Once more, Eli Tomac and Chase Sexton split motos in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Round 11 at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Ind. and kept the championship battle within a single point. Tomac holds the slim advantage as Sexton was awarded the overall win of this round with a tiebreaker.
Before the round began, it would have seemed Tomac had the advantage. He entered the weekend as the defending winner of the last three races on this track while Sexton had one on podium finish in his career.
And by winning Moto 1, Tomac held that advantage. Both riders got off to modest starts with Tomac running sixth at the end of Lap 1 and Sexton 10th. Tomac made his way through the field better in the early stages and was third at the five-minute mark with Sexton running eighth at the time. But as Tomac caught Sexton’s teammate Ken Roczen, the Honda rider was difficult to pass, allowing Sexton to close the gap.
Tomac led Moto 1 with 18 minutes remaining on the 30-minute plus two lap clock – but Sexton was two seconds behind and closing fast. For several laps, the two title contenders battled until Tomac stood his bike up in a turn and lost momentum. Sexton raced past Tomac, but that lit a fire under the championship leader. He got back around Sexton and found another gear that allowed him to open a four-second gap in the final two laps. The points’ lead stood momentarily at four.
“It was an all or nothing situation,” Tomac told MavTV’s Jason Thomas after winning the moto. “That’s what we’re in right now. That’s where I had to dig and that was it. We both passed each other in that same turn.”
Moto 2 was a different story. Sexton earned the holeshot before being passed by Roczen. Knowing the stakes, Sexton and Roczen settled their battle quickly as Tomac charge from fifth on Lap 1 to battle Roczen at the 10-minute mark. Once again, Roczen proved to be hard to pass, giving Sexton a five-second lead. Tomac was able to cut the deficit to less than two seconds, but a mistake that almost caused him to crash in the final minutes of the race dropped him from contention.
“I got out front finally.” Sexton said from the top of the podium. “I’ve been wanting one of those for a while and I just tried to sprint away as soon as I could. Got a good gap, and then got into lappers and made a few mistakes and then Eli closed up on me and I knew it was going to be a hard race.
“It’s going to be a fun race next weekend. We have one point between us. Hopefully we’ll give the fans a good race.”
The day ended as it started and that one-point differential heading into the season finale at Fox Raceway makes this the closest battle in the series’ history. That track has been kinder to Sexton in the past and he won the season-opener there in May, but neither championship contender has been willing to give up any ground in the chase. Round 12 has shaped up to be a head-to-head battle between two riders who have dominated the season.
“I made a big push [before my mistake] and felt like [Sexton] got stuck behind a few lappers,” Tomac said. “And I tried to attack. I could see it and then obviously in the middle of the track, down over the lens, inside single, I went a little too fast, tried a little too hard and got cross-rutted.
“Overall, happy with the day. Happy to break even here.”
On what he considers his home track, Aaron Plessinger finished third behind the championship leaders in both motos to easily take the final position on the podium.
With a 6-4, last week’s winner Jason Anderson took fourth place in the overall.
Christian Craig (5-5) rounded out the top five.
450 results (moto finish)
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-1)
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (1-2)
Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (3-3)
Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (6-4)
Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (5-5)
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (4-7)
Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (7-6)
Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla, Husqvarna (11-8)
Fredrik Noren, Sweden, KTM (9-10)
Dean Wilson, Scotland, Husqvarna, (13-9)
450 points standings
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha – 496
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 495
Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 402
Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 373
Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha – 335
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plain, Minn., KTM – 332
Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 294
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas – 272
Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 218
Shane McElrath, Cantaon, NC, Husqvarna – 197
Jett Lawrence had a chance to wrap up the 250 championship with one round remaining and with a massive lead entering Pro Motocross Round 11, he did not feel the same pressure as Sexton. He refused to rush his way through Moto 1 after starting sixth, but that was good enough for the moment as his two closest rivals, Jo Shimoda rode 14th and Hunter Lawrence was 11th.
All three came through the pack with Jett finding the lead halfway through the moto. He hung on to win that race ahead of RJ Hampshire, who earned his third straight podium.
“I heard you guys talking about how [450s] could go to the last round, so I’m like, you know what, I’ll do the boys a favor and I’ll just come out with a nice third-place [in Moto 2],” Jett said afterward.
The 1-3 finish was enough to award Jett the overall win with Hunter (3-2) in second. Shimoda scored a 5-1 to take the final spot on the podium.
Hunter finished third in Moto 1, but was docked two points for jumping in a section of the track that was under caution.
Meanwhile, Shimoda kept the pressure on by climbing into the top five in a fierce battle with Hunter. He was unable to follow his close friend when a rut broke apart under his bike and sent him to the ground. Shimoda held on to finish fifth and keep his title fight alive.
Shimoda was even better in the second moto. He earned the holeshot and lead the entire distance to win Moto 2 while Jett started the race 12th, eight seconds behind. Jett did what Jett does and picked his way through the field, but he lost a few points in the process and heads to the season finale at Fox Raceway with a 41-point advantage.
“Starts,” Shimoda said. “First moto, not good at all and then second moto an okay start. Just kept charging and took the win.”
Hampshire failed to keep his podium streak alive and finished fourth in Moto 2. He was fourth overall.
Nate Thrasher rounded out the top five with a 4-6.
The future of the 250 class showcased a battle between Ryder DiFrancesco and Haiden Deegan, who was making his pro debut.
The two raced nose-to-tail just outside the top 10 until Deegan found a second wind and put a gap on his rival. With two minutes remaining, Deegan crashed hard enough to damage his bike. He would crash again on the first lap of Moto 2 and failed to earn points in the round, but the strong runs by both riders in Moto 1 suggest this will be an interesting rivalry.
250 results (moto finish)
Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-3)
Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-2)
Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (5-1)
RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (2-4)
Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (4-6)
Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Yamaha (6-5)
Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM (7-7)
Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., KTM (11-8)
Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki (10-9)
Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Penn., Kawasaki (12-10)
250 points standings
Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 478
Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 437
Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 432
Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY – 377
RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 314
Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 279
Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha – 231
Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Penn., Kawasaki – 227
Michael Mosiman, Sebastapol, Calif., GasGas – 208
Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha – 193
Round 1, Fox Raceway: Chase Sexton takes early lead in the championship hunt
Round 2, Hangtown: After 12 years of trying, Jason Anderson wins a Motocross race
Round 3, Thunder Valley: Three races, three winners as Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Round 4, High Point: Now four-for-four, Eli Tomac takes the trophy
Round 5, RedBud: Tomac becomes first in 2022 with two wins; Hunter Lawrence takes red plate in 250s
Round 6, Southwick: Tomac’s domination continues with a second perfect round
Round 7, Spring Creek: Tomac takes points’ lead with another 1-1 day
Round 8, Washougal: Sexton brackets the first eight weeks with second win
Round 9, Unadilla: Sexton retakes points’ lead by one with back-to-back wins
Round 10, Budds Creek: Anderson wins as points lead swaps for third time in four weeks
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