This week in US powersports racing.
Jett Lawrence Clinches 2023 Pro Motocross Championship Two Rounds Early with Continuation of Perfect Season at Unadilla
The three-round stretch run of the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, got underway on Saturday from the hallowed grounds of Central New York’s iconic Unadilla MX. A championship atmosphere was in the air at the Honda Unadilla National as Australian rising star Jett Lawrence entered with a chance to wrap up the 450 Class title in his first summer of premier class competition. When all was said and done, Lawrence extended his perfect season for his ninth straight 1-1 performance to clinch the Edison Dye Cup with two rounds remaining. In the 250 Class, the elder Lawrence, Hunter, made it the sixth sweep for the family and Team Honda HRC, which extended his championship point lead and moved him one step closer to a maiden title.
With the 450 Class title within reach Jett Lawrence seized the moment to open the first moto of the afternoon with the MotoSport.com Holeshot, edging out Yamaha mounted veteran Estonian racer Harri Kullas, who was making his Pro Motocross debut. Behind them, Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha’s Garrett Marchbanks slotted into third, with Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton fourth. Both Marchbanks and Sexton were able to make their way around Kullas in the early portion of the opening lap.
The clear track allowed Lawrence to establish an early lead and manage his advantage over Sexton, who made the move on Marchbanks to take control of second. Just over two seconds separated the teammates through the first 10 minutes of the moto. While the Hondas stepped away from the field Marchbanks was forced to fend off Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis, who was on a hard charge from a start just outside the top five. The Yamaha’s engaged in a brief battle before Ferrandis made the pass.
Back up front, Sexton closed to within a second of Lawrence to initiate a battle for the lead. Eager to make a move, Sexton dove to the inside of Lawrence in a corner, which initiated some contact between the two and allowed Lawrence to slip away after Sexton was forced to collect his balance. The lead briefly ballooned to more than 1.5 seconds, but Sexton started to chip away at the deficit once more.
As they entered the final 10 minutes of the moto the HRC duo ran similar lap times, which stabilized the lead. Lapped riders added another layer to the battle and worked into Lawrence’s favor as he moved out to a near three-second lead. Sexton bided his time and made a final push in the closing minutes of the moto. He dropped the hammer and was able to close the gap to within two seconds but as he looked to make quick work of lappers Sexton lost traction and crashed. Ferrandis assumed second as Sexton remounted in third.
Ferrandis was on a charge of his own and closed within less than two seconds of Lawrence on the final lap. Lawrence managed the margin and wrapped up his 17th moto win by 1.6 seconds over Ferrandis, who enjoyed arguably his best moto of the season in second. Sexton followed in a distant third, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo fourth and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger in fifth.
Jett Lawrence is the 2023 Pro Motocross 450 Class Champion following the extension of his perfect season with moto wins 17 & 18 and his ninth overall victory.
Photo: Align Media
The final moto began the same way as Moto 1, with Lawrence at the head of the pack for the MotoSport.com Holeshot ahead of Sexton and Cianciarulo. As has been the case throughout the season the clear track allowed Lawrence to set the tone out front which forced Sexton to settle into second, about two seconds behind.
As the Honda teammates once again established themselves up front a battle for third unfolded between the Monster Energy Kawasaki duo of Cianciarulo and Jason Anderson. Cianciarulo held onto the position for the opening 10 minutes until Anderson made the pass. Not long after Cianciarulo lost fourth to Ferrandis, who was battling his way forward from a start deep in the top 10. The Frenchman wasn’t done as he charged onto the rear fender of Anderson. The two riders made contact, which took Anderson to the ground and allowed Ferrandis to continue on in third.
At the turn of the midway point of the moto Lawrence had added significantly to his advantage, which grew to more than five seconds and continued to increase incrementally heading towards the final 10 minutes of the race. The lead approached nearly eight seconds and stabilized for several laps until Sexton appeared to make a final push with just under five minutes to go and got within less than five seconds. However, Lawrence responded and, combined with one of Sexton’s slowest laps, pushed the lead to its largest margin at nearly 10 seconds.
Lawrence went wire-to-wire once more for moto win 18 to complete a perfect afternoon, taking the championship-winning checkered flag 9.2 seconds ahead of Sexton. Ferrandis finished in a distant third.
Chase Sexton helped give Honda another 1-2 finish
with his fourth straight runner-up effort (3-2).
Photo: Align Media
Lawrence’s 17th and 18th moto wins of the season, and ninth straight overall victory, move him one step closer to a potential perfect season, with two rounds and four motos remaining. His 18-moto win streak is now only bettered by Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart, the only two riders to amass a perfect season in Pro Motocross history. Lawrence is the fifth different rider to capture the 450 Class crown in his first season in the division and becomes just the second Australian to hoist the Edison Dye Cup, joining Chad Reed.
With identical moto scores Sexton (3-2) and Ferrandis (2-3) finished tied for the runner-up spot, with the second-moto tiebreaker going to Sexton to give Honda HRC its fifth 1-2 finish of the season. It’s the fourth consecutive second-place result for Sexton while Ferrandis’ third-place finish marked his sixth appearance on the overall podium this season.
