This week in US powersports racing.
TOP-FIVE FORM DELIVERED BY RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING TEAM IN CHICAGO SMX PLAYOFF
JOLIET, Ill. – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger charged to a fourth-place result at the second stop of the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) Finals series in the 450SMX Class at Chicagoland Speedway, with 250SMX challenger Maximus Vohland finishing fifth overall.
Plessinger was P7 in qualifying on the high-speed, hybrid SMX circuit, with a blend of both outdoor and indoor-style obstacles presenting fresh challenges for riders and teams. Red Bull KTM had Plessinger comfortable from the outset, as the Ohio native made his way forward throughout the entire opening moto, finishing in a hard-fought fifth place.
After launching his KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION to a mid-field start in Moto 2, Plessinger’s pace was once again on display as he made his way through the pack, before crossing the finish-line in fourth position and securing P4 overall for the round.
Plessinger now sits fourth overall in the 450SMX standings and, with triple points on offer for the final round of the SMX Finals series at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next weekend, the premier class title-race remains wide-open.
Aaron Plessinger: “I felt super-comfortable today here in Chicago! The team and I made some great set-up decisions on the motorcycle and I think it really showed. The starts weren’t quite there – I ate a lot of roost tonight – but I was able to charge hard during both motos and was going forward right until the final lap of each race. Excited with where we are at and the feeling that we achieved today! P4 in the standings, and with triple points next weekend, we’ll be fighting hard for the top spot in LA.”
Vohland, meanwhile, recorded the 12th-fastest qualifying time at Chicagoland Speedway, before a poor start in Moto 1 saw the number 34 race his way up into eighth place by moto’s end. Another mid-pack start in the second outing saw him work his way through the field with a strong ride all the way until the checkered flag. He ended up fifth in the race and overall for the weekend.
Maximus Vohland: “I felt really comfortable on the bike right away in Chicago. Struggled off the start in Moto 1 and had to make a lot of passes to get into eighth, which was good. In Moto 2, I got a better start and went from 10th to fifth, so I had a really good ride. With triple points on offer next weekend, we’re still right in this thing and the plan for LA is to put the hammer down and finish the season strong.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle set the tone for his day at Chicago by posting the seventh-fastest 250SMX qualifying time, before powering his KTM 250 SX-F to an encouraging fourth-place score in the opening moto after a race-long battle among the leaders.
Moto 2 began with a top-10 start for the dual MX2 World Champion, however, after racing all the way into third position, Vialle was unfortunately ruled out with a damaged gear-shifter as a result of making contact with a tuff-block, which marked the conclusion of his weekend. Vohland now sits seventh and Vialle eighth in the 250SMX standings with a single round remaining.
Tom Vialle: “Today was good! I finished fourth place in the first moto and we were all super-close, so it was fun to be fighting for the win. And then second moto, I didn’t get a very good start, but I came back really strong and was in P3. Unfortunately, I clipped a tuff-block, which broke my shifter with three laps to go, and I had to pull in, which was disappointing. This is motorsport though and now we have one more to go in LA, where we will finish the season strong.”
Next Race: September 23 – Los Angeles, California
Results 450SMX Class – SMX Playoff 2
1. Jett Lawrence (AUS), Honda, 1-2
2. Ken Roczen (GER), Suzuki, 3-1
3. Chase Sexton (USA), Honda, 2-3
4. Aaron Plessinger (USA), KTM, 5-4
Results 250SMX Class – SMX Playoff 2
1. Hunter Lawrence (AUS), Honda, 1-1
2. Jo Shimoda (JPN), Kawasaki, 2-2
3. Haiden Deegan (USA), Yamaha, 3-3
5. Maximus Vohland (USA), KTM, 8-5
14. Tom Vialle (FRA), KTM, 4-22
21. Josh Varize (USA), KTM
Standings 450SMX Class 2023 after 2 of 3 finals
1. Chase Sexton, 90 points
2. Jett Lawrence, 88
3. Ken Roczen, 80
4. Aaron Plessinger, 74
Standings 250SMX Class 2023 after 2 of 3 finals
1. Hunter Lawrence, 89 points
2. Jo Shimoda, 86
3. Haiden Deegan, 82
7. Maximus Vohland, 59
8. Tom Vialle, 54
Jett Lawrence Wins SMX World Championship Playoff 2 at Chicagoland Speedway
Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence was back on the top step of the podium with a strong overall win at the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoff 2 inside Chicagoland Speedway. Lawrence’s victory came via 1-2 moto scores in the event’s two-race format.
