Aussie Jett Lawrence wins inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship in Los Angeles
From Feld Entertainment:
Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence won both motos at the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship Finals inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where Supercross got its start. The Australian racer earned the wins on the night and the points needed to become the sport’s first SuperMotocross World Champion.
ECSTAR Suzuki’s Ken Roczen finished a close second place in both motos and with that the points for the runner-up position in the inaugural post-season championship. Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton, the points leader heading into the round, led the final moto but a bad crash in the track’s sand section relegated him to third position in the championship. It was Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Cooper Webb who took home the third place spot at the Los Angeles finale and with that secured the fourth place spot in the championship. In the 250 Class, rookie Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Haiden Deegan won the night as well as the 250 Class title to wrap up his first year of professional racing as a World Champion.
The 2023 SuperMotocross World Championship season wrapped up where the sport of Supercross got its start, inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Photo: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
The first moto of the 450 Class was off to an exciting start, but just after taking over the lead in the opening laps GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia crashed hard and the race was red-flagged. The racers then lined up for a staggered restart with 16 minutes remaining on the race clock. After the restart Ken Roczen went after leader Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson while Lawrence moved past Sexton to take over third. Roczen cut under Anderson in the bowl turn after the sand section to take the lead with 12:43 left on the clock. Lawrence was launching a large quad jump and used it to make up the gap and put an inside pass attempt on Roczen in the following corner. The riders came together and Lawrence nearly went down, but Roczen held the lead. On the next lap Lawrence used his advantage with the quad jump to make the pass into the lead while behind him Sexton had passed Anderson for third place. Roczen later said he knew about the quad jump option, and with Lawrence inching away he decided to also launch the long jump each lap. Roczen closed from 1.8 seconds back to bring the lead to just one second, but the German rider could not get close enough to make a pass attempt. At the checkered flag Lawrence took the moto win ahead of Roczen, Sexton, and Anderson. The first moto finishing positions would combine with the second moto results to determine the World Championship and its $1,000,000 bonus.
Chase Sexton grabbed the holeshot of the second 450 Class moto and with it put himself in the points lead for the title ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, Jason Anderson, Cooper Webb, Jett Lawrence, and Ken Roczen. By the third corner, Lawrence was up into third place while Roczen worked on Webb in the early, tight racing. With just over two minutes off the clock in the 20-minute plus one lap moto, Roczen pushed his way into third place and the stage was set perfectly for the top three in points to settle the fight for World Champion. Sexton had pulled out more than a four second lead at the race’s midpoint, then made a dramatic mistake in the sand section; Sexton got leaned over going off a sand jump, landed hard, and was out of the race. It was then down to two, with Lawrence maintaining a lead over Roczen of just over one second. Roczen would close the gap in some parts of the track, but overall Lawrence maintained a small bit of breathing room. As the clock neared zero Roczen got held up by a lapper and dropped back three seconds. In the final two laps Roczen tightened the gap back up but never got in range to make a pass. Lawrence launched off the finish line double, setting off the winner’s pyrotechnics on the track and a string of fireworks around the legendary stadium. With 1-1 moto finishes, Lawrence took the final win and with it the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship with its $1,000,000 bonus. Roczen earned 2nd place in both the race and championship and pocketed $500,000 for himself, while Chase Sexton took 3rd in the championship and a $250,000 bonus. At the final event podium, it was Cooper Webb who stood 3rd on the night, with 5-3 moto scores and enough points to finish 4th in the championship and its $200,000 bonus.
Australian rider Jett Lawrence flying high after tough battles in both motos to take the first-ever SMX World Championship. Photo: Feld Motor Sports.
The first 250 Class moto was a thriller from the drop of the gate. Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jalek Swoll grabbed the holeshot ahead of Haiden Deegan, Red Bull KTM’s Tom Vialle, Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper, and Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryder DiFrancesco. Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda sat in 9th. Post-season points-leader Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence was not racing due to an injury during qualifying. Vialle was into the lead early but Yamaha Star Racing’s Jordon Smith was the rider on the move, pushing into 3rd place five minutes into the 20-minute plus one lap moto. The lead pack stayed close. Then with just over eight minutes left on the race clock, Smith pushed past Deegan for 2nd and went after Vialle. In less than a lap Smith railed an outside line and charged side by side with Vialle through a jump section and up the legendary Peristyle. Smith took the lead and never looked back. Soon after, Deegan tried to square up a turn to get under Vialle, but Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire cut under and took 3rd place away from Deegan. The two put up a back-and-forth exchange of passes as Shimoda closed in on both riders. With just over five minutes remaining on the clock the top five riders occupied the same rhythm lane. Deegan tried to bump his way past Vialle in a bowl turn, but the pass was unsuccessful and in the next corner Shimoda pushed his way by Deegan while he pushed the rookie wide at a corner exit. The final laps provided intense battles for both the lead and for 3rd, with every rider pushing their hardest to be in the best position to win the World Championship. At the checkers Smith held on for the win, Hampshire was close in 2nd, Vialle took 3rd, Shimoda earned 4th, and Deegan crossed the line in 5th.
Haiden Deegan, the newly named SMX 250 World Champion, his famous X-Games father Brian to the far right. Photo: Feld Motor Sports.
In the second 250 Class moto, Deegan was the first to pass the holeshot stripe but his teammate Levi Kitchen took over the lead before the second corner. Kitchen led Deegan, Justin Cooper, Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Talon Hawkins, and Jo Shimoda. In the second corner, moto-1 winner Jordon Smith went down, and Tom Vialle was off the track just one turn after that. Three laps into the race Shimoda took over 4th place, and from there the top four circled the track with none close enough to make a pass attempt on the rider ahead. Just before the midpoint Deegan looked to be making a move on Kitchen, but after nearly falling in a turn appeared to settle into 2nd and prepare for a possible late-race battle. Jo Shimoda fell back to nearly seven seconds off the leader, but in the closing laps he put on one of his late-race surges. Shimoda closed in but never got close enough to challenge for 3rd. At the checkered flag Kitchen took the moto win. Deegan earned 2nd in the moto and with that enough points to win overall for the event and, more significantly, win the first-ever 250 Class SuperMotocross World Championship by five points over Jo Shimoda. RJ Hampshire took 3rd place honors in the post-season series.
Notable on the night, Jett Lawrence had moved from the 250 Class to the 450 Class mid-season after winning the 2023 Western Regional 250SX Class title; he won the World Championship in his 450 Class rookie year. Similarly, Haiden Deegan was in his rookie pro racing season, and in fact started it a few races into the Supercross season. Deegan also shares a place in history now with his father, Brian Deegan, the legendary X-Games Freestyle Motocross rider who earned a Supercross win and landed the very first 360 twisting backflip motocross jump, both inside the storied stadium. With the SuperMotocross World Champions crowned and the full 2023 purse of $10 million dollars paid out, race fans look ahead toward 2024 racing; the 17-round Monster Energy AMA Supercross season and 11-round AMA Pro Motocross season schedules have been released.
For more info on this year’s inaugural SuperMotocross World Series, click here:
*All photos and info supplied by Feld Entertainment.
450SX Class podium (racers left to right) Ken Roczen, Jett Lawrence, and Cooper Webb, and 250SX Class podium (racers left to right) Jo Shimoda, Haiden Deegan, and RJ Hampshire. Photos: Feld Motor Sports