Champ Sexton the biggest question mark coming into 2024?
Despite being the defending supercross champion, Chase Sexton is probably the biggest question mark coming into 2024.
Sexton has shown he has all the talent and speed in the world, he has the motivation too with Tomac saying he got “robbed” of the 2023 title with the Achilles injury and then Sexton not being able to beat his teammate Jett Lawrence in outdoors and Jett getting the better of him in SMX. Normally the question is motivation for a champion coming back to defend but the opposite is true of Sexton.
He wants to show he deserved the title last year and that he can beat Jett the Lawrence, the new leader in Sexton’s former team. But the question mark is the KTM and if Sexton can gel with it quick enough to run the speed he needs to have to beat Jett, Tomac and Roczen.
James Stewart revealed yesterday on the media press conference that he has heard Chase is apparently not 100% comfortable yet on the bike with Stewart saying Jett Lawrence is the guy, of all the title contenders, who’s position he would want to be in going into 2024.
Cooper Webb of course, was pretty vocal about not being comfortable on the bike a couple of years ago, things seemed to get better last year but Webb was intent on switching teams and is not on Yamaha and the bike that Tomac came so close to winning a title on last year.
Chase has moved from the bike that won the title to a bike that has known problem, especially in the whoops, even Christian Craig struggled in them last year! But to contrast that, Malcolm Stewart was very fast last year as was Justin Barcia with Stewart apparently flying at the test track this off-season, so is it a bike that suits some and not others?
Sexton will be hoping he can find the settings to bring him that comfort. He has recently tried using the new frame but that doesn’t give him long to find the sweet spot he will need to contend for the title this season. Sexton will need to be as fast as he was on the Honda and maybe even faster if Jett Lawrence’s outdoor season was anything to go by, the super confident Aussie could well lift the level this year and is apparently on fire in testing.
If Sexton is slower than he was in the Honda, especially in the whoops, it could be a frustrating season for the defending champ who, let’s be honest, probably didn’t get the credit and glory he deserved last year despite winning Honda’s first supercross title in 20 years. His season was overshadowed by Tomac’s injury and Jett’s dominance outdoors, his motivation for 2024 could turn into immense frustration because he needs this KTM to compliment his elite level riding ability.
From a mindset point of view Sexton is perfect for KTM, he fits the mindset of Pit Beirer, Roger DeCoster and Ian Harrison – work hard, no excuses and never give in until you find a way to win. But if they can’t get the comfort in the bike quickly, the title could be an uphill battle in 2024.
You have to feel those guys will find a way eventually, there is too much money invested by KTM in the new facility, the bike and the rider, who is their long-term guy for success, for this to fail. It has to work.
Let’s hope Chase can find the settings to contend for the title, but the jury is still out until the racing gets underway and Sexton has admitted that he too won’t really know where he stands until he races his competition this Saturday night.
Article: Jonathan McCready