Jett Lawrence bobbles but wins High Point Pro Motocross and keeps perfect moto record alive
On a rough and heavily rutted High Point Raceway, in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania Jett Lawrence won Pro Motocross Round 4, SuperMotocross Round 21, but the field saw the first signs he might not be perfect when he failed to lead every lap.
Lawrence won both motos for the overall victory and kept that perfect streak alive. And with wins in the first eight races in 450 class, Lawrence tied David Bailey in the defunct 500 class for the best start in the history of the sport.
“It was tricky because when you get into a rut with a lapper that rut goes all the way around the turn,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “I just had to wait and be patient. I was thinking afterward it was pretty sick. I got to race against Ken [Roczen].
“It was a tough day. I didn’t feel too comfortable on the bike today. The track was pretty tricky with the ruts but I’m happy to come away with a 1-1.”
The day started well enough. In Moto 1, it appeared the day would go the way the first three rounds did with Lawrence dominating from start to finish.
Then the first mistake of the Lawrence’s season came just before the halfway point of the first race. He buried his front wheel and crashed, handing the lead to Ken Roczen and second to the privateer Garrett Marchbanks. After his crash, Lawrence was seven seconds behind Roczen for the lead and for the first time all year, there was a lap that wasn’t led by the Australian rookie.
Lawrence got around Marchbanks a couple of laps later and set his sight on Roczen.
“My balance has been a little off today and then I got a little cross rutted, tried to lean my way out of it and that just bit me,” Lawrence said after winning Moto 1. “I got lucky a few times, but that one bit me. Bummer about that, but I was able to make my way back to the front and tried to bring it home from there.”
In Moto 2, Lawrence was pinched in Turn 1 and did not have the early lead for the first time this season. Later while riding fourth, Lawrence was stalled when Aaron Plessinger crashed immediately in front. Lawrence made his way past Adam Cianciarulo with 11 minutes remaining and started erasing Roczen’s four-second lead. With five minutes on the clock, Lawrence grabbed the top spot and held it to the end.
Lawrence now sports a 49-point lead over Dylan Ferrandis in the Pro Motocross standings, which is the equivalent of nearly two full motos.
Roczen was Lawrence’s closest competition throughout the Round 4.
Fighting a knee injury from the Supercross finale and a recent illness that has him on a course of antibiotics, Roczen’s questioned his overall fitness before the race. He faded slightly at the end of both motos. Lawrence caught Roczen with seven minutes remaining in Moto 1. Three minutes later, Lawrence made a pass for the lead with his feet off the pegs. Roczen countered a couple of turns later and made the pass back. On the next lap, Lawrence passed again and fans were treated to the first real challenge to Lawrence’s supremacy.
Near the end of Moto 1, Roczen leaned too far in a corner and crashed with a lap and a half remaining and stalled his bike. He lost more than a minute restarting the Suzuki and fell to eighth.
Roczen led the majority of Moto 2 and finished second in that race.
“The support I’ve been getting from the fans made this so worth it,” Roczen said while holding his son in his arms. “This was a brutal track to come back to. I had two days of outdoors this week with a little bit of testing and I couldn’t be more stoked. This was super tough out here; I rode my heart out. I can’t believe I got second after being seventh in the first moto. That’s so rad and I did this for my son and my family. It’s Father’s Day weekend.”
Adam Cianciarulo continued his upward trajectory. After finishing sixth in Round 1 at Fox Raceway, fifth at Hangtown and fourth at Thunder Valley, he got his first podium at the same track on which he won last Pro Motocross moto in 2021.
“You have to be 100 percent focused the whole time,” Cianciarulo said. “It’s as much about the mental battle as it is physical, for me. It’s been a great year so far and to get good results like this on the podium. I had a lot of pace at the beginning, was running up there with those guys, and that means more to me than the result.
“I’m still here. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m excited about it.”
Ferrandis finished sixth in Moto 1 and third in the second race. He got a poor start in the first moto and suffered a minor crash, which dropped him outside the top 20 at the start. Ferrandis moved into the top 10 with 19 of the 30 minutes remaining and kept digging.
“When you change stuff on the bike and you have to go to the moto straight, you setup to mentally go out on the first lap,” Ferrandis said. “I think finally in that second moto we found a good setup and I was able to push hard, which I haven’t really been able to do in the last three rounds, so it’s good. I small crash in [Moto 1] cost me a good race, but I hope now we can move on and configure the bike in every race and try and fight for wins, That’s my goal. It’s very hard to be in the back like this in the race.”
Cooper Webb finished third in the first moto and sixth in the second to take fifth overall. With Chase Sexton out of the event for the third week, he easily took the SuperMotocross World Championship points’ lead by 35.