The uniquely created track built inside Chicagoland Speedway was long, fast, and rough. The second-ever SuperMotocross World Championship track challenged the racers and teams in the sport’s first post season racing. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki’s Ken Roczen earned an emotional second place overall finish just days after the birth of his second child; the win moved Roczen into third place in points with a clear path to winning the championship next weekend. Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton earned third place overall on the high-speed, SuperMotocross track that stretched across the storied auto raceway. In the 250 Class, Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence was back on top, winning both motos and recapturing the 250 Class points lead.
Jett Lawrence looked at home on the track that favored motocross technique over Supercross finesse. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
Jett Lawrence grabbed the holeshot in the first 450 Class moto with Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia, Sexton, Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha’s Phil Nicoletti, and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis right behind. Sexton, the winner of both motos at Playoff 1, was quickly on the attack to take the lead, but Lawrence held his spot. Just before five minutes had ticked off the race clock Sexton made a tiny mistake exiting one of the sand turns; that was all it took for Lawrence to break free and sprint out of striking distance. The two Honda teammates put in similar lap times, each taking a different bike set-up approach to their race bikes. Sexton was running a stiff Supercross-style suspension set-up and Lawrence had on his more compliant motocross-style suspension. The difference demonstrated the challenge of all the teams to find an ideal bike set-up for the custom built SMX track. Just past five minutes into the 20-minute plus one lap moto, Ken Roczen took over third place from Barcia in a thrilling back-and forth that had the riders trade the lead multiple times through several sections. The lead group looked mostly settled at that point, but Red Bull KTM’s Aaron Plessinger was on the move after a bad start that had him outside the top ten at the beginning of the race. Plessinger reached sixth place with just over six minutes on the clock and charged after Ferrandis. On the final lap Plessinger made the move into fifth. At the checkered flag it was Lawrence, Sexton, Roczen, Barcia, then Plessinger.
The 450 Class moto two roared off the line and race veteran Nicoletti grabbed the holeshot and led Barcia, Lawrence, Sexton, and Roczen. Lawrence and Roczen were both on the move on the opening lap. Lawrence took the lead from Nicoletti before a minute and a half was off the race clock. Roczen was past Nicoletti forty seconds later and then right on Lawrence’s rear fender and pressing for the lead. Sexton eased into third place but the battle was just out of reach as Lawrence’s and Roczen’s pace pushed the front two into a race of their own. Behind Sexton, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Cooper Webb reached fourth place with Ferrandis right behind. Throughout the race Roczen would fall back two seconds, then make a push and get right back up to Lawrence. With just over eight minutes left on the race clock Plessinger moved into fourth and the front group looked settled. But in the closing laps Roczen closed the gap again and pressured Lawrence. With just over a minute left on the clock Lawrence waved Roczen past, relinquishing the lead but also eliminating the pressure. Fans suspected a mechanical issue, but Lawrence explained later it was an attempt to help Roczen finish ahead of Sexton in the overall results; it was a strategy to gain maximum points on series-leader Sexton. Roczen pulled a comfortable gap while Lawrence maintained his lead over Sexton. Lawrence did earn the overall win and Roczen did finish second overall with Chase taking third. However, Lawrence’s unconventional race strategy did not impact the overall finishing order. Going into the Final next weekend, which pays triple points, Sexton leads Lawrence by just two points and Roczen sits in third only ten points back from the top spot. This creates a ‘winner take all’ finale between Lawrence and Sexton, with Roczen positioned to take the championship if he wins the Final and Sexton fails to finish in second.
