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2023 AMA Pro Motocross Recap - Hangtown

From SoCal to NorCal we go in Pro Motocross, with some high heat and dry conditions meeting this group of riders at the famed Hangtown circuit just outside of Sacramento. A venue that had long served as the season opener for this AMA National Championship has been in flux on the calendar as of late but has since been second in the batting order these last two seasons. Last time out here the Lawrence Brothers had good outings, both finishing on the 250 podium, and now a year later, both came into the weekend leading the two points championships after leaving Fox Raceway in Pala victorious. But outside of the Lawrence Brothers taking hold of both red plates a round in, we got some massive news in the 450 class just days before gate drop.

Chase Sexton Injury

What I'm simply just coming to terms with as we've officially hit June is that we can't have anything nice in this sport in 2023. The news came down late on Thursday but indeed Chase Sexton, who went down hard in qualifying at Pala, and now again earlier this week was not at Hangtown. Just another massive, massive blow to this 450 Class that is already down Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, and for the time being Jason Anderson, Justin Barcia, and both Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing riders. Doesnt sound like this will be a long-term issue for Sexton, but here's what he had to say.

Daytime Program/Injury Notes:

- Not a fan of the new track configuration with shortening things up.

- 250 Fastest Qualifier: No. 32 Justin Cooper (2:06.947) (Was nearly 1.5 seconds faster in Q2 than he was in Q1)

- 450 Fastest Qualifier: No. 18 Jett Lawrence (2:06.287) (Was two seconds faster than anyone else)

250 Class Recap

1st - No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (Honda HRC) (3-1)

An almost identical weekend for Lawrence two weeks in a row outside of losing out on fastest qualifier honors this go around. Wasnt much of a factor in that first Moto after a start in seventh, but lead all but two laps in Moto 2 after starting in the runner-up spot. Somewhat of an obvious point to make here, but if Haiden Deegan is going to figure out how to string two Motos together after what he did on Saturday, Lawrence has to be more consistent off the gate drop in these opening Motos. So far he's started 10th and 7th in Moto 1, but 1st and 2nd in Moto 2. That has real potential to bite him down the road, but for now, he's been cash money when it's mattered to most so you take the good from that and move on to Thunder Valley.

2nd - No. 32 Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (2-2)

Another solid points day for JCoop, but coming away with no Moto wins after the starts he had must be a gut punch. Especially after he had to hear Haiden Deegan say he was trying to "break him" down the stretch in that first Moto. The good news is that he and the rest of the Star Yamaha guys got metal start grates on the practice track this week for the first time and that clearly showed off in both he and Deegan's starts.

3rd - No. 238 Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (1-4)

Three Motos is all it took for Deegan to pick up career Moto win No. 1, and it was a wire-to-wire masterclass at that. Not a single rider on that gate had a single answer for him that entire race, and the scary thing is that Deegan ran times under 2:11.000 in five of the last seven laps in that opening tilt. Definitely would have liked a better outcome in Moto 2, but this was another great day for Deegan, who's comfortably in the title hunt at this juncture.

6th - No. 30 Jo Shimoda (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki) (4-10)

It ended up being a better day for Shimoda than what that second Moto result shows. He was just in the absolute worst spot possible after Deegan got into a lapper on the exit of the off-camber corner. Had that not happened, he was well on pace to get by both him and Jalek Swoll and end up in fifth, and from there who knows where he would have ended up. Just some bad luck for the Kawasaki rider so far this summer.

9th - No. 38 Jalek Swoll (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) (9-11)

Since no one got hurt we can laugh about this, I don't make the rules.

16th - No. 6 Jeremy Martin (Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha) (13-39)

Safe to say we're not going to be seeing JMart anytime soon. Not going to show the replay of the injury here, but Martin's left wrist is believed to be broken and it was not a pretty-looking incident in that second corner. That especially hurts after the great work Martin put in to scratch and claw up to 13th in the first Moto.