Garrett Marchbanks missed out on a top-five on a tiebreaker, but he had one of the best runs of his season in Moto 1. He finished second to the unbeatable Lawrence.
Marchbanks’ second moto got off to a slow start. He was in the mechanics’ area on Lap 1 before incredibly recovering to finish eighth in Moto 2.
“It’s unbelievable right now,” Marchbanks said after his second-place finish in Moto 1. “It’s taken so dang long to get up here. I thought I’d do it in the 250 class, but I guess now we’ll do it on the 450.”
Privateer Ty Masterpool had another strong run with a fifth- and seventh-place finish to land seventh overall.
Despite being on the entry list Chase Sexton did not race.
On paper, it would seem to be the same result that fans are accustomed to see. Hunter Lawrence got a bad start in Moto 1, climbed to third in that race, and won the second moto by more than 10 seconds to take his fourth consecutive overall win of the season.
In reality, things were a little different this time because Lawrence also had a poor start to Moto 2 and had to overcome a start of seventh.
“It’s a good habit I guess,” Lawrence said from the top of the podium when asked about his tendency to win the second race. “I’m stoked. This track was wild. But this is the country club of motocross.”
Lawrence got hung up behind an incident in Moto 1 for the fourth straight week. A pile up ahead of him occurred when Jo Shimoda, riding third at the time, fell and trapped Lawrence. He dropped to 14th.
Lawrence moved into the top 10 at the four-minute mark and was fifth with 18 minutes to go after passing Maximus Vohland. Lawrence stalled in fourth for most of the remainder of the moto and then began to charge on Jalek Swoll in the closing minutes, closing the gap from nearly 10 seconds to four. Lawrence made the pass for third with two laps remaining, to keep his perfect record of moto podium finishes alive.
In Moto 2, Lawrence assumed the lead at the halfway point and cruised to victory.
Lawrence was penalized seven championship points but allowed to keep the victory because the penalty does not impact event results.
Hampshire became one of the few riders to beat Lawrence this year in Moto 1 and was third overall standings by climbing to seventh at the end of the second race.
“I got a decent start and I guess I just ran in too hard in that second corner,” Hampshire said. “I didn’t really expect [Swoll] to come out. It’s just a bummer. That was my teammate too. Not too stoked on that; I apologize to his team. We’ll take it: the second podium on the year. I am stoked on that.”
Lawrence and Hampshire’s problems at the start of Moto 2 were not unique. Jalek Swoll fell to 20th and Deegan to 14th in early incidents after running so well in Moto 1. Hampshire and Swoll initiated the crash when they got hooked together in front of the field.
It was especially disappointing for Hampshire who had his eye set on the overall. In the first race, Hampshire got the early lead and had a nice cushion until he crashed with 12 minutes remaining and handed the lead to Deegan.
Hampshire recovered quickly but lost four seconds to the leader on the next lap. Hampshire caught Deegan when the leader was hung up behind a rider who stalled. Hampshire then made his charge, but nearly crashed on the next jump and was forced to regroup. Hampshire kept the pressure on for the final three laps and crossed under the white flag on Deegan’s back wheel.
On the final lap, Hampshire pounced. He and Deegan made contact with four turns remaining and Hampshire snatched the lead back in the final moments.
“I’m devastated,” Deegan said at the end of Moto 1. “I was fighting hard those last few laps, but RJ is definitely riding really good and we put a gap on those guys. That was a big confidence booster right there. We had some fun. It was a good battle I enjoyed it.”
Deegan went down in a separate incident from Hampshire in Moto 2, but he followed Hampshire as the two sliced through the field and took the final podium position with a #th-place finish in that race.
“That was something crazy. I crashed on the start [of Moto 2], got run over, got the whole nine yards. I got up and my mindset was I’m either going to crash or I’m going on the podium today and I just sent it so hard and made my way up.”
Second in points and coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes, Justin Cooper had a major crash in the final round of 250 qualification and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Entering the race, Deegan was Lawrence’s closet competitor with a 27-point gap, which is more than a full moto of points.
2023 Motocross Race Recaps
2023 Supercross Race Recaps
Salt Lake City: Chase Sexton ends the season with win
Denver: Chase Sexton wins, takes points’ lead with Eli Tomac injury
Nashville: Chase Sexton keeps hope alive; Cooper Webb out
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Eli Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Eli Tomac wins opener for the first time
NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE OF SUPERMOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
High Point by the numbers
Benny Bloss found a home at Beta Motorcycles
SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Thunder Valley
Ken Roczen will race at High Point for first MX of 2023
Phil Nicoletti will return from injury at High Point
Guillem Farres suffers broken arm at Thunder Valley
Thunder Valley results and points
Jett Lawrence goes six-for-six in moto wins at Thunder Valley