Following its first break in action of the summer American motocross returned to the track for Round 5 of the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, with the sport’s own Independence Day tradition as legendary RedBud MX celebrated its 50th anniversary at the FMF RedBud National, presented by INTENSE Cycles. An overcast morning with some light, intermittent showers gave way to abundant sunshine for the motos as the reign of 450 Class dominance by Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence continued with another perfect outing in which he led every lap to go 1-1 in the motos and capture his fifth straight victory. In the 250 Class, an unpredictable afternoon in which heartbreak befell the championship leader opened the door for a breakthrough performance for Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing rookie Haiden Deegan as the second-generation racer emerged with the first win of his promising career.
The first premier class moto of the day saw a familiar trend as Lawrence prevailed with his seventh MotoSport.com Holeshot of the season ahead of Sport Clips/Beachview Treatment/HBI Racing Kawasaki’s Ty Masterpool and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis. The clear track allowed Lawrence to drop the hammer on the opening lap and establish a lead of more than two seconds from the outset of the moto. He continued to add to that margin through the opening stages of the race.
As the moto completed its initial 10 minutes four different riders sat within striking distance of second as Masterpool had to fend off pressure from Ferrandis, Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton, and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo. The Yamaha-mounted Frenchman was relentless in his pursuit of Masterpool but couldn’t find a clean enough line to make a pass happen. That ultimately allowed Sexton, making his first start since the opening round, to take advantage of the opportunity to grab third. Sexton then took his turn in battling Masterpool and was able to take control of second just before the halfway point.
The battle for third saw a renewed fight between Masterpool and Ferrandis, while Cianciarulo lurked in fifth. A bobble by Ferrandis briefly halted his momentum and allowed Cianciarulo to slip past for fourth. The front-runners then settled into their respective positions through the heart of the moto.
The final five minutes saw the action ramp up once again as Ferrandis picked up the pace and was able to find a way around both Cianciarulo and Masterpool to fight his way from fifth to third and inch away from his rivals. Cianciarulo looked to get around Masterpool for fourth and as he attempted to make the pass he slid out and went down, contacting Masterpool whose bike flipped over and launched the rider onto his back. The incident allowed both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson to get by.
Back out front, Lawrence’s dominance over the division continued with his seventh wire-to-wire outing of the season and his ninth straight moto win. He took the checkered flag 17.9 seconds ahead of Sexton, with Ferrandis completing the moto podium in third. Plessinger followed in fourth while Anderson, in his first start of the summer, rounded out the top five.
Jett Lawrence has now amassed the most successful start to a class career in Pro Motocross history with a perfect 10-0 record to open his first 450 Class season.
Photo: Align Media
The final race of the afternoon started with a sweep of the MotoSport.com Holeshots for Lawrence, once again ahead of Masterpool and Ferrandis, who made quick work in making the pass on Masterpool for second and brought both Plessinger and Sexton along with him into third and fourth, respectively. As has been the case all season, the clear track paid big dividends for Lawrence as he completed the opening lap with a 2.5 second advantage on the field.
As Lawrence’s lead continued to grow Sexton looked to put the pressure on Ferrandis, but he lost traction with his front tire and slid out. He remounted quickly but resumed in fourth behind Plessinger, who assumed third. The pressure from Sexton was a spark for Ferrandis who found himself within striking distance of Lawrence. The point leader responded with his fastest lap of the moto to open the lead back up and establish an even larger margin.
Sexton’s recovery from his misfortune saw him reclaim third from Plessinger and set his sights on trying to track down a six-second deficit to Ferrandis. As the moto surpassed the halfway point the top three had settled in and the margins stabilized. When time on the clock ran out the battle for second was on between Ferrandis and Sexton as a showdown between the two headlined the final two laps.
Lawrence’s lead was never in doubt as he wrapped up another wire-to-wire ride to complete the sweep of the motos, finishing 4.8 seconds ahead of Ferrandis, who dug deep to keep his Honda rival at bay and hold on for second. Sexton finished strong in third.