Lawrence needed a 100-point margin to wrap up the title and now holds a 103-point advantage over Ferrandis, who took another step towards securing the runner-up spot in the final standings. Ferrandis is 35 points ahead of Plessinger in third, following the KTM rider’s fifth-place finish (5-5).
Dylan Ferrandis earned his sixth overall podium result of the season in third (2-3).
Photo: Align Media
Jett Lawrence, Team Honda HRC
“This is unreal. I never even dreamed of this because we never thought it was possible to be in this position and be where we are today. Even with the undefeated season, it’s unbelievable with all the hard times we’ve faced [as a family]. I’ve done my best to keep it together and stay focused on the task at hand, but when I crossed the finish line, I was finally able to let it all out. Honda took a risk on us [with brother Hunter] after 2020 and I’m grateful for that, and I’m glad I was able to return the favor.”
Chase Sexton, Team Honda HRC
“I feel like in the first moto my bike was handling really well. I didn’t get the result I wanted with the crash, but I was riding well. Overall, I felt more comfortable today and we’re in a better spot than we were before, which is great.”
Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“In some races when I’m not really feeling great, I’ll get the holeshot and then today when I’m feeling great, I don’t get the starts. I guess it’s just a lack of luck. It is what it is, and I have to come from behind. Still a good day for me. It was the first race of the season where I felt like myself.”
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish // Points)
- Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda (1-1 // 50)
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (3-2, 42)
- Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Yamaha (2-3 // 42)
- Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (4-6 // 33)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (5-5 // 32)
- Harri Kullas, Estonia, Yamaha (7-7 // 28)
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha (6-10 // 26)
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (14-4 // 25)
- Ty Masterpool, Fallon, Nev., Kawasaki (9-8 // 25)
- Fredrik Noren, Lidköping, Sweden, Suzuki (13-9 // 20)
450 Class Championship Standings (Round 9 of 11)
- Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda – 450
- Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Yamaha – 347
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 312
- Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 269
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 260
- Ty Masterpool, Fallon, Nev., Kawasaki – 215
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha – 200
- Fredrik Noren, Lidköping, Sweden, Suzuki – 189
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 147
- Jose Butron, Cadiz, Spain, GASGAS – 138
The opening 250 Class moto got underway with the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing machine of Levi Kitchen leading the way for the MotoSport.com Holeshot ahead of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Seth Hammaker, followed by the Star Racing duo of Justin Cooper and Haiden Deegan.
A spirited battle on the opening lap saw Kitchen and Hammaker trade the lead, from which Kitchen asserted himself out front. Behind the leaders a multi-rider battle unfolded in pursuit of third as Deegan lost multiple spots to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Max Vohland, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda, and championship leader Hunter Lawrance aboard his Honda. This trio continued their push forward as Vohland led the group around Cooper, putting the KTM rider into third, just ahead of the point leader.
Back up front the battle for the lead renewed between Kitchen and Hammaker approaching the halfway point of the moto, as just over a second separated the pair. Vohland continued to lurk in third but came under fire from Lawrence. The top four then stabilized as the moto entered its final 10 minutes.
A quick surge by Vohland carried the KTM onto the rear fender of Hammaker where he made a quick pass for the position. Lawrence then went on the attack and made an aggressive move for third, which allowed Deegan to close in from fifth and make the pass on Hammaker for fourth. As that unfolded Lawrence made the pass on Vohland for second and set his sights on the lead. Deegan then followed with a pass by Vohland for third. With just a handful of minutes remaining the championship rivals looked to close in on the 3.5 second deficit to Kitchen.
Kitchen’s lead dwindled quickly as Lawrence was on a determined march to the front. Soon the fight for the lead was on as Kitchen and Lawrence battled both each other and lappers. Kitchen withstood the attack and opened up the advantage once more. While running third, Deegan’s motorcycle appeared to expire, which brought the rookie’s moto to an abrupt and heartbreaking conclusion. Kitchen parlayed his holeshot into the third moto win of his career, 3.2 seconds ahead of Lawrence in second, while Shimoda inherited third following Deegan’s misfortune. Vohland was fourth, while Cooper rounded out the top five.
Hunter Lawrence is back in control of the 250 Class title fight
after his sixth win of the season (2-2).
Photo: Align Media
A red flag for a downed rider initiated a restart for the final race of the afternoon as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire needed to be attended to. When the field returned to the starting gate and took off for the second time it was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryder DiFrancesco with the MotoSport.comHoleshot, followed closely by Cooper, Shimoda and Kitchen. Lawrence started just outside the top five while Deegan’s late gate pick left him outside the top 20 initially.
Just after the completion of the opening lap Cooper went on the attack and made the pass on DiFrancesco to take the lead, which left the Kawasaki teammates to battle it out for second as Kitchen rode patiently in fourth. Shimoda was persistent and made the pass happen to drop his rookie teammate down to third. As Kitchen looked to apply pressure on DiFrancesco he bobbled slightly, which allowed an opportunistic Lawrence to make the pass for fourth and then make his way around DiFrancesco for third.
