross, there was a lot of negatives,” said Sexton. “So I was able to find the positives and I think for me the negative is what drives me, but it also can be a bad thing if you focus on it too much. Today was a lot better. I just need a little bit of a reset to be honest and I think this week off is good. I’m just going to go back to work.”