The second half of the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, got underway on Saturday with the series’ annual visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Minnesota’s famed Spring Creek MX Park. The FXR Spring Creek National, presented by Frescados Tortillas, featured partly cloudy skies and balmy temperatures, which set the tone for a highly competitive afternoon of racing at one of the sport’s most dynamic venues. After four captivating motos Team Honda HRC’s Lawrence brothers prevailed with a sweep of the overall victories for the fifth time this season, as Jett extended his perfect season to 14 moto wins and a seventh overall victory in the 450 Class while Hunter returned to the top step of the podium in the 250 Class with his fifth win.
The premier class stormed out the gate for the first time with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo leading the field through the first turn and to the MotoSport.com Holeshot, with Lawrence on his rear fender. Lawrence applied pressure immediately and was able to take control of the moto before the completion of the opening lap. Lawrence’s Team Honda HRC teammate Chase Sexton started up front as well but went down and lost several positions. He remounted quickly and started to claw his way back into contention. He passed Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger for third and then tracked down Cianciarulo for second, making the pass with ease. Nearly five seconds separated the teammates as the moto completed its opening 10 minutes.
It didn’t take long for the Honda’s to gap the field and pull away by double digits, which left the battle for third to be decided between Cianciarulo and Plessinger, while Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson looked to close in from fifth. As the moto reached its halfway point the battle for third became a three-rider affair as Anderson passed both Plessinger and Cianciarulo.
Back up front, Sexton slowly inched closer and closer to his teammate and soon less than two seconds separated Lawrence from Sexton. For the first time all season Lawrence faced a threat from behind as Sexton moved to within striking distance of the lead. As they approached lapped riders Sexton started to look for an opportunity to make a pass. Lawrence responded and picked up his pace to put the lead back over a second.
Sexton kept Lawrence honest for several laps as the teammates traded momentum, but Lawrence capitalized on a slower rider that held up Sexton and opened the lead to more than 2.5 seconds. The lead briefly grew to more than three seconds, but Sexton gained a second and looked to make one last push in the closing minutes. On the final lap Sexton got within two seconds of Lawrence, but he slid out on a downhill and ended the threat.
Lawrence took his 13th moto win by 11.9 seconds over Sexton, while the battle for third stayed intense all the way to the finish. Anderson fended off heavy pressure from both Plessinger and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis to secure third, while Plessinger settled four fourth and Ferrandis fifth.
Jett Lawrence’s perfect season extended to 14 moto wins and seven overall victories.
Photo: Align Media
The final moto of the afternoon got underway with the Hondas of Sexton and Lawrence leading the way, running side-by-side all the way to the MotoSport.com Holeshot, which went to Sexton. After pinching off his teammate Sexton had control of the position but applied too much throttle exiting a corner and lost traction with his rear tire, which allowed Lawrence to assume the lead as Sexton resumed in second. Cianciarulo grabbed another strong start in third, just ahead of Ferrandis. After a third in Moto 1, Anderson was collected in a crash off the start and retired from the moto.
Much like the first moto the Honda teammates easily gapped the rest of the field to set the stage for a head-to-head showdown. Lawrence established a lead of just over a second on Sexton, who bided his time and settled into the moto with no threat from behind. As he gave pursuit Sexton made a costly error that took him to the ground and allowed Cianciarulo to move into second as Sexton remounted in third.
Lawrence enjoyed a double-digit margin following Sexton’s misfortune as Sexton looked to battle back. The Honda rider closed in on Cianciarulo and made quick work of the Kawasaki to reclaim second. A battle for third then started to take shape between Cianciarulo and Ferrandis. As the moto reached its halfway point Ferrandis mounted an attack on Cianciarulo and wasted little time in making the pass for third. Plessinger was able to close in from fifth and also made a quick pass on Cianciarulo for fourth.
It was another uneventful moto for Lawrence out front as he wrapped up his 14th win to extend his perfect season, 16.7 seconds ahead of Sexton. The battle for third came down to the wire between Ferrandis and Plessinger, with the Frenchman able to fend off the pressure for the final spot on the moto podium.
Chase Sexton’s misfortune in both motos resulted in another runner-up effort (2-2).
Photo: Align Media
For the sixth time this summer Lawrence led every lap of competition en route to his seventh straight 1-1 performance. His seven 450 Class wins have allowed him to break into the top 20 on the all-time wins list, where he now sits in a tie with three other riders for 20th. Sexton’s runner-up effort (2-2) will lead him to wonder what could have been with crashes in each moto, while Ferrandis earned his fifth podium result of the season in third (5-3).
Lawrence’s lead in the championship standings has grown to 81 points over Ferrandis, while Plessinger further strengthened his hold of third with a fourth-place result (4-4), 104 points out of the lead.
Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the overall podium in third (5-3).
Photo: Align Media
Jett Lawrence, Team Honda HRC
“It’s a bummer for Chase in that one [Moto 2]. He got the start on me and I know he can run my speed, so it’s unfortunate for him to have that bad luck. It was another good weekend [for me] and now we’re on to Washougal, where I know Chase will be fast again.”
Chase Sexton, Team Honda HRC
“We’re close, but I’m sick and tired of getting second place. I’m disappointed going down in both motos. I kind of blew it. That’s not acceptable and I’m going to throw everything I have at it for the final four rounds. I’m going to get one of these [a win] before the season’s over.”
Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“Tough day for me, but I’m glad to be on the box. It’s tough to accept, but it is what it is. I gave it everything I had and third was the best for me today.”
450 Class Highlights – FXR Spring Creek National
The opening 250 Class moto of the afternoon began with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki of Jo Shimoda at the head of the pack for the MotoSport.com Holeshot ahead of the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing trio of Haiden Deegan, Justin Cooper and Levi Kitchen. Shimoda looked to sprint away and solidify his hold of the lead while Deegan, the new points leader, tried to do the same in second. Kitchen was able to pass Cooper and move into third, while behind the leaders Lawrence, the class’ winningest rider and previous points leader, started to fight his way towards the top five after a start deep inside the top 10.
Shimoda opened up an advantage of 4.5 seconds through the opening 10 minutes of the moto, while the rest of his rivals continued to wage battle with multiple riders jockeying for a spot inside the top three. Cooper amped up his aggression to reclaim third from Kitchen while Lawrence looked to follow through after passing Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire for fifth. Lawrence was persistent and made his way around Kitchen for fourth. The Aussie’s charge forward wasn’t finished. He bided his time and set up an impressive pass on Cooper to move into third and set his sights on his championship rival in second.
A miscue by Deegan navigating infamous Mt. Martin took the Yamaha rider off track briefly, which handed second to Lawrence and also allowed Cooper to make the pass for third. Lawrence faced a six-second deficit to Shimoda when he assumed the position, with a little more than half of the moto to go. Behind him, Deegan lost another position to Hampshire, which dropped the rookie to fifth.
With no one to contend with, Lawrence was able to log the fastest laps on the track and started to take chunks out of his deficit to Shimoda. The battle for third also heated up as Hampshire mounted an attack on Cooper and took control of the position with a little more than 10 minutes remaining. Back up front, mere bike lengths separated Shimoda and Lawrence as they both navigated lapped riders.
With a handful of minutes left in the moto the battle for the lead was on between Shimoda and Lawrence. The Honda rider had more pace, but Shimoda’s ability to control the preferred lines kept the Kawasaki out front. After some minor miscues Lawrence dropped back and prepared for another push in the waning minutes of the moto. The battle raged on as the gap between the duo was like a yo-yo, with lappers impacting portions of their duel. As time ran out, Shimoda and Lawrence were closer than they had been all moto. Lawrence’s aggression amped up as he hounded Shimoda in every corner with alternate lines.