A shot at the overall win was on the line as Shimoda and Lawrence engaged in a battle for second, with the Honda rider able to get the better of his rival to move into second. Behind them, Kitchen kept his winning hopes alive with a pass on DiFrancesco for fourth.
Cooper and Lawrence were separated by 5.4 seconds with just under 20 minutes remaining in the moto, but the distance between them continued to grow through the middle of the race as Cooper pushed his advantage to nearly 10 seconds. Lawrence settled into second, a few seconds ahead of Shimoda in third.
Cooper was consistent through to the finish and secured his third moto win of the season, two seconds ahead of Lawrence, who did what he needed to do in bringing home the runner-up result. Shimoda followed closely in third, with Kitchen a distant fourth.
Levi Kitchen (#43) took advantage of a pair of strong starts
to earn his third podium finish of the season (1-4).
Photo: Align Media
Lawrence’s consistent 2-2 finishes were the defining element of his ability to finish atop the overall standings as he edged out Kitchen (1-4) by a single point. Cooper’s win in the second moto vaulted him up to the third and final spot on the overall podium (5-1).
Lawrence’s lead in the championship standings grew to 22 points with two rounds and four motos remaining. Cooper’s podium result moved him into second while Shimoda moved into third, 35 points out of the lead. Deegan’s adversity-filled afternoon saw him drop from second, three points behind Lawrence, to fourth, 36 points out of the lead, after a 17th-place finish (38-10).
Justin Cooper’s Moto 2 win helped land him on the overall podium in third (5-1).
Photo: Align Media
Hunter Lawrence, Team Honda HRC
“Today was good, but it’s more about my brother [winning the championship]. I’m so proud of him. We were never meant to be here, but we trusted the process and it’s amazing to be in the position we’re in.”
Levi Kitchen Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“I’m glad I finally did [well] in the first moto today. I’ve usually done well in the second moto, so today it was nice to get it done in Moto 1. We got two good starts and made the most of the day, so I’m really happy with that.”
Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“Sometimes you have to take some chances. We need to put ourselves in the best position each moto and do the best we can. We put ourselves out front to start the second moto and then managed the gap from there. I’m stoked on that.”
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finishes // Points)
- Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda (2-2 // 44)
- Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha (1-4 // 43)
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (5-1 // 41)
- Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki (3-3 // 40)
- Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM (4-6 // 33)
- Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM (8-7 // 27)
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (6-14 // 22)
- Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki (9-12 // 21)
- Daxton Bennick, Morganton, N.C., Yamaha (14-9 // 19)
- Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS (12-11 // 19)
250 Class Championship Standings (Round 9 of 11)
- Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda – 344
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 322
- Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki – 309
- Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha – 308
- Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha – 290
- RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 288
- Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 252
- Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM – 237
- Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki – 167
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna – 166
IT’S BACK TO BUSINESS FOR JUSTIN BARCIA AT UNADILLA
After being focused solely on the 250 class since the start of the Pro Motocross series, the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing Team team was pumped to have entries in both classes at Unadilla.
- The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing crew was excited to welcome back Justin Barcia at the famed Unadilla course
- Justin had a rough return to action, with a crash-caused DNF in moto one, and a battle through the pack in moto two.
- Pierce Brown scored another top ten 250 overall with a 12-11 day
After sitting out the first eight rounds of the Pro Motocross series following an injury late in the Supercross series, it was back to business for Justin Barcia at his “home” race in Unadilla. He showed off excellent speed early in the day as he qualified in fourth position aboard his MC 450F Factory Edition.
Unfortunately, a crash in the first turn of moto one damaged his clutch lever, and the team opted to remove it. After another crash later in the moto, Justin opted to head back to the pits.
After starting just inside the top 20 in moto two despite another tangle on lap one, Justin methodically picked his way to 14th, making the most of his race to prep for future events.
Justin Barcia: “The day started off really well. I was really having a good time and was going into the first moto with a lot of good vibes and good feels. Unfortunately, I got in a first-turn pile-up, and damaged my bike pretty bad. I tried to do a few laps but I ended up crashing again and had to pull her in and go back to the semi. So that was a shame for the first moto, not really the race I wanted coming back. In the second moto I had the far outside gate pick. I got off to a good jump, but pretty much had nowhere to go in the tight Unadilla first corner so I was pretty buried. I was charging through the third corner and got in another little pile-up and ended up going down. It was an extremely tough moto. That was my first 30 minute moto in a long time. So it was a tough day, but all-in-all it was very nice to be back at the races. We know we’ve got a lot of work to do and knew that this would be a good test for the future Supermotocross stuff. So we’ll keep working and be back next week at Budds Creek.”
Pierce Brown ran inside the top ten for most of the first moto aboard his MC 250F Factory Edition before a crash late in the race dropped him to 12th. In moto two, he started in the low teens before eventually moving up to 11th. Consistency paid off, with an 10th overall.