A strong final moto allowed Dylan Ferrandis to secure the runner-up spot (3-2).
Photo: Align Media
Lawrence’s unblemished record has him 10-0 in motos this summer, making for a historic start to a class career having surpassed the previous 8-0 mark established by David Bailey in the 500cc division during the 1984 season. Ferrandis’ stand in the final moto was a difference maker in the overall classification as it gave him the tiebreaker for the runner-up spot (3-2) and forced Sexton to settle for third (2-3).
With maximum points thus far through five rounds Lawrence’s lead in the championship standings has increased to 57 points over Ferrandis, giving the Australian a full race advantage over his competitors. Plessinger moved into third, 76 points out of the lead.
In his first start since the opening round Chase Sexton finished third (2-3).
Photo: Align Media
Jett Lawrence, Team Honda HRC
“Another good moto and another good start. That’s key. I didn’t know Dylan [Ferrandis] was there at first but then I saw my pit board. I looked behind and saw he was right there, so I picked it up. The lappers made it difficult, but it was another good day.”
Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“This is a good step in the right direction. We needed time with the new Yamaha to make it better and the time off helped. We’re improving and that’s good. I was hoping to keep pace with Jett [Lawrence] but he was just too good today.”
Chase Sexton, Team Honda HRC
“It’s nice to be back. That was not a good performance out of me. It was kind of embarrassing and I’ve got to be better. We’ve still got some work to do but I’m looking forward to getting back to the level I know I’m capable of. It’s going to be fun the rest of the season.”
450 Class Highlights – FMF RedBud National
The first moto of the afternoon saw the 40-rider field in the small displacement storm out the starting gate under the first glimpse of pure sunshine. As they emerged from the first turn it was championship leader and Team Honda HRC rider Hunter Lawrence at the front of the pack for the first time in the opening moto with the MotoSport.com Holeshot ahead of Deegan and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Rider DiFrancesco.
The clear track allowed Lawrence to sprint out to an early lead over Deegan, who easily asserted himself into second, while DiFrancesco dealt with pressure from multiple riders, including Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle and his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Seth Hammaker, making his first start of the season. Vialle carried more pace in the opening laps and started to look for a way around his rookie counterpart. The two-time MX2 World Champion appeared to have the pass made, but as DiFrancesco looked to counter the two riders collided and went down together. That allowed Hammaker to move into second, just ahead of his teammate Jo Shimoda and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper.
Lawrence’s lead continued to grow incrementally and as the race surpassed its first 10 minutes the championship leader enjoyed an advantage of more than seven seconds on Deegan. Behind them, the battle for third intensified between Hammaker, Shimoda, and Cooper. Shimoda successfully got by for third, but Hammaker battled back to reclaim the spot off legendary LaRocco’s Leap. Shimoda regrouped and went on the attack again to reclaim the position, which was followed by a brief dismount by Cooper that saw him lose multiple positions in his pursuit of Hammaker. Shimoda then went down in third and lost multiple positions, which handed the spot back to Hammaker.
As the moto surpassed the halfway point both Lawrence and Deegan were able to check out on the rest of the field, while Hammaker’s hold on third remained tenuous. The next challenger to threaten Hammaker was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire. The Kawasaki rider withstood the pressure for several laps, but Hampshire’s persistence eventually paid off and he made the pass with about six minutes remaining.
Out front, Lawrence was in a class of his own and secured his first Moto 1 win of the season in a wire-to-wire effort, crossing the finish line 13.3 seconds ahead of Deegan, who was also never challenged. Hampshire finished in a distant third, while Cooper rebounded to finish fourth, followed by Hammaker in fifth.
Rookie Haiden Deegan is now a winner at the professional level following 2-3 moto scores.
Photo: Align Media
The second moto began with Deegan leading the field through the first turn for the MotoSport.comHoleshot, but he was surpassed by his teammate Levi Kitchen in the second turn. However, all attention was centered on the first turn where Lawrence was on the ground after being collected in a multi-rider incident. The point leader appeared injured and needed assistance from the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit to leave the track and receive medical attention, ending his afternoon.
