Jett Lawrence, Sexton and Hunter Lawrence on their outdoor opener
Team Honda HRC began the 2023 AMA Pro Motocross series the same way they finished the AMA Supercross series two weeks earlier—unbeatable. The Fox Raceway National in Pala, California, saw the team top both classes, with Jett Lawrence posting a flawless 1-1 moto tally in his AMA premier-class debut and brother Hunter Lawrence going 3-1 for the 250 overall win. It was the first time that two brothers have both scored overall wins on the same day. Meanwhile, newly crowned AMA Supercross Champion Chase Sexton was a solid second overall in the 450 division, and Chance Hymas overcame crashes to finish 12th overall in the 250 class during his fulltime pro debut.
The CRF450RWE of Jett Lawrence exited turn 1 ahead of the pack in moto 1, and the young Australian set sail. Having suffered a practice crash earlier in the day, Sexton was fourth off the start. He quickly got by Cooper Webb and then—a couple of minutes before the midway point—Dylan Ferrandis, but the 10-second gap to the front was too much to overcome. Lawrence nailed the holeshot again in the second outing, but Sexton was up to second place by the completion of lap 1. The Illinois native hounded his teammate for the entire moto but wasn’t ultimately able to attempt a safe pass on the slippery and choppy track. In the end, the difference was just one second.
Hunter Lawrence didn’t get a great start in the first moto of the year, completing lap 1 in 10th place, but he went to work advancing through the pack. It took him some time to get going, but despite riding in pain in his ribs due to a weekday training crash, he was in the top five by the midway point, then up to fourth a lap later. He continued to push, and he made a last-lap pass to take third. Hymas was 17th after one lap, quickly climbed a few spots, then fell and had to recover. With three laps left, he moved into 15th, and that’s where he would finish. Lawrence made life easier on himself in moto 2 by being first across the holeshot line on his CRF250R, and he was never really challenged on his way to an eight-second win. Hymas ran in the top five for the first half of the race, but a tip-over contributed to him finishing an eventual 12th.
Jett Lawrence: I definitely didn’t expect a day like this. I felt like I knew where I was coming in, but jumping up to this class, everyone is fast and fit. That second moto, I kept looking over my shoulder, thinking I gave myself a gap, just to see the 23 even closer than before! I find battles like these fun, though; they make me a better rider and they test how well I can handle the pressure. I knew Chase wasn’t going anywhere and it would be a long 35 minutes, but it was great having a clean battle. I expect this whole season to be a chess match, and it’s nice to take the first round.”
Chase Sexton: “We’re off to a solid start. I didn’t feel like I had the speed early in the day, and that crash in practice didn’t help my confidence. In the first moto I just rode sloppy, but I kept building and getting more comfortable throughout the day. In the second moto I felt like I was me from outdoors last year. We just have to keep building confidence and making the bike even better. I feel like I’m prepared to take this fight all the way to the end.”
Hunter Lawrence: “That first moto was me just taking what I could get; I was pushing as far as I could with what the track was giving me, but I didn’t want to throw away a good finish. In the second moto I put a lot of emphasis on the start; I knew I needed that to make my life easier. Coming through the pack on this track is so difficult, with the way it forms. Once you get into a rhythm, it’s very hard to drop the hammer and start picking guys off. I’m excited with the way we started the season, and I can’t wait to keep this going.”
Chance Hymas: “I’m not necessarily happy with the day, but I’m relieved to get round 1 down. It had been a while since I’d been on the gate with all of these guys, and I really didn’t know what to expect. Now, I know where I’m at and how I can get to where those other guys are. If I can stay in there towards the end of the races, when guys are dropping like flies, I can be successful. I’m proud of myself for what I did today, but I’m not satisfied.”
Lars Lindstrom: “These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of amazing things happening at the races. It seems like all of our hard work from the past years is being paid off this year, and we’ll try to appreciate every win and realize that these times don’t come around often and can end at some point. I was really happy to welcome Chance Hymas onto the team as a fulltime member, and he showed that he can run up front. Hunter was hurting after a big crash earlier in the week; I thought it would be a salvage race, but after getting a special rubdown from our physio friend Doc G [Dr. H. Rey Gubernick], he was able to grunt it out and ride amazing. The highly anticipated 450 race was like watching poetry in motion. Both Chase and Jett have the most incredible style, and it was honestly beautiful to see them floating around what everyone else made look like a brutal track. It’s going to be an interesting summer.”