Pierce Brown: “I had an all-right day, with tenth overall. I definitely want more. We struggled a little bit in both motos, just getting off the gate. I had to come from behind in both motos, especially the second one. In moto one I fell with a lap to go, so I lost some spots there. In moto two I had a charge. I made some pretty good passes with a couple laps to go to get myself in a better position. I’m happy, but I want more. We’re going to push to build for the rest of the season.”
Next Event (Round 10): August 19, 2023 – Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Md.
Results – 2023 AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Round Nine
1. Hunter Lawrence (Honda) 2-2; 2. Levi Kitchen (Yamaha) 1-4; 3. Justin Cooper (Yamaha) 5-1 …10. Pierce Brown (GASGAS) 12-11; 27. Gage Linville (GASGAS) 26-24; 37. Nicolas Israel (GASGAS) 37-31
1. Jett Lawrence (Honda) 1-1; 2. Chase Sexton (Honda) 7-5; 3. Dylan Ferrandis (Yamaha) 2-3… 18. Romain Pape (GASGAS) 33-13; 19. Justin Barcia (GASGAS) 40-14; 20. Jose Butron (GASGAS) 17-19; 26. Jakub Teresak (GASGAS) 25-23; 35. Cody Groves (GASGAS) 35-32
Championship Standings – After Nine Rounds
1. Hunter Lawrence (Honda) 344 points; 2. Justin Cooper (Yamaha) 322 points; 3. Jo Shimoda (Kawasaki) 309 points… 21. Pierce Brown (GASGAS) 55 points;26. Michael Mosiman (GASGAS) 20 points; 35. Tyson Johnson (GASGAS) 13 points; 44. Joel Rizzi (GASGAS) 3 points
1. Jett Lawrence (Honda) 450 points; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (Yamaha) 347 points; 3. Aaron Plessinger (KTM) 312 points … 11. Jose Butron (GASGAS) 138 points; 13. Lorenzo Locurcio (GASGAS) 110 points; 17. Romain Pape (GASGAS) 81 points; 26. Chris Canning (GASGAS) 27 points; 43. Justin Barcia (GASGAS) 7 points; 50. Jacob Runkles (GASGAS) 4 points; 58. Cody Groves (GASGAS) 3 points
DOUBLE TOP-FIVE RESULTS FOR RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING AT UNADILLA NATIONAL
NEW BERLIN, N.Y. – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger delivered another consistent outing with fifth overall in the 450MX Class during Round 9 of the 2023 AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Unadilla, as 250MX duo Maximus Vohland and Tom Vialle raced to fifth and sixth-place finishes.
Launching to a top 10 start in the opening moto, Plessinger sliced his way forward throughout the first race of the weekend and powered his KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION into fifth position as he crossed the line.
A 12th-place start in the second moto of the day meant Plessinger’s work was cut out for him, with the number 7 responding to the challenge by charging hard for the entire moto. Engaged in a mixture of battles as his comfort increased, he eventually secured another P5, which earned him fifth overall.
Following Unadilla, Plessinger continues to hold down third position in the 2023 standings with two rounds remaining.
Aaron Plessinger: “Unadilla started off rough with 18th in qualifying… I only got better from there and worked really hard for both of my fifth-place finishes today with my starts – especially in the second moto. I was happy with how I rode, as I almost chased down fourth in that one. More homework to do, I need to be stronger early and find comfort sooner in the day, so that’s what we’ll work on and finish the year off strong with two to go.”
In 250MX, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Vohland opened Unadilla by posting the seventh-fastest lap-time in qualifying, before battling at the front of the field and finishing a convincing fourth in the opening moto. Starting outside the top 10 in the second outing, Vohland went on to finish in sixth place, which also resulted in fifth overall and he sits P7 in the points-race.
Maximus Vohland: “I started the day well here qualifying in P7 – I’ve always liked Unadilla and I feel like it suits my style. I got off to a good start in moto one, inside the top five, and just felt like I had a good flow going. I tried to chase down Levi [Kitchen] for the lead, but ended with a couple mistakes and finished fourth. Second moto, rode well again, I just didn’t get off to a great start after the restart. Fought my way into sixth and then ran out of tear-offs, so that’s where my charge ended and finished the day with fifth overall.”
After crashing out of the previous round, dual MX2 World Champion Vialle bounced back in New York. Two consistent motos saw the Frenchman capture an 8-7 scorecard aboard his KTM 250 SX-F, sealing him sixth place overall and he’s currently positioned eighth in the championship.
Tom Vialle: “Unadilla is a tough track – it’s actually super-fast! There were a lot of ruts that were really long, which made for a unique challenge, and really, I just struggled with finding a flow all day, to be honest. Both motos, I didn’t ride how I’d have liked to, but we have another race next weekend and I’m excited to give it my all at Budds Creek.”
Next Race: August 19 – Mechanicsville, Maryland
Results 450MX Class – Unadilla National
1. Jett Lawrence (AUS), Honda, 1-1
2. Chase Sexton (USA), Honda, 3-2
3. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA), Yamaha, 2-3
5. Aaron Plessinger (USA), KTM, 5-5
30. Max Miller (USA), KTM
38. Christopher Prebula (USA), KTM
40. Crockett Myers (USA), KTM
Results 250MX Class – Unadilla National
1. Hunter Lawrence (AUS), Honda, 2-2
2. Levi Kitchen (USA), Yamaha, 1-4
3. Justin Cooper (USA), Yamaha, 5-1
5. Maximus Vohland (USA), KTM, 4-6
6. Tom Vialle (FRA), KTM, 8-7
20. Derek Kelley (USA), KTM
21. Brock Bennett (USA), KTM
23. Josh Varize (USA), KTM
28. Hunter Cross (USA), KTM
29. Marcus Phelps (USA), KTM
30. Slade Smith (RSA), KTM
31. Cameron Durow (RSA), KTM
32. Jimmy Decotis (USA), KTM
35. Gerhard Matamoros (HON), KTM
37. Leo Tucker (USA), KTM
Standings 450MX Class 2023 after 9 of 11 rounds
1. Jett Lawrence, 450 points
2. Dylan Ferrandis, 347
3. Aaron Plessinger, 312
9. Cooper Webb, 147
30. Max Miller, 22
36. Dante Oliveira, 15
38. Christopher Prebula, 12
39. Tyler Stepek, 11
43. Brandon Scharer, 7
46. Kevin Moranz, 5
49. Trevor Schmidt, 4
64. Jeffrey Walker, 1
Standings 250MX Class 2023 after 9 of 11 rounds
1. Hunter Lawrence, 344 points
2. Justin Cooper, 322
3. Jo Shimoda, 309
7. Maximus Vohland, 252
8. Tom Vialle, 237
23. Derek Kelley, 38
25. Slade Smith, 28
28. Josh Varize, 16
34. Jimmy Decotis, 13
36. Brock Bennett, 12
39. Matti Jorgensen, 7
40. Lux Turner, 7
43. Preston Boespflug, 4
45. Marcus Phelps, 2
FOURTH-PLACE FINISH FOR RED BULL KTM’S MAX WHALE AT CASTLE ROCK TT
CASTLE ROCK, Wash. – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Max Whale has raced to a fourth-place finish in Round 16 of the 2023 American Flat Track Championship at the Castle Rock TT, with teammate and current AFT Singles points-leader Kody Kopp riding to 10th position.
After piloting his 450 SX-F to the fourth-fastest qualifying time, Whale charged his way to finish third place in the second Heat of the round, earning a second row starting position for the Main Event. Engaged in a battle for the front-running positions all race long, Whale fought hard to P4, crossing the line a marginal 0.5s from the leader. He sits fifth in the standings.
Max Whale: “Castle Rock TT, didn’t feel overly special today, although as the day progressed I became increasingly comfortable on the track. Qualified in fourth, then finished up with third place in my Heat race, which put me on the second row for the Main Event. I got a good jump, moved my way into fourth, and that’s where I stayed for the remainder as I was right on the front guys all race. This was a really difficult circuit to make passes on, but we’ll shift our focus now to Springfield and finsh this championship out strong.”
Defending champion Kopp experienced a difficult day in Castle Rock, as the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider struggled to achieve comfort on the Washington circuit. After qualifying in ninth place, Kopp raced to seventh in the second Heat race, before posting a quiet run in the Main Event to take P10.
With seven wins to date this season, Kopp continues to lead the 2023 AFT Singles Championship with a 35-point margin as just two rounds remain. He will have another opportunity to potentially clinch back-to-back crowns next time out.
Kody Kopp: “The result from this round stings. We came into the day looking to wrap up the championship, although have now pushed it into Springfield. We came out of here healthy, at least, and that’s a blessing in itself as this place can be chaotic. I notched the fastest lap-time in the Main Event, which was a positive, though the pressure mounted here today and we didn’t execute. Huge shoutout to the team, we’re off to Sprinfield now to chase down this championship!”
Next Race: Springfield Mile I – Springfield, IL – September 2, 2023
Round 16 Results
AFT Singles Main Event
1. Trevor Brunner, Yamaha
2. Dalton Gauthier, KTM
3. Tanner Dean, Honda
4. Max Whale, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
10. Kody Kopp, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
16. Olin Kissler, KTM
18. Declan Bender, KTM
2023 AFT Singles Point Standings
1. Kody Kopp, 308 points
2. Trevor Brunner, 273
3. Tom Drane, 264
5. Max Whale, 244
6. Dalton Gauthier, 235
11. Travis Petton IV, 97
16. Shayna Texter-Bauman, 69
19. Logan Eisenhard, 43
20. Declan Bender, 38
22. Tanner Dean, 27
25. Landen Smith, 15
27. Hayden Gillim, 14
28. Olin Kissler, 14
30. Clarke Morian V, 12
JALEK SWOLL LEADS THE WAY AT UNADILLA FOR THE ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING TEAM
Unadilla always provides its share of thrills, with big elevation changes and huge jumps, as well as extremely long ruts. Fortunately, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team is always up for a challenge.
RJ Hampshire made one of the charges through the pack that he’s well-known for on his FC250 in moto one, jumping from 14th at the end of the first lap to sixth at the finish. Unfortunately, a crash by RJ shortly after the start of moto two brought out the red flag, and he was unable to continue. He’ll be evaluated this week regarding participation in upcoming races.
Jalek Swoll was the top scorer for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team at Unadilla, with a 6-14 score in the two motos, and a seventh overall for the day.
“Starts were okay. Moto one was okay. I came in with a sixth and felt like I had some more in the tank to ride a little better and get a little further up,” said Swoll. “In moto two I came together with another rider. I don’t feel like it was my fault and I felt like there was nowhere to go and was stuck in his bike for what felt like forever. From dead last I don’t know what I came back to…maybe 12th or 13th. It sucks. It feels like a lot of work is being put in but it doesn’t show. It’s all good. We’ll use the fire and try to come out firing at the next two rounds.”
For the third member of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna squad, Talon Hawkins, felt a bit unfulfilled with his 19th overall and a 17-15 day.
“The final placement may not show it, but I feel like I rode great today and rode a lot better than I have been. I had a mishap in the first moto,” said Hawkins. “I came with a clear head into the second moto and ripped a good start. I was in the top five, but unfortunately, my teammate went down and it got red-flagged. My second start after that was not up to par so I had to play catch-up the whole second race. But I ended with a 17th in the first and a 15th in the second for somehow 19th overall. But it’s okay. There’s a lot to improve on, but I’ve been improving every week. I’m ready to get to the Baker’s Factory to keep grinding.”
Next Event (Round 10): August 19, 2023 – Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Md.
Round Nine Results: Unadilla MX
250 MX Results
1. Hunter Lawrence (Honda), 2-2
2. Levi Kitchen (Yamaha), 1-4
3. Justin Cooper (Yamaha), 5-1
7. Jalek Swoll – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 6-14
13. RJ Hampshire – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 7-38
19. Talon Hawkins – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 17-15
26. Jorgen Talviku (Husqvarna), 23-21
34. Cody Williams (Husqvarna), 34-30
450 MX Results
1. Jett Lawrence (Honda), 1-1
2. Chase Sexton (Honda), 3-2
3. Dylan Ferrandis (Yamaha), 2-3
22. Anton Gole (Husqvarna), 16-21
23. Tanel Leok (Husqvarna), 22-18
25. Luke Renzland (Husqvarna), 21-22
31. John Adamson (Husqvarna), 27-31
32. Justin Rodbell (Husqvarna), 31-30
41. Scott Meshey (Husqvarna), 36-DNS
250 MX Rider Point Standings
1. Hunter Lawrence – 344 points
2. Justin Cooper – 322 points
3. Jo Shimoda – 309 points
6. RJ Hampshire – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 288 points
10. Jalek Swoll – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 166 points
11. Talon Hawkins – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 112 points
30. Jorgen Talviku – 15 points
46. Kai Aiello – 2 points
450 MX Rider Point Standings
1. Jett Lawrence – 450 points
2. Dylan Ferrandis – 347 points
3. Aaron Plessinger – 312 points
35. Anton Gole – 17 points
51. Luke Renzland – 4 points
52. John Adamson – 4 points
56. Tanel Leok – 3 points
59. Scott Meshey – 3 points
Daniels Wins Wild Castle Rock TT
Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) closed the 2023 Grand National Championship battle to a single point with a clutch victory in Saturday’s CertainTeed Castle Rock TT presented by Law Tigers as Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, put on a show before another massive crowd at Castle Rock Race Park in Castle Rock, Washington.
Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle title hopeful Daniels needed a win in the worst way and he got it the unexpected way. His Estenson Racing teammate, JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) – winner of eight of the series’ previous nine TTs – took the holeshot and immediately checked out at the front. Daniels, meanwhile, was briefly shuffled back to fourth, running alongside Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) and, more crucially, reigning champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750).
Daniels dove in front of Bauman almost immediately and then set his sights on Mees as Beach continued to disappear. The rising star didn’t wait long to make his move, pouncing on his title rival with more than eight minutes remaining on the clock to take control of second position.
Moments later, Bauman crashed while disputing fourth. That shock twist was merely a teaser for the race-shaking drama set to come, however, as race leader Beach lost the front entering the switchback section approximately 30 seconds later.
Daniels inherited the lead and went about building his own insurmountable advantage at the front. The focus of the contest then shifted to Beach’s comeback after picking up his fallen machine. Beach stormed around the outside of Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650) with little delay to elevate himself back into a podium position. He then looked to reel in Mees, who was nearly four seconds in front of him.
The TT titan finally arrived on the rear wheel of Mees’ factory Indian with just a minute remaining. However, what felt like an inevitable pass became an impossible one after Beach made a minor slip just as the clocks hit 0:00. That small miscue provided the defending champ with just enough breathing space to survive the final two laps and retain second to the stripe.
Mees’ effort to hold on was every bit as critical as Daniels’ to win – and arguably as critical as any of his eight wins this season. As a result, Mees goes into the Springfield doubleheader finale holding both a one-point lead (342-341) and the tiebreaker, shifting the lion’s share of the pressure to his young adversary.
The victory saw Daniels complete the elusive Grand Slam in just his second premier-class season, adding a TT win to his prior Mile, Half-Mile, and Short Track triumphs. Afterward, he said, “As a little kid, I dreamed of being in this position. Just having a chance going into these last two (races) is amazing. I’m not like super excited because I didn’t want to win my first TT that way; obviously I know you’ve got to get to the finish line first. If I was going to beat JD, I wanted to do it straight up. I was so bummed to see him go down just because I don’t want to win that way.
“But I’m so pumped to get that win. It was a crazy Main Event… I was so nervous. I was looking back a whole lot. I know Earl Hayden is up there, reaming me right now. If he could call me after this, he’d be yelling at me. But it was good. The Estenson Racing Monster Energy Yamaha was working great. We knew what we had to do coming in here and we wanted to win.”
The sport’s all-time TT master, Henry Wiles (No. 17 BriggsAuto.com/Martin Trucking Indian FTR750), charged his way up to fourth with Oregonian Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) coming home in fifth.
Three-time Castle Rock TT winner Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Martin Trucking/Castrol Yamaha MT-07) took sixth, followed by Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), Lewis, and Ben Lowe (No. 25 Rackley Racing/Mission Foods Indian FTR750), while local hero Scooter Vernon (No. 274 Hovey Racing/Stace Richmand KTM 790 Duke) rounded out the top ten.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) earned his second win of the 2023 Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER season in a tense ride that saw him on the defensive from green light to checkered flag.
Brunner got the launch off the line to grab the lead entering the opening corner and then spent the next eight minutes and two laps doing everything possible to hold onto that position despite the application of relentless pressure from last year’s Castle Rock TT winner, Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F).
But their duel was not theirs alone. At half-distance, what had been a four-rider stack at the front that also included Tanner Dean (No. 38 Walrath Racing/Hovey Racing Honda CRF450R) and Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) became a five-rider affair with the addition of Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F). And then with a minute remaining, Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) arrived to transform it to a tight six-rider fight for the victory.
With less than 30 seconds to go, Brunner finally made the mistake Gauthier was desperately attempting to force. But rather than pounce, he responded by nearly losing the front himself and was instead displaced to third by Dean.
However, Gauthier somehow willed a path right back past into second and did so in time to line up a last-corner overtaking attempt on Brunner – a bid that came up 0.202 seconds short.
Brunner, who also won the Peoria TT, said, “We just trusted the process. The lines we were doing all day were working really well. I heard (Gauthier) the entire race, just breathing down my neck. But I just remained consistent and held my lines. I had one bobble going into the tight left and just about lost it. But I gathered it back up real quick and put in some more smooth laps and got it done. It feels so good. This is probably my favorite track on the circuit so it really feels good to get a win here.”
Washington native Dean held on in third to go from retirement to the podium, while Whale, Drane, and Saathoff followed close behind in fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
1st Impressions Husqvarna teammates James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) and Chad Cose (No. 49 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) finished in seventh and eighth in that order, followed by Aiden RoosEvans (No. 26 A1R Racing/FRA Trust Honda CRF450R).
Meanwhile, defending Parts Unlimited AFT Singles champion Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) finished an uncharacteristic tenth in front of his home fans. While he came in with visions of locking up the championship, it was a fitting end to a difficult day that saw Kopp advance to the Main Event through the LCQ and then spend the bulk of the Main running just outside the top ten.
But despite matching his worst finish of the season, Kopp continues to dominate the points standings, now 35 points up on second-ranked Brunner (308-273) with just 50 points left in play.
AMA Congratulates 36 Class Champions at 2023 AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship
Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., served as the center of the amateur motocross world from July 31-Aug. 5, with 36 class champions earning AMA No. 1 plates during the 2023 AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship.
After sweeping his way to a national title in the Open Pro Sport class, placing first in all three motos, Yamaha racer Daxton Bennick — a native of Morganton, N.C. — was named the Nicky Hayden AMA Motocross Horizon Award winner.
“I’ve been coming here for 12 years, so a lot has gone into it for sure,” Bennick said. “I’ve always liked this track and this place. Every year, I’ve seen guys win it and I’ve always wanted to win it. So, it’s just a lot of hard work.
2023 Nicky Hayden AMA Motocross Horizon Award Winner Daxton Bennick
“Whenever you get here, you can’t let the pressure get to you,” he continued. “You just have to go out and ride.”
Alongside his first-place finish in the Open Pro Sport class, Bennick was also on the podium for the 250 Pro Sport class, earning second place by going 7-2-6 in the motos.