Out front, Kitchen looked to take advantage of his best start of the season and rode strong in the early laps to solidify his lead over Deegan, which stabilized at around two seconds. Behind them Vialle settled into third, while Cooper and Shimoda battled it out in fourth and fifth, respectively. The top five then settled into their positions in the running order for the majority of the moto.
As time ran out on the 30-minute-plus-two-laps moto the battle for second heated up between Deegan and Vialle. Less than a second separated the two as they took the “2 Lap” board and Vialle pushed the pace to make the pass happen as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
Out front, Kitchen maintained firm control of the moto and led every lap to secure his second career moto win by 8.9 seconds over Vialle, while Deegan brought it home in third.
Levi Kitchen’s second career moto win helped him finish second overall (7-1).
Photo: Align Media
Even though he missed out on either moto win, Deegan’s unparalleled consistency allowed him to prevail with the overall victory with 2-3 moto finishes and break Lawrence’s unbeaten start to the season. Kitchen’s win in the final moto vaulted him into the runner-up spot (7-1), while Cooper made it a clean sweep of the podium for Star Racing in third (4-4).
At 17 years of age, Deegan’s maiden victory in his first full season of competition is the latest accolade for his prominent racing family as he joins his former Supercross and Pro Motocross racing father, Brian, and current NASCAR racing sister, Hailie, as winners at motorsports’ elite level. He’s the 90th different winner in the history of the 250 Class.
At the conclusion of the first moto, race officials reviewed footage to confirm that Cooper had violated Section 2.10, Item b.iii., 9.c.* of the AMA Pro Racing Pro Motocross Rulebook pertaining to the adherence of signal flags. As a result, Cooper was penalized five championship points. Event results were not affected and he retained his podium result.
Despite the DNF in the second moto, Lawrence, who finished ninth (1-40), still holds the top spot in the 250 Class standings after five rounds. He and Deegan are separated by 11 points, while Hampshire, who finished fourth (3-7), sits third, 33 points out of the lead.
A quiet afternoon for Justin Cooper saw him round out the podium in third (9-2).
Photo: Align Media
Haiden Deegan, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
“This is awesome. I knew that consistency would pay off. I’m glad to put America on top at least once this season. This team knows I have a shot at this championship, and they know I have the heart and determination and I can’t thank them enough for all the support they’ve given me.”
Levi Kitchen, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
“The first moto was bad on my part. I got a bad start, so I lined up on the far inside for Moto 2. It was a gamble and it paid off. I got by Haiden [Deegan] off the start and then was able to ride my own race. It feels awesome and I’m looking forward to the races coming up.”
Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“I always want to win but I’ll take [the podium]. We rode hard from the back. I wasn’t able to get the starts I needed but I did my best to close the gap to the guys up front. I kind of hit a wall in that second moto, so I’m happy to be on the podium. We need to keep working and hopefully that win will come.”
**Rule: 2.10. Signal Flags, b. Warning Flags and Signal Lights: iii. White Flag with Red Cross or Red/White Flashing Lights: 9. If Race Direction determines that there was a blatant violation of this rule, the penalty for non-compliance will be: During a Moto Race, if any positions are gained, the loss of the number of positions gained, plus the points and purse equal to two additional positions in the final results for that race, plus two additional points.
250 Class Highlights – FMF RedBud National
The 2023 Pro Motocross Championship will reach its halfway point next weekend with its annual foray to New England. The Crestview Construction Southwick National from Southwick, Massachusetts The Wick 338 will present one of the most unique challenges of the season with American motocross’ most iconic sand track on Saturday, July 8, for the sixth round of the summer. A total of 4.5 hours of uninterrupted moto coverage from Southwick will be streamed live on Peacock and will kick off with Race Day Live, presented by MotoSport.com, at 6 a.m. PT / 9 a.m. ET, followed by race coverage beginning at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET. The race will also signify the network season premiere on NBC, which will carry live coverage of the first moto of both the 250 Class and 450 Class for the first time ever, beginning at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET.