Lawrence, Sexton and Nichols on Tampa
At his home race, Hunter Lawrence rode to his second 250SX East division victory in two rounds, but this one was completely different from last week’s. Whereas he had led all but two laps in Houston, the Tampa Supercross saw him ride through the pack on a wet, slippery track that rewarded deft bike-handling skills, making a last-second pass for a thrilling win. In the 450SX class, Chase Sexton posted his fourth podium finish in five rounds, finishing second and reducing his points gap on Eli Tomac to just two.
Lawrence suffered a poor start in the 250SX East main event and nearly went down in turn 1, putting him in sixth at the end of the first lap. The Australian took fifth from Jeremy Martin on the next lap, then moved by Haiden Deegan in the sand on lap 4. He dogged Michael Mosiman until making a hard pass on lap 9, and he passed Max Anstie for second in the same corner two laps later. At that point, Lawrence was six seconds down on Nate Thrasher, and with eight laps remaining, he began eating into the advantage, finally reaching the leader’s rear fender on the last lap. The two made contact twice, with Lawrence finally executing the pass in the final corner and crossing the finish line with a margin of just .134 seconds—the closest 250SX main-event finish in eight years. Anstie finished on the podium for the second week in a row, and his teammate Chance Hymas recovered from 11th on lap 1 to finish eighth.
Despite a poor jump out of the gate in the 450 main event, Sexton exited turn 1 with the lead on his CRF450RWE. Cooper Webb began hunting him from second, but Sexton rode strong through lapped traffic until making a mistake in the whoops and falling with four laps remaining. The Illinois native remounted in time to take second, which was good enough to close the gap on points-leader Eli Tomac to just two points. Sexton’s teammate Colt Nichols finished lap 1 in 11th, and after some back-and-forth battling, he ended the race in the same position.
Lawrence: “My starts weren’t the best, but in the main event I went into a zone where I didn’t even notice it was raining—I just put my head down. Honestly, I don’t really remember coming through the pack; there wasn’t a lot of thinking involved. I’m super-stoked on how the night ended—probably the most hyped I’ve ever been after a win. This one was special, and I’m excited about where we’re at.”
Sexton: ““I feel like my racing keeps getting better, and tonight was some of the best main-event riding I’ve had. Cooper and I were going back and forth on who could go faster each lap, and the lappers were causing us both problems. I made up some points in the championship, but I still have to fix some mistakes. Overall, I’ve been having fun, I’m happy with where I’m at, and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Nichols: “It was an interesting day, to say the least. Qualifying wasn’t the best, placement-wise, so I put myself behind early in the night. I got a decent start in the main from where I was, but I was just kind of stuck. There’s a big group of us that are pretty much the same speed, so I need to put myself in a better position early on. I feel like the bike’s in a better position, and I’m in a better spot. We’ll try again next week.”
Hymas: “It was another weekend similar to ones we’ve had over the last couple of years, where we end up with a bittersweet feeling. Hunter’s win in the 250 class was unbelievable, and then watching Chase almost win his race gave us a weird mix of emotions. All in all, you have to look on the bright side: Chase is only two points down in the championship, and Hunter had an amazing win. We have to try to improve with Colt and Chance, but we have some pretty good ideas on how to do that. We’re looking forward to Oakland next weekend.”
Lindstrom: “It was another weekend similar to ones we’ve had over the last couple of years, where we end up with a bittersweet feeling. Hunter’s win in the 250 class was unbelievable, and then watching Chase almost win his race gave us a weird mix of emotions. All in all, you have to look on the bright side: Chase is only two points down in the championship, and Hunter had an amazing win. We have to try to improve with Colt and Chance, but we have some pretty good ideas on how to do that. We’re looking forward to Oakland next weekend.”
Words and images: Honda