Bennick wasn’t the only rider to earn special awards over the six-day event, as KTM rider Jeremy Fappani emerged as the AMA Amateur Racer of the Year. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native separated himself from the field by capturing the 250 B Limited National Championship with a 2-1-3 in the motos while adding a second-place finish in the 450 B Limited Class with a 1-8-1 performance.
Klark Robbins of Shamong, N.J., was named the AMA Youth Racer of the Year after earning a pair of No. 1 plates in the 125 Jr. (12-17) B/C (2-1-6) and Schoolboy 1 (12-17) B/C (7-1-2) classes.
The AMA Veteran Racer of the Year was awarded to AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeff Emig, who also claimed a pair of national championships during the event. The Riverside, Calif., native cruised to victories in the Senior (40+) and Masters (50+) classes with 2-2-2 and 1-2-1 results in each class respectively.
“It was yet another successful AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, and we’re so grateful to MX Sports, the competitors and their families for making it such an awesome event this year,” said AMA Deputy Director of Racing Mike Burkeen. “The competition was fierce, and AMA Youth Motocross Racer of the Year Klark Robbins, AMA Amateur Racer of the Year Jeremy Fappani and Nicky Hayden AMA Motocross Horizon Award winner Daxton Bennick all proved they have bright futures in the sport. AMA Senior Motocross Racer of the Year Jeff Emig also showcased his ability on the track with a pair of class wins.”
The complete list of 36 AMA amateur national champions crowned at the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship includes:
Open Pro Sport: Daxton Bennick, Morganton, N.C.,Yamaha (1-1-1)
250 Pro Sport: Gavin Towers, Venetia, Pa., Yamaha (3-3-2)
WMX: Kyleigh Stallings, Yukon, Okla., Kawasaki (1-1-4)
250 B: Krystian Janik, Oak Lawn, Ill., Kawasaki (6-1-1)
250 B Limited: Jeremy Fappani, Scottsdale, Ariz., KTM (2-1-3)
250 C: Robert Weiss, Woodland, N.J., Husqvarna (4-2-1)
250 C Limited: Chase Haynes, Scottsdale, Ariz., Kawasaki (1-1-2)
250 C Jr. (12-17) Limited: Robert Weiss, Woodland, N.J., Husqvarna (2-1-1)
450 B: Jadon Cooper, Baytown, Texas, Yamaha (2-1-4)
450 B Limited: Leum Oehlhof, Oak Hills, Calif., Yamaha (2-1-3)
450 C: Chase Haynes, Scottsdale, Ariz., Kawasaki (1-2-3)
125 C: Makai Olerich, Waddell, Ariz., KTM (1-1-2)
Schoolboy 2 (12-17) B/C: Casey Cochran, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna (1-5-1)
College (18-24): Jesse Wessell, East Falmouth, Mass., Husqvarna (3-8-1)
Junior (25+): Heath Harrison, Silverhill, Ala., Honda (1-1-1)
Vet (30+): Broc Peterson, Delta, Ohio, Honda (1-2-4)
Senior (40+): Jeff Emig, Riverside, Calif., KTM (1-2-1)
Senior (45+): Ronnie Renner, Floral City, Fla., KTM (1-1-1)
Masters (50+): Jeff Emig, Riverside, Calif., KTM (1-2-1)
Micro-E (4-7) Limited: Jarrett Tincher, Elkview, W.V., Cobra (6-1-2)
Micro 1 (4-6) Shaft Dr. LTD: Brody Jones, Blair, Neb., Yamaha (2-1-1)
Micro 2 (4-6) Limited: Kameron Buckman, Huntington, N.Y., Cobra (1-1-2)
Micro 3 (7-8) Limited: Kannon Zabojnik, Rowlett, Texas, Cobra (2-1-6)
65cc (7-9) Limited: Jaydin Smart, Berry Creek, Calif., Cobra (2-1-1)
65cc (7-9): Nico Verhoeven, New Zealand, KTM (11-1-1)
65cc (10-11) Limited: Jackson Vick, Highland Village, Texas, KTM (1-3-1)
65cc (10-11): Easton Graves, Walker, La., KTM (1-1-1)
85cc (10-12) Limited: Nolan Ford, Fairfield, Calif., KTM (2-2-3)
85cc (10-12): Wyatt Thurman, Burleson, Texas, KTM (2-1-2)
Mini Sr. 1 (12-14): Colby Lessar, Centennial, Colo., KTM (5-4-6)
Mini Sr. 2 (13-15): Vincent Wey, Murrieta, Calif., Husqvarna (1-2-2)
Supermini 1 (12-15): Deacon Denno, Malakoff, Texas, Husqvarna (2-1-2)
Supermini 2 (13-16): Landen Gordon, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki (1-2-2)
125 Jr. (12-17) B/C: Klark Robbins, Shamong, N.J., KTM (2-1-6)
Schoolboy 1 (12-17) B/C: Klark Robbins, Shamong, N.J., KTM (7-1-2)
Girls (11-16): Mayla Herrick, Thornton, Colo., Husqvarna (1-1-2)