Is Chase Sexton the guy to challenge the status quo in 2022?
Chase Sexton impressed everyone in his rookie year on the 450 last year. A new bike, new class and Sexton still had the speed to win, and looked set to do so, until a crash at Houston ended what looked like a certain victory at the beginning of the series.
The resulting injury and some other mistakes hurt him throughout the rest of the year, but when he was feeling good he was fast, and now, with the the experience of a season under his belt and his second year on the bike, Sexton is ticking more and more boxes to become the next big champion of the sport as the new generation begin queuing up behind the big three, impatiently pushing their way forward to become the next superstar of supercross.
Sexton has the knowledge from working with James Stewart, the single-minded desire, the dedication, style, technique and the speed – but is year two enough experience to win a title in 450 supercross against such stiff competition? He will hope so and he says he feels a lot more comfortable with the bike this year.
Speaking in the press conference, a confident and ambitious Sexton said: “I feel like I have the potential to do big things in the sport. That’s kind of been my dream since I was a little kid. For me this year I’ve had a really good off-season, like everybody has said. I just feel refreshed and a little bit more calm coming into this year.
“Last year I felt a little bit under-prepared coming into the first race,” he explained. “It kind of snowballed and I had a few crashes. I felt like I was always climbing back up and trying to get to a good spot. This year I feel like I gained fitness. Like I said, calm, more mature and hopefully a better version of what I was in 2021.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s just Cooper,” Chase responded when asked about if he was ready to step up battle the Webb, the defending champ, for the title . “I think like he said, there’s probably 15 guys that could go and be on the podium. So, I think it’s going to be a competitive season and it’s something that I look forward to. It’s not just three guys racing each other. I think all of us have potential to win races or be on the podium. That’s what I’m excited for. I think it’s going to be a good year for supercross.”
Speaking about his comfort with the bike this year, Chase said: “When I was younger I always looked forward to having a new platform. Two thousand eighteen was my rookie year in supercross and we had a new bike. With the 250F, I feel like it’s just a lot easier to set up than the 450 is, so I kind of got a fake sense of reality. Obviously, we had our struggles with that bike and then finally when I got off the 250 we were starting to really get to a spot where we felt like we were competitive. Now last year having a new bike and trying to learn the 450 on supercross, it’s difficult because I’m trying to learn a bigger bike on a tight track and I’m trying to figure out what the bike needs and what I can get away with. I think this year we’ve had all the notes we took last year and put it into a setting this year and it has been really good. Kenny and I are pretty close on settings. That’s kind of hard to believe, because we were on two opposite ends of the spectrum last year. We’re pretty close and now we can kind of share notes and lean on one another. We have the new 250 this year with Hunter and Jett, which is pretty similar to our bike. So, all four of us kind of putting our notes in. I feel like we came up with a really good setting. Overall just more comfortable than last year.”
Ken Roczen also gave his view on the second year on the new general Honda machine: “I feel like whether you’ve been on a motorcycle for a long time or not, we always want to try and get better. I’ve had my problems last year as well with the motorcycle that I wasn’t too stoked on,” he says. “You try and work on it again. It’s really never perfect, but it’s about making it work and getting it consistent on every part of the track. Same thing with this year. Overall, the testing side of things just takes up so much time. You can’t only just be testing and then before you know it the off-season is over and you haven’t done any laps. So, you’ve got to just try and find a happy medium. That doesn’t always mean that we are getting better and better and all of a sudden everything is great. We always every day try and better ourselves. You’ve got to explore other directions than what you usually go with and hope to find something that clears the issue from the year before.”
Article: Jonathan McCready