Lawrence, Sexton and Nichols on Houston
Having waited impatiently for his first race of the 2023 AMA Supercross season, Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence rode masterfully when given the chance at the 250SX East Region opener in Houston, handily topping his heat race and the main event. Meanwhile, Chase Sexton posted a second-place finish in the 450SX main event, taking sole possession of second place in the title chase.
Lawrence took his CRF250R to the main-event holeshot but was quickly passed by Tom Vialle. Lawrence sat in second, and when he and Vialle nearly touched in the air, the Australian went off-track and lost a spot to his rookie teammate, Chance Hymas. Lawrence quickly regrouped and moved to the front by lap 3, then stayed there to the finish, winning by 7.4 seconds over Max Anstie, who put in an impressive ride for the Fire Power Honda team. Hymas had a respectable showing in his debut indoor race, running in the top five for three laps and eventually finishing eighth.
After dominating qualifying and his heat race, Sexton suffered a poor main-event start and ran in seventh before completing lap 1 in fourth. A red flag several minutes in, and a subsequent single-file restart didn’t significantly affect the top positions, but Sexton dispatched Aaron Plessinger on lap 4 and Jason Anderson on lap 6, putting him in second behind Eli Tomac. Sexton made a run at Tomac but ultimately settled for second. His teammate Colt Nichols had been hampered by a poor start and completed lap 1 in 11th, then began working his way forward until he went down in the sand section. The Oklahoma native was 13th at the finish.
Sexton: “I was confident in my riding all day. I felt comfortable on the bike during qualifying and the heat race. Eli just had me covered in the main, especially in the sand section; there were a couple spots he made adjustments at and he came away with the win. We’ll keep evolving and getting better. I definitely feel like I’m in a better spot than I was last year.”
Nichols: “Overall, it was a bit better for me today; I know the result in the main event was worse, but I felt good all day. Track position was key tonight, and I didn’t really have that. I was working my way up to the guys in front of me until I buried it in the sand. By the time I got up, it was pretty spread out. I’m a little bit frustrated with the end result, but I feel like my riding and the bike were in a better place. There are a lot of positives to take away from this weekend.”
Lawrence: Qualifying was a little rough; I just could never get all my best segments on one lap. I’m happy to execute with two great starts and check all the boxes so far. I’m confident on the bike and I really worked hard to get here; I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
Hymas: “That was quite the experience. Me and Hunter were 1-2 off the start, and for the first four laps, I was like, ‘I need to go!’ Then around the fifth or sixth lap, I ran out of breath. I got to about halfway and kind of regrouped, and then salvaged what I could. I qualified eighth, finished eighth, third in the heat race—I want to be better, but it could’ve been a lot worst. I’ll take it.”
Lindstrom: ““It was a pretty hectic day with four riders on the team, but it also made the truck full of good vibes. It was pretty exciting in the 250 races, with Chance getting really good starts and getting good experience up front. I’m sure he didn’t breathe those first couple of laps, so he’ll be a little stronger next weekend! Hunter was just in total control up front. Obviously, Chase was unbelievable with how fast he was today in qualifying and hunting down Eli during the heat race. It was frustrating watching Eli rise to the occasion and hold off Chase in the main, but at the same time, we still got a strong second place. Colt made some improvements with his intensity and definitely made strides all day.”
Words and image: Honda