With two laps to go Lawrence was able to position himself alongside Shimoda and out-accelerated the Kawasaki to seize control of the moto. The Honda rider’s lead grew quickly to about 1.5 seconds and he closed it out with his sixth moto win of the season. He took the checkered flag 2.2 seconds ahead of Shimoda while Hampshire followed in third. Cooper finished in fourth, with Deegan completing the top five.
Hunter Lawrence returned to the top step of the podium with his fifth victory (1-2).
Photo: Align Media
The second and deciding moto got underway with Lawrence edging out Kitchen and Shimoda for the MotoSport.com Holeshot to grab control of the moto as Kitchen slotted into second and Cooper in third, just ahead of Shimoda, who was then passed by his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rookie teammate Ryder DiFrancesco. Point leader Deegan started outside the top 10.
The clear track allowed Lawrence to sprint through the opening minutes of the moto and build a lead of nearly four seconds over Kitchen and the rest of the field. The Honda rider continued to add to his advantage as Kitchen lost ground to Cooper and eventually lost the hold of second to his teammate. Behind them, Shimoda made the pass on DiFrancesco to take over fourth. The Japanese rider continued his forward push and was able to close in on Kitchen to initiate a battle for third. The pair engaged in a spirited fight for the final spot on the moto podium before Shimoda used an off-camber outside line to slip around Kitchen and take over the position.
Back out front, Lawrence was in a class of his own out front and was able to pull out a double-digit margin on Cooper, who easily controlled the runner-up spot from the moment he made the pass for the position. Shimoda enjoyed a firm hold of third, but Kitchen continued to lurk in fourth.
Lawrence was in full control of the moto until the final lap when he crashed out of the lead and lost the top spot to Cooper after an apparent incident with a lapped rider. Lawrence remounted in second, just ahead of Shimoda. Cooper carried on to a surprise moto win, his second of the season, four seconds ahead of Lawrence, who crossed the line just ahead of Shimoda in third.
A Moto 2 win vaulted Justin Cooper into the runner-up spot (4-1).
Photo: Align Media
Despite the misfortune late in Moto 2, Lawrence still secured his fifth overall win of the season (1-2) to rebound from back-to-back races in which he recorded a DNF. Cooper’s triumph in the final moto vaulted him into the runner-up spot (4-1) for his fifth podium finish in a row, while Shimoda secured back-to-back third-place finishes (2-3).
The victory allowed Lawrence to return to the top of the championship standings, where he now enjoys a 13-point lead over Deegan, who finished seventh (5-8). Shimoda and Hampshire, who finished fourth (3-6), are now tied for third, 20 points behind Lawrence
Jo Shimoda finished third overall (2-3) for the second straight weekend.
Photo: Align Media
Hunter Lawrence, Team Honda HRC
“We came here with a job to do [win the race] and we did it today. We were so close to being perfect [going 1-1] but I’ve got to be more careful around those lappers. I’m stoked. We’ve got four rounds to go with a little break.”
Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“I wouldn’t say I settled [in Moto 2], but I wanted to maintain the gap in case something happened. That worked out in our favor. We’ll take it. Still have some work to do but we’re making progress and looking forward to next weekend.”
Jo Shimoda, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
“I feel happy with my starts more than my riding. The riding is getting better too. I feel like the bike is getting pretty dialed in so I’m focusing on volume [practice riding] during the week and I think that will help me for the races coming up.”
250 Class Highlights – FXR Spring Creek National
The 2023 Pro Motocross Championship continues next weekend with its final visit to the West Coast, where the Pacific Northwest’s scenic Washougal MX Park in Washougal, Washington, awaits. The MotoSport.com Washougal National, presented by Peterson CAT, will take place on Saturday, July 22, for the eighth round of the summer season. A total of 4.5 hours of uninterrupted moto coverage from Washougal will be streamed live on Peacock and will kick off with Race Day Live, presented by MotoSport.com, at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET, followed by race coverage beginning at 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET. An encore presentation of the final motos will air on USA Network on Sunday, July 23, at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET.