Roczen on his win plus Sexton and the Lawrence brothers
For the second time in the first three weeks of the AMA Pro Motocross season, Team Honda HRC swept the overall wins in both classes, this time at Lakewood, Colorado’s Thunder Valley National and at the hands of Ken Roczen and Jett Lawrence aboard their CRF450R and CRF250R race machines. Chase Sexton and Hunter Lawrence also notched podium overall finishes, and with the season now past its one-quarter mark, Red Riders continue to hold down the top two spots in the points standings of both classes.
The 450 class saw Roczen start well and quickly move to the front, where he ran comfortably until being passed by Eli Tomac near the end. Sexton ran the first half of the race in fifth before making a pass and finishing fourth. The second moto saw Roczen once again quickly move into first and run up front until he was tracked down and overtaken by his teammate. Sexton appeared to have a moto win wrapped up when he suffered a tip-over on the final lap, allowing the German back by for the moto and overall wins. Although Sexton quickly remounted in second, the change in positions was enough for his teammate to take the overall win, with Sexton third overall.
In the 250 ranks, both Lawrence brothers were still feeling the effects of illness, but Jett put strong starts to good use. The first moto saw him complete lap one in fourth and, a lap later, advance to second, where he remained for the rest of the moto, while Hunter had to work through the pack to fourth. Hunter enjoyed a long-overdue holeshot in moto 2, and he remained comfortably in front to the finish, while his younger brother rode the race in a mostly lonely second, with a couple of brief tussles with Justin Cooper. Jett’s steady 2-2 finishes netted him the overall win, with Hunter one spot behind.
Roczen: “Obviously I’m really happy with how today ended up. I’m getting better. I’m not the fastest out there, but I’m applying myself, I try really hard and I stay in it. I actually thought we got kind of lucky today with the weather. I feel physically pretty dang good compared to what I’ve been in the past. It seems like somewhere around halfway, when I start hitting lappers, I’m kind of searching a little bit and losing a lot of time. Once I make a mistake and get passed, I find myself and charge forward again. I’m going to try to work on that, to not get out of the flow. We always have little improvements to do, but I’m super-happy with what we’ve done this weekend. Obviously, Chase went down, so it was kind of given to me on that point, but I also had to battle really hard with Eli [Tomac] to stay in second place or else it wouldn’t have happened. I just got rewarded today, and I’m taking it. I’m just having fun with everything right now and trying to figure out these little pieces. Nothing’s ever perfect, and I’m good with where we’re at right now. I dedicate this win to everybody that’s behind me, especially my team. They keep believing in me.”
Sexton: “My starts were very subpar today; I was probably about 10th in both motos, which isn’t great. I had my work cut out for me. The first moto was pretty muddy, and I ran out of tear-offs before halfway; I was wiping my goggles and that was kind of a struggle. The second moto, minus that last mistake, was probably one of my best motos of the season. We’re in a good spot. It’s been fun racing these guys, and overall I feel like I’m in a different spot than I have been on the 450. The speed’s there, the bike’s pretty good, I’m in a good spot mentally and I’m having fun—that’s the key to it. We’ll take that and try to build off of it. I look forward to High Point.”
H Lawrence: “It was a good race. The first one, I was kind of frustrated with myself because my start didn’t give me the best opportunity to be where I wanted. The second one, I was pretty much like, ‘Screw it, I’m just going to hold it wide,’ and it worked out really well. Trying to get rid of this cold, we didn’t do any laps or such during the week—just worked on starts and different clutch delivery and stuff like that. The first moto I didn’t give it enough rpm, and the second moto, I said, ‘Screw it, I’m just going to send it.’ I held it wide, and it worked out pretty good. I got out of the gate, and I’m like, ‘I don’t see anyone—it’s like a dream!’ I was like, ‘Alright, I feel trash, but I can’t drop the anchor.’ I pushed as hard as I could, and it wasn’t too bad. I haven’t had a holeshot outdoors in a long time, so it was good; it made it easier. We’ll keep working on it—hopefully two more holeshots next week.”
J Lawrence: “I’m happy just to get through this day; I just went flat, and my speed wasn’t there, although I’m better than last weekend. It obviously helped getting really good starts today, but I didn’t think my sprinting was that great because Levi [Kitchen] and Hunter both were able to gap me. I hate to keep using the sickness, but last year I was fine here with the altitude. Hunter and I didn’t do much this week, just mainly starts. I think our bodies are working twice as hard during the moto because they’re fighting off the sickness and then riding. It’s annoying, but I’ve been lucky to put myself in pretty good spots with my starts. That first moto when Levi was out front, he was a bit of a new one because I haven’t got to race with him much. I had four or so laps where I tried to see if I could break him, but he pulled out even more. I ended up going, ‘Alrighty, I just need to keep second here and just try to get another good start in the second one.’ Then Hunter ended up pulling a holeshot, and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, this isn’t going to be fun trying to get around him.’ I’m hoping this week we can finally get rid of this cold, but I got the overall win, so I’m pumped.”
“It was another amazing day for the team, winning both classes and putting two riders on the podium for each class. It was a little bittersweet for Chase to lead the entire second 450 moto and have that tip-over that cost him three points, but it gave the team the overall. I’m really happy for Kenny to turn it around and get a win; he wasn’t super happy after last weekend, and we worked with him to try to get him the things he wanted. That paid off, as he got two perfect starts. It was our first hot race, and all of our riders did great. Jett and Hunter still didn’t feel 100%, so they’re only going to get better—although they’re already winning! All of our bikes showed that our R&D has been working really well, especially with our 250s going 1-2 on the start in the second moto. It’s really cool to keep both of the red plates and 1-2 in both championships. On to High Point, and we’ll see if we can continue.”
Words and images: Honda