250 Class Hangtown Top 10

1st No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (3-1)

2nd No. 32 Justin Cooper (2-2)

3rd No. 238 Haiden Deegan (1-4)

4th No. 128 Tom Vialle (7-3)

5th No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (5-5)

6th No. 30 Jo Shimoda (4-10)

7th No. 88 Guillem Farres (6-8)

8th No. 43 Levi Kitchen (10-7)

9th No. 38 Jalek Swoll (9-11)

10th No. 75 Ryder DiFrancesco (8-13)

250 Class Points After Hangtown

1st No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (90 Points)

2nd No. 238 Haiden Deegan (80 Points)

3rd No. 32 Justin Cooper (78 Points)

4th No. 128 Tom Vialle (68 Points)

5th No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (67 Points)

6th No. 30 Jo Shimoda (62 Points)

7th No. 88 Guillem Farres (57 Points)

8th No. 34 Max Vohland (53 Points)

9th No. 43 Levi Kitchen (50 Points)

10th No. 75 Ryder DiFrancesco (41 Points)

450 Class Recap

1st - No. 18 Jett Lawrence (Honda HRC) (1-1)

I'm going to say it, Jett Lawrence is good, someone has to, so it may as well be me. He was only not leading things at Hangtown for what was maybe 35 seconds of real-time if I had to guess. Outside of that, he was completely dialed in for the second week in a row. Now that he has a 54-point gap to Chase Sexton and an 18-point gap to second-place Dylan Ferrandis, things could not be starting better in Lawrence's 450 rookie campaign. Far from over still, but he's made short work of things early.

3rd - No. 2 Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM) (4-2)

Was a big fan of how Webb looked on Saturday all things considered. He was probably the fourth-best guy in the class on the whole, but the way he was able to hold Dylan Ferrandis at bay in that second Moto was incredible stuff. Haven't been able to say I've been impressed with a Webb MX outing in quite a while and I can safely say that changed this weekend, so hopefully he can build on this before the first by week of the season.

4th - No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM) (3-6)

Much like Shimoda in the 250s, Plessinger was also better than what he ultimately got. Unfortunately, a freak issue where he lost the clutch lever on a fall in turn one, paired with a severe issue trying to get the bike restarted derailed what had been an excellent Moto 2 to that point. A little before the clutch/electric issues popped up, there was a three-lap stretch where AP was notably faster than Lawrence before the Australian threw down the gauntlet to end the day. Also, Plessinger didn't seem too thrilled about the track conditions in that opening Moto and went out of his way to mention that in his podium interview, which I can't say if he's done anything like that before.

6th - No. 81 Ty Masterpool (Sports Clips/Beachview Treatment/Airline Vacuum Kawasaki) (7-7)

If for nothing else it was an eventful first day on the 450 for Masterpool, having to dig out of starts of 22nd and 11th to end up with a 7-7. His raw pace has never been a question, and now that we know he can certainly dig himself out of a bad start, that makes him a very interesting guy to watch the rest of the season, even as names like Jason Anderson, Justin Barcia, and others near a return soon. I wouldn't be stunned at all if Masterpool just ends up being a 7th-10th place-ish guy for the rest of this summer if he can stay upright.

450 Class Hangtown Top 10

1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (1-1)

2nd No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (2-3)

3rd No. 2 Cooper Webb (4-2)

4th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (3-6)

5th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (5-4)

6th No. 81 Ty Masterpool (7-7)

7th No. 53 Derek Drake (8-8)

8th No. 93 Jerry Robin (10-9)

9th No. 103 Lorenzo Locurcio (9-11)

10th No. 107 Jose Butron (16-5)

450 Class Points After Hangtown

1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (100 Points)

2nd No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (82 Points)

3rd No. 2 Cooper Webb (74 Points)

4th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (69 Points) (Nice)

5th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (63 Points)

6th No. 103 Lorenzo Locurcio (46 Points)

7th No. 107 Jose Butron (45 Points)

8th No. 23 Chase Sexton (44 Points)

9th No. 93 Jerry Robin (43 Points)

10th No. 47 Freddie Noren (41 Points)

Hangtown PulpMX Industry Idiots Fantasy Team

450 Class: Jett Lawrence (All-Star, No Handicap), Ty Masterpool (+5), Freddie Noren (+4), Chiz (+4)

250 Class: Jo Shimoda (All-Star +1), Jett Reynolds (+7), Preston Kilroy (+15), Jeremy Martin (+3)

FFL: Justin Cooper and Jett Lawrence (Both Successful)

Points Total: 384

Next Up: Thunder Valley (Lakewood, Colorado)

On a last note, best wishes to Seven-Time Lucas Oil Off Road/Champ Off Road Pro 4 Class Champion Kyle LeDuc, whose taking this entire year off after revealing he's been dealing with cancer since last November. Also, have his dad Curt and brother Todd in our thoughts.

Main Image via Honda HRC


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