The beginning of a new era was ushered in Saturday with the completion of the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship and the crowning of two rising stars at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Jett Lawrence won the 450 title and Haiden Deegan was victorious in 250s. Both riders just completed their rookie campaigns in Pro Motocross before embarking on this championship quest.
Lawrence was not certain what to expect Saturday night. The track layout at the Los Angeles Coliseum more closely resembled Supercross than any of the courses he has visited since ascending to the 450 class and that fact was not lost on him. Lawrence had never raced the current frontrunners of this class in SX, but it didn't take long for him to figure out the challenge. After winning his first SuperMotocross moto last week at Chicagoland Speedway, he led most of the laps of the second race until he slowed to do math in his head and allowed Ken Roczen to close in Moto 2.
Lawrence won Moto 1 at Los Angeles and controlled his fate in the second race. Even while Chase Sexton led most of that moto, Lawrence was in position to win the overall because Sexton was third in the first race. In fact, his chances at victory were hurt once Sexton crashed because a pass by Roczen would then put him in position to win. Had Roczen simply passed Lawrence for second, he would not have enough points. Still, the record books will show that Lawrence swept the LA Coliseum and claimed the $1 million prize that went along with the championship.
Roczen menaced Lawrence through both motos. He finished second in the first race which also meant he went into Moto 2 with control. Should he have won the second race, he would have had the tiebreaker for the overall. Roczen led two laps of the second race after taking the top spot from Jason Anderson on Lap 6 but he was slow to attempt the triple needed on one of the long rhythm sections and Lawrence made a daring pass that Roczen would later regret.
In his third race after being reunited with Star Racing Yamaha, Cooper Webb scored his first podium finish with the team after finishing fifth in Moto 1 and third in Moto 2. Webb was sidelined late in the Supercross season and made the decision to abbreviate his Motocross campaign. He nevertheless ended the year on a high note with his fourth-place ranking in SuperMotocross points.
Adam Cianciarulo finished fourth overall after finishing seventh in Moto 1 and fourth in the second race. The highlight of his weekend was the holeshot earned in Moto 1 before getting passed by Anderson one lap later.
Rounding out the top five was Colt Nichols with an 8-5. Nichols will join the Beta Motorcycle team next year when they debut in the SuperMotocross season and he's giving them a little momentum for the inaugural campaign.
Sexton's bid for the championship evaporated on Lap 9 of Moto 2. Carrying too much speed down the peristyle, he jumped awkwardly in the sand section and crashed hard. The crash almost collected Lawrence who was forced to change his line abruptly and might have radically altered the finish of the season for multiple riders. Sexton had enough of a points' gap over fourth to remain third in the championship, but he was relegated to 10th in his final overall with the Honda HRC team.
The 250 championship was billed as a winner-take-all affair and ultimately that was true. There was a caveat, however, as none of the three most-likely contenders won a moto and none of the moto winners managed to finish on the podium in the Olympic-style format.
Haiden Deegan scored the overall victory with a fifth in the first race and a second in Moto 2. Showing more maturity than many believed the rookie capable, Deegan balanced his aggressive 'send it' mentality with patience. To override any section on the track could have meant a crash so Deegan stayed within his limitations, which is not something that happened in every Supercross or Motocross race.
As to why he didn't ghost ride his bike at the conclusion of the championship like his father Brian Deegan did when he won his only Supercross race? Deegan was not entirely sure he'd won the overall until after the checkered flag.
Jo Shimoda came up two points shy of the overall win and the championship after finishing fourth in both motos and securing second overall. To win the race, he needed to pass both Justin Cooper and Deegan in the final laps of Moto 2 because a tiebreaker would not have been in his favor if he and Deegan both accumulated seven points.
RJ Hampshire took the final position on the podium with a second in Moto 1 and sixth in Moto 2. Hampshire's standing in the points was hurt by his overall finish of 14th at zMax Dragway, but he ended the season on a high note with back-to-back overall top-fives.
Cooper played his role in the championship by refusing to give ground to Shimoda in the middle stage of Moto 2. He finished third in that race and seventh in the first moto to land fourth overall in the final rundown.
One has to go all the way to fifth to find a moto winner. Levi Kitchen had a disappointing first race when he finished 10th and was determined enough to get the early lead of Moto 2 that he removed most of his tear offs as an incentive to get the holeshot. The gamble paid off and he led from the gate drop to the checkers with win the second race.
As for the winner of Moto 1, Jordon Smith struggled in the second race and finished 10th to give Kitchen the tiebreaker. Smith finished sixth overall.
2023 Motocross Results
Round 11: Jett Lawrence, Jo Shimoda win
Round 10: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 9: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 8: Jett Lawrence, Haiden Deegan win
Round 7: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 6: Jett Lawrence, Tom Vialle win
Round 5: Jett Lawrence, Haiden Deegan win
Round 4: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 3: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 2: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 1: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win
2023 Supercross Results
Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Cooper Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings
Week 30: Jo Shimoda takes the lead in 250s
Week 29: Jett Lawrence’s stumble at zMax does not cost the lead
Week 28: The Lawrence Brothers wind up on top
Week 27: Hunter Lawrence reclaims 250 lead
Week 26: Jett Lawrence clinches championship
Week 25: Haiden Deegan moves up two spots
Week 24: Chase Sexton close the competitive gap
Week 23: Justin Cooper is now most powerful in 250s
Week 21: The Lawrence brothers remain perfect
Week 20: Cooper Webb moves up
Week 19: Jett Lawrence pulls away
Week 18: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top
Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Chase Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Eli Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Eli Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Chase Sexton close gap
Week 4: Eli Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Ken Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s