Honda’s Chase Sexton took his fifth win of the year at a significant 16th round of 17 in the AMA Supercross Championships season in Colorado at the weekend.
And while it was possibly gifted the 450cc title to Sexton, thanks to the misfortune that struck series leader Eli Tomac, young Australian Jett Lawrence did it all on his own as he wrapped up the 2023 250cc West Championship.
Tomac suffered a likely season-ending injury at the weekend, leaving Sexton as the 2023 champion, provided Tomac cannot line up at the final round next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Ken Roczen took second place in the premier 450cc class with an incredible charge from the back of the pack inside Empower Field at the “Mile High City”.
And Adam Cianciarulo earned his first podium finish since round three of 2021.
In the Western Regional 250SX class, RJ Hampshire earned his first win of 2023 with his own thrilling charge. Lawrence took a hard-fought third in the main event to win the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship.
Cianciarulo grabbed the holeshot ahead of Shane McElrath, Tomac, and Justin Hill.
Roczen, on a recent podium streak, slid out in the first corner and started the race in dead last position while his team-mate McElrath leapt into the lead down the first rhythm section. Within three corners Tomac had moved into second, then took over the top spot before reaching the green flag.
With his hometown race fans going wild, and with Sexton back in sixth, it looked possible that Tomac could earn enough points to wrap up his third national supercross title.
But supercross is one of the toughest sports on the planet, and that fact became apparent as it took over the night, and the title chase, just two and half minutes into the race.
While leading, Tomac stressed his left ankle on a jump take-off. He didn’t crash but instantly lifted his foot from the peg while airborne.
After landing he quickly brought down his bike’s speed to roll the rest of the section. He immediately pulled off the track, holding his left ankle away from the bike, then rode instantly to the on-site Alpinestars Medical Rig.
Before the race had ended the news was out: Eli Tomac had suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and was out for the season.
Inside the stadium, Cianciarulo held the lead over Sexton. Five minutes into the 20-minute plus one lap race Sexton took over the lead.
By then Roczen had already made his way up to sixth place. Sexton steadily pulled clear of Cianciarulo while Roczen continued his charge, passing McElrath for third just eight and a half minutes into the race and gaining on Cianciarulo.
With 8:15 on the race clock, Justin Hill took over fourth. Three and a half minutes after that Roczen was up to Cianciarulo and pressuring for the second place spot.
Roczen quickly made his move and looked ahead 6.8 seconds to the leader. Roczen started to gain a little time on Sexton, but not at the rate he’d need to make a run at the win.
Interestingly, in a season that saw Sexton give up some big leads with unforced errors, the Honda rider remained composed and smooth.
With the full pressure of the race and the title on him, he rode like a champion. Sexton took his fifth win of 2023 and with it jumped into the points lead by seven.
If the early injury assessment of Tomac is accurate and he’s truly out for the season, Sexton is mathematically the champion once Tomac officially does not show up and qualify for the final race.
When the gate dropped for the Western Regional 250SX class main event, Max Vohland jumped out ahead of Enzo Lopes, Levi Kitchen, Carson Mumford and RJ Hampshire. Lawrence, after a difficult heat race, was back in tenth as the riders crossed the holeshot stripe. Just over two minutes into the 15-minute plus one lap race Kitchen had taken over the lead and Hampshire was up to second.
Further back in eighth, Lawrence was carefully picking off riders but showed no panic – he needed only to finish in tenth or better to take the title with one round remaining in the 250SX class.
Five and a half minutes into the race Lopes moved past Vohland to take over third position. The riders made contact in a tight corner, and Vohland tipped over.
Lawrence seemed to benefit from the chaos and soon got into fourth place. As the race clock ticked down under eight minutes Lawrence overtook Lopes for third place but was over 12 seconds back from the leaders.
Hampshire used the race’s midpoint to make a drive on Kitchen for the lead. The Husqvarna rider closed in, then leaped past when Kitchen made a small mistake in a short rhythm section.
Kitchen recovered and retaliated immediately. Kitchen got back the spot as Hampshire went wide then shorted the track’s big double jump. Hampshire was off the track, but he kept his bike upright.
Over the closing laps Hampshire put in a heroic charge. He was the fastest rider on the track and quickly made up the five seconds his off-track excursion had cost him. With 40 seconds on the clock, Hampshire blitzed the whoops and took the lead from Kitchen.
Kitchen had one last surge of speed on the final lap, but never got into position to make a pass attempt. Hampshire took the chequered flag and the Denver Supercross win. Kitchen was right behind in second, and Lawrence brought his Honda home in third to win the division title with one race – an East/West Showdown – left on the schedule.
Now the series moves to Salt Lake City next weekend for the final round.
450SX Class Results:
1 Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda
2 Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki
3 Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki
4 Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., KTM
5 Shane McElrath, Oakland, Fla., Suzuki
6 Dean Wilson, Menifee, Calif., Honda
7 Josh Hill, Huntersville, N.C., KTM
8 Kyle Chisholm, Valrico, Fla., Suzuki
9 Grant Harlan, Decatur, Tex., Yamaha
10 Justin Starling, Riverview, Fla., GASGAS
450SX Class Championship Standings:
1 Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda (346)
2 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (339)
3 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (304)
4 Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki (303)
5 Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (267)
6 Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki (242)
7 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (213)
8 Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (191)
9 Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., KTM (191)
10 Dean Wilson, Menifee, Calif., Honda (182)
Western Regional 250SX Class Results:
1 RJ Hampshire, Minneola, Fla., Husqvarna
2 Levi Kitchen, Havana, Fla., Yamaha
3 Jett Lawrence, Zephyrhills, Fla., Honda
4 Enzo Lopes, Chesterfield, S.C., Yamaha
5 Mitchell Oldenburg, Godley, Tex., Honda
6 Max Vohland, Granite Bay, Calif., KTM
7 Derek Kelley, Riverside, Calif., KTM
8 Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Kawasaki
9 Cole Thompson, Brigden, Ont., Yamaha
10 Robbie Wageman, Newhall, Calif., Suzuki
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings:
1 Jett Lawrence, Zephyrhills, Fla., Honda (197)
2 RJ Hampshire, Minneola, Fla., Husqvarna (163)
3 Enzo Lopes, Chesterfield, S.C., Yamaha (137)
4 Levi Kitchen, Havana, Fla., Yamaha (135)
5 Max Vohland, Granite Bay, Calif., KTM (121)
6 Mitchell Oldenburg, Godley, Tex., Honda (117)
7 Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki (101)
8 Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS (98)
9 Cole Thompson, Brigden, Ont., Yamaha (87)
10 Derek Kelley, Riverside, Calif., KTM (86)
Photo courtesy Honda
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