Hunter Lawrence took back the 250 Class points lead with strong 1-1 moto scores to win at Chicagoland Speedway. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
When the gate dropped for moto one of the 250 Class Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Haiden Deegan rocketed into the lead ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Tom Vialle, Hunter Lawrence, and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda. Shimoda, Playoff 1 winner, looked aggressive going after third but Lawrence held him off. On the opening lap of the 20-minute plus one lap moto Lawrence made the move on Vialle to take over second at the same time Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire got around Shimoda to push him back to fourth. For the first half of the race all eyes were on the fluctuating gap between Deegan in the lead and Lawrence in close pursuit; it grew and tightened between 1.3 to 2.2 seconds. Seven minutes into the race Shimoda dialed up his aggression and took back fourth place. Thirteen minutes into the race Lawrence pulled up on Deegan’s wheel in a move for the lead. A minute later Deegan made a mistake in one of the track’s deep-rutted corners and wasn’t able to jump the finish line double. Lawrence flew past and soon after pulled a small gap on Deegan. With 2:15 remaining on the race clock Shimoda moved past Vialle and set his sights on Deegan. The racer from Japan put in blistering laps and used momentum from an outside line to jump past Deegan. Shimoda set his sights on Lawrence, who had a two second lead at the white flag. Shimoda quickly closed the gap and got right on Lawrence’s rear tire. Then Shimoda took a hard jolt on an outside rut with a sharp hook in it. Shimoda bit his tongue and cut his chin on his handlebar; and so he dialed back his last-lap attack. Lawrence took the moto one win, Shimoda cruised to second and Deegan held on for third.
The second 250 Class moto provided even more excitement. Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper nabbed the holeshot with Shimoda, Lawrence, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryder DiFrancesco, and Hampshire in tow. In just the opening lap Lawrence bumped past Shimoda in a corner, only to get re-passed by Shimoda in an immediate counterattack. Shimoda set his sights on Cooper and four and a half minutes into the race Shimoda took over the lead while Lawrence sat third and Deegan had reached fourth. A minute later Lawrence overtook Cooper momentarily, but it took another lap of racing to secure the spot. Lawrence now sat just one second back; between he and Shimoda, the winner of the moto would take the event overall and the $50,000 race win bonus. Vialle put in a strong push and got up to third place with eight and a half minutes left on the race clock. But Vialle broke his shift lever and, with his bike stuck in second gear, was out of the hunt for the race win. With less than five minutes left on the clock the battle for the lead took a dramatic turn when Shimoda sensed something wrong with his bike. He later said that he backed down his pace to take the stress off his bike and ensure a finish. Lawrence rode smooth to the checkered flag, the moto win, and with that the overall victory as well. The win gave Lawrence back the points lead going into the SuperMotocross World Championship Final next weekend.
Carson Wood took the win in the dramatic 112cc Supermini World All-Stars race.
Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
At the event’s midpoint the Supermini World All-Stars Main Event dropped the gate for the top racers between the ages of 12-16 aboard 112cc-displacement race bikes. Monster Energy Team Green Kawasaki’s Carson Wood grabbed the holeshot with MTF Ogio Dunlop’s Benjamin Moya, B’s Moto Lab JM Racing’s Darren Pine, and Husqvarna Answer Racing’s Vincent Wey ahead of the screaming pack of two-stroke race bikes. Wey moved into third less than a minute into the eight-minute plus one lap race. The battling was fierce and the racer making the most progress was Fasthouse X Hot Wheel’s Max Shane. At the race’s midpoint Shane took over second place. Late in the race Wey shorted a large double and crashed on the landing, taking down KTM Orange Brigade’s Seth Dennis, who was right behind him. With under a minute left on the race clock Wood held control over the race with a comfortable lead. At the checkered flag the podium finishers were Woods, Shane, and Moya with Dennis recovering nicely from his crash to finish fourth.
The inaugural season of the SuperMotocross World Championship wraps up and crowns two champions next weekend on September 23rd inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The SuperMotocross World Championship Final will pay out triple-points for finishing positions to weigh the final event of the year as the most significant. The purses are the largest in the sport’s history, including a $1,000,000 bonus to the 450 Class champion and $500,000 to the 250 Class champion. Every position pays out more than any other series in two-wheeled off-road racing as part of the total 2023 purse of $10,000,000.
