The SuperMotocross World Championship kicked off with Playoff 1 of the inaugural post-season, a culmination of Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons. The racing was thrilling on a racetrack built along and across the four-lane zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Champion Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton earned two convincing Moto wins to take the Playoff 1 event overall victory.
Chase Sexton earned perfect 1-1 Moto scores in Charlotte to prove he’s the racer to beat in the sport’s first ever post-season. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki’s Ken Roczen returned to racing after taking most of the AMA Pro Motocross season off; he earned second overall with 3-3 moto scores. Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis showed top speed as he took home third overall in Concord with 2-4 moto finishes. In 250 Class racing, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda earned the event win through 4-1 Moto scores in the highly competitive and aggressive 250 class.
The first-ever post season event treated fans to a great start of the premiere off-road motorcycle series. The SuperMotocross World Championship is composed of two Playoff rounds and one Final, raced over the three consecutive weekends. The points payout will double at Playoff 2 and be awarded at triple their normal payout at the Final. When the dust has settled, the 450 Class SMX Champion will earn a cool $1,000,000 championship win bonus and the 250 Class SMX Champion will take home $500,000. The riders competing were seeded based on their combined points of the two 2023 race seasons and allotted points equivalent to one race prior to the start of the post-season.
Ken Roczen led the early laps of the second moto in the 450 Class.
Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
In the 450 Class’ first moto Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia grabbed the early lead out of the unique split start that funneled 22 riders together at the corner exits of two separate first turns. HBI Racing’s Ty Masterpool ran in second with Chase Sexton in third, Red Bull KTM’s Aaron Plessinger in fourth, and Dylan Ferrandis rounding out the top five. Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence, who had just completed an undefeated AMA Pro Motocross season two weeks prior, was off to a mid-pack start. Within a few laps of the 20-minute plus one lap moto Sexton used the track’s split lane to take the lead from Barcia. From there Sexton put down smooth, fast laps and pulled clear of the field. Just before the Moto’s midpoint Jett Lawrence tipped over on the track’s off-camber corner and remounted back in tenth place. Roczen was the rider on the move, getting up to third place behind Ferrandis as Barcia found himself back in fourth. As the race clock ticked down, Sexton held a lead of more than eight seconds while behind him the battle tightened up for second place. At the checkered it was Sexton, followed by Ferrandis, Roczen, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson, and Plessinger. Lawrence managed to climb back to seventh at the finish.
The second 450 Class Moto and final race of the day saw privateer Ty Masterpool grab the Holeshot ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, Roczen and Plessinger. Roczen wasted no time, slipping into second in the first few turns then taking over the lead in the first pass through the track’s long rhythm section. One lap into the Moto Roczen was pulling a gap on the field of Masterpool, Cianciarulo, Anderson, Sexton, and Barcia while Jett Lawrence sat in tenth. On the next pass through the rhythm lane Cianciarulo crashed, handing third place to Anderson. Sexton was on the charge and moved into third as Lawrence reached seventh place back in the pack. Before five minutes was off the race clock Sexton was into second place and looking up the track at Roczen, who held a 5.5 second lead. Sexton inched up on Roczen, then just after the Moto’s mid-point he quickly closed the gap. Sexton used an inside line on the off-camber turn to take over the lead and pull out a comfortable gap. With just over two minutes left on the race clock Lawrence leapt past Roczen to grab second place. Sexton went unchallenged to the checkers to sweep both Motos, take the event overall win and its $100,000 win bonus, and extend his points lead in the post-season.
Jo Shimoda (#30) used 4-1 moto scores to earn the 250 Class victory at the sport’s first post-season race. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
In the 250 Class’ first Moto, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Seth Hammaker grabbed the Holeshot ahead of three Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammates Levi Kitchen, Justin Cooper, and Haiden Deegan, as well as Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryder DiFrancesco. Kitchen used the track’s split lane to take over the lead on the first lap. Just two minutes into the 20-minute plus one lap Moto the 2023 Eastern Regional 250SX Class and 250 AMA Pro Motocross Champion, Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence, washed out his front end and fell, going from a mid-pack spot to last place in the 22-rider field. Hammaker was next to crash, in a near replay of Lawrence’s fall the lap before. Hammaker’s slide-out dropped him from second place back to sixth. Five minutes into the Moto, Kitchen held first place ahead of Deegan, DiFrancesco, Red Bull KTM’s Tom Vialle, and Jo Shimoda. Just past the race’s midpoint Deegan started applying heavy pressure on Kitchen for the lead while about eight seconds behind them DiFrancesco and Vialle scrapped for third. With just over five minutes left on the race clock Deegan took the lead via a different option in the split lane. Shortly after, a battle for third place saw Vialle emerge with the spot. At the checkers Haiden Deegan grabbed the first-ever SuperMotocross post-season victory, Kitchen earned second, and Vialle took third.
Ryder DiFrancesco took the Holeshot in the second 250 Class Moto but Vialle was around him just after the holeshot stripe. Shimoda, Hammaker, and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Jordon Smith were close in tow. First moto-winner Deegan was in 13th and post-season favorite Hunter Lawrence was 19th after tipping over in the first corner. Shimoda put early pressure on Vialle but could not break through. Between the two racers, the Moto winner between them would take the overall victory and the $50,000 race win bonus. Deegan reached fifth place before the race’s midpoint and, with the front pack still running very close, had the lead within sight. Further back, Hunter Lawrence seemed unable to climb higher than 12th place. With just over six minutes left on the race clock Shimoda used an outside line to pass Vialle in one of the tracks’ wide, sweeping turns. Shortly after that the top four broke away from Deegan, putting the rookie’s chance at an overall win out of reach. Shimoda built a 2.6 second lead by the final lap and cruised into the sport’s history books as the first event winner in SuperMotocross post-season racing.
Jackson Vick earned the win in the SMX World All Stars race, a 65cc class of young racers between the age of 8-12. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
Between the 450 and 250 Class motos a 65cc World All-Stars invitational race was run on the full SMX track. Cobra Elite’s Gavin McCoy grabbed the early lead of the 22-racer field composed entirely of riders between the ages of 8-12. Munn Racing’s Brycen DeJonge held second early but JK Cycles’ Jackson Vick was on the move and took over second a few turns into the race in the motocross-style section of the course. Within the opening lap Vick had moved into the front spot and from there he pulled away from the field. Late in the 8-minute plus one lap race, Dunlop’s Easton Graves moved into second place and held it to the end with McCoy earning third place.
The SuperMotocross League holds Playoff 2 next weekend, September 16th, in Joliet, Illinois at Chicagoland Speedway. The same seeded riders are guaranteed a spot on the gate and the same LCQ racers will have to battle their way into the points-paying Motos. The overall finishing positions for Playoff 2 will pay double points to the racers. 450 Class racers will rack up points toward winning the $1,000,000 championship win bonus. 250 Class racers will vie for the championship prize of $500,000. With large finishing bonuses all the way down to the 22nd position, the racers will battle harder than ever on the world’s most challenging tracks for their piece of 2023’s total purse of $10,000,000.
Opening Ceremonies at Chicago’s SuperMotocross World Championship Playoff 2 begin at 7:30PM Eastern Time. The event will be broadcast live on Peacock, with two race re-airs – the first on NBC on September 17th at 12:00PM ET and the second airing on CNBC on September 18th at 1:00 AM ET.
Tickets are on sale now to be a part of the sport’s first post season with Playoff 2 up next and then the Final in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 23rd, where the sport of Monster Energy Supercross got its start back in 1972 with the Superbowl of Motocross. For ticket sales, race information, updates, track maps, and more please go to SuperMotocross.com.
450 Class podium (riders left to right) Ken Roczen, Chase Sexton, and Dylan Ferrandis.
Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
250 Class podium (riders left to right) Haiden Deegan, Jo Shimoda, and Tom Vialle.
Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.