Coverage of the Final begins with the Race Day Live show that covers qualifying, team and rider news, a look at the track, and LCQ live coverage; it starts at 4:30PM Eastern Time on Peacock. Then the event kick-off and updates are covered live on the Pre-Race Show coverage at 9:30PM Eastern Time. Directly following that, the racing will air live on both Peacock and USA Network beginning at 10:00 PM Eastern Time. The race coverage will re-air on September 25th at 1:00 AM Eastern time on CNBC.
Tickets are on sale now to witness the final round of the sport’s first post season with the SuperMotocross World Championship Final at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the same stadium that kicked off the sport of Monster Energy Supercross back in 1972 with the Superbowl of Motocross. For ticket sales, race information, video highlights, updates, track maps, and more about the September 23rd event, please visit SuperMotocross.com.
450 Class podium (racers left to right) Ken Roczen, Jett Lawrence, and Chase Sexton.
Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
450SMX Playoff 2 Results
- Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-2)
- Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki (3-1)
- Chase Sexton, LaMoille, IL., Honda (2-3)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (5-4)
- Dylan Ferrandis, Bedarrides, France, Yamaha (6-5)
- Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (4-10)
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha (8-7)
- Phillip Nicoletti, Bethal, N.Y., Yamaha (7-9)
- Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki (13-6)
- Colt Nichols, Muskogee, OK, Kawasaki (12-8)
450SMX Class Championship Standings
- Chase Sexton, LaMoille, IL., Honda (90)
- Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (88)
- Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla. Suzuki (80)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (74)
- Dylan Ferrandis, Bedarrides, France, Yamaha (71)
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha (60)
- Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (59)
- Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki (58)
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha (44)
- Adam Cianciarulo, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki (42)
250SX Class podium (racers left to right) Jo Shimoda, Hunter Lawrence, and Haiden Deegan.
Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
250 SMX Playoff 2 Results
- Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-1)
- Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki (2-2)
- Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (3-3)
- RJ Hampshire, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Husqvarna (5-4)
- Maximus Vohland, Granite Bay, Calif., KTM (8-5)
- Jordon Smith, Belmont, N.C., Yamaha (10-8)
- Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Pa., Kawasaki (9-9)
- Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha (6-12)
- Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki (12-7)
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (7-13)
250SMX Class Championship Standings
- Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (89)
- Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki (86)
- Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (82)
- Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha (63)
- RJ Hampshire, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Husqvarna (62)
- Jordon Smith, Belmont, N.C., Yamaha (62)
- Maximus Vohland, Granite Bay, Calif., KTM (59)
- Tom Vialle, France, KTM (54)
- Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki (54)
- Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Pa., Kawasaki (49)
SMX Supermini World All Stars Results
- Carson Wood, Zephyrhills, Fla., Kawasaki
- Max Shane, Oceanside, Calif., KTM
- Benjamin Moya, Santiago, Chile, GASGAS
- Seth Dennis, Brooksville, Fla., KTM
- Logan Mortberg, Pierson, Fla., KTM
- Darren Pine, Montgomery, Tex., GASGAS
- Jayce Wolf, Franklin, Wis., KTM
- Wyatt Duff, Lexington, Ky., KTM
- Carson Millikan, Surprise, Ariz., KTM
- Kane Bollasina St. Louis, Mo., KTM
Suzuki and HEP Motorsports Extend Partnership With Multi-Year Agreement
Suzuki Motor USA, LLC is pleased to announce its continuing partnership with HEP Motorsports through the 2025 season as Suzuki’s premier SMX race team. With HEP Motorsports’ solid success in 2023, the partnership continues with both racing and joint marketing initiatives including Suzuki’s RM Army Boot Camp events among other things.
In 2023, HEP Motorsports’ Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki squad featured elite racer Ken Roczen on the Suzuki RM-Z450. With Roczen, HEP carded a solid and consistent season, winning the Indy Supercross in thrilling style and earning several podium results and third in the Championship. HEP Motorsports also earned consistent results in the outdoor motocross season with several top-ten finishes.
Suzuki and HEP Motorsports celebrate their first win together at the
With the 2023 post-season progressing to crown the inaugural SMX World Champions, HEP Motorsports and Roczen achieved second overall in rounds one and two of the SMX playoff format. With this strong showing, HEP Motorsports’ lead rider is now ranked third overall for the 2023 SMX World Championship going into the final round at the L.A. Coliseum and a shot at the SuperMotocross World Championship.
The HEP Motorsports 2023 squad also fields the Twisted Tea Suzuki Presented by Progressive Insurance effort with veteran riders Kyle Chisholm and Fredrik Noren. Chisholm is currently ranked 18th, and Noren 14th in the SMX post-season rankings. The HEP Motorsports 2024 rider lineups will be announced later in 2023.
“We are excited to challenge for the 2024 SMX World Championship with Suzuki. Our program and partnership successes with Suzuki continue to evolve for 2024 and beyond. With this partnership we are in the best position to continue to have successful results,” said HEP Motorsport’s team principal and Pipes Motorsports Group executive, Dustin Pipes. “It is an inspiring time to be a Suzuki Racing fan as we continue to discover new advances in the team’s mission to excel in the SuperMotocross format and we are eager to demonstrate our team’s continued strengths to the RM Army.
2023 saw HEP Motorsports and Suzuki expand their partnership by jointly hosting multiple RM Army Boot Camp events throughout the United States. These Suzuki ride day events were held at premier racetracks for hundreds of Suzuki RM and RM-Z riders to enjoy. Each event allows the RM Army attendees to interact with, learn from, and hang with HEP Motorsports riders and team technicians at these fun, exclusive, yet friendly events. Based on the Boot Camp events’ 2023 successes, 2024 Suzuki RM Army Boot Camp event planning is underway, and the 2024 calendar will be announced soon.
“Suzuki is immensely proud of the 2023 race season and the partnership with HEP Motorsports. The team has grown into a podium and race-winning program, and we are excited to continue building the partnership with a multi-year extension,” said Chris Wheeler Motorsports Manager at Suzuki Motor USA, LLC. “Having a dedicated and fun team for fans to rally behind while also providing value for Suzuki customers with innovative projects like the RM Army Boot Camps, makes it very rewarding and motivating to continue pushing forward.”
“Having the opportunity to come on as Team Manager for the HEP Suzuki team and go racing in the premier class this season was very exciting for me,” said Larry Brooks, Team Manager for HEP Motorsports. “Getting to the top of the podium with HEP and Suzuki was such a cool feeling and it’s great knowing we are continuing for 2024 and beyond. Testing and development is going well on Suzuki’s rock-solid RM-Z450 and I’m looking forward to continuing going into battle with my team.”
Suzuki’s RM-Z450 and RM-Z250 are poised for more SMX competition excitement in 2024 and beyond, as the Suzuki and HEP Motorsports partnership continues to pay dividends and results. Suzuki is excited to continue its successful racing heritage as it competes in the 2024 SMX World Championship and looks forward to seeing the entire RM Army continuing enthusiasm and loyalty. The 2024 SMX League season debuts in January 2024 at Angel Stadium for Anaheim 1.
Photos by BrownDogWilson Photography
The AMA Congratulates 2023 AMA Speedway National Champion Max Ruml
For the second time in his 15-year racing career, Max Ruml stood alone atop the AMA Speedway National Championship standings, completing his run to the title with a strong showing in the third round of the 2023 season at the Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn, Calif.
After missing out on the 2022 title by just one point, Ruml left little to chance during the 2023 campaign. Ruml held a six-point lead over Broc Nicol entering the final round of competition, thanks to a second-place finish and a victory in the first two rounds. In the final leg of the circuit, Ruml rode mistake-free through qualifying and ultimately claimed second place in the race, capping off his title run.
“The AMA congratulates Max Ruml on his second national championship,” AMA Track Racing Manager Ken Saillant said. “Max has been on quite the roll the past few seasons. With two titles in the last three years, Max has elevated himself to the top of the sport while competing against great competition.”
In all, Ruml finished the season with 59 points — 12 more than Nicol, who finished in second place — while scoring at least 19 points in each of the three races.
2023 AMA Speedway National Championship Results
- Max Ruml – 59
- Broc Nicol – 47
- Billy Janniro – 44
- Louie Mersaroli – 38
- Dillon Ruml – 34
- Slater Lightcap – 30
- Alex Martin – 21
- Russel Green – 20
- Blake Borello – 18
- Eddie Castro – 14