Following a five-week pause in 250SX West Region racing, Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence put together a solid victory during AMA Supercross’s return to Seattle. It was the Australian’s first time racing in the Emerald City, as the series returned after a two-year absence.
Lawrence was back a bit off the main-event start, ending the first lap in fourth place. Lap 3 saw him get by Jo Shimoda for third and, when points-leader Christian Craig went down at the end of the same lap, Lawrence moved up to second. He then began stalking the leading Michael Mosiman, and he took over the lead in a corner on lap 8. Through the race’s latter half, Lawrence settled in and rode fast but controlled, navigating lapped traffic well and holding off his challengers to earn his second win of the season.
Unfortunately, Chase Sexton suffered a hard crash during the final 450SX qualifying session and was banged-up enough that he and the team felt it prudent for him to heal up and come back strong for the St. Louis round in two weeks.
With AMA Supercross making a one-race switch from 250SX East to West, Hunter Lawrence was back racing for the first time since February 12 at Anaheim 3, where he had suffered a hard crash that ended his race early. “I had two weeks off just to let the body heal, as I was a bit banged up,” he said. “I kept pretty busy, and we kept working on a few things to help us be better, and it was good to put them into action tonight – got a few percent better all around.”
Both Chase Sexton and Lawrence took part in Press Day activities on Friday, which meant they had an opportunity to try out the track early. Afterward, Sexton sat down for an interview with Adam Wheeler, editor of the European media outlet On-Track Off-Road.
As usual in Seattle, the pits were located inside the stadium, and with FanFest being held, spectators were able to check out the team trucks and bikes.
Team Honda HRC R&D Supervisor Ricki Rock is from the Seattle area, and his family was at the race to cheer on him and his team.
An off-and-on drizzle kept things interesting for much of the day, although serious precipitation never set in. The DirtWurx crew anticipated the situation and intentionally left the track on the dry side heading into race day. When the night program kicked off, the temperature was 59º Fahrenheit.
For the second round in a row, SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda rider Justin Brayton sat out the racing as he continued concussion protocol prompted by a qualifying crash in Indianapolis.
During daytime qualifying, Lawrence notched the fourth-best time in the 250SX West class, his 48.283” lap coming in the final session. Other Red Riders included SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda’s Vince Friese (seventh), Team BWR’s Hile McClellan (19th) and Concrete Plants’ Maxwell Sanford (29th).
Despite suffering a hard rhythm-section crash in the final 450SX qualifying session, Sexton ended up with a fifth-best time of 48.888”. Other CRF450R-mounted riders included MotoConcepts’ Mitchell Oldenburg (eighth), SGB Unlimited’s Alex Ray and Cade Clason (14th and 16th), HRT Racing’s Austin Politelli (23rd), BWR Engines’ Bryson Gardner (27th) and Jones Powersports’ John Short (31st).
Lawrence notched a solid second-place finish in the first 250SX West heat race, less than three seconds off the winner, and the second heat saw Friese put in an inspired performance to take the first heat-race win of his career. Hile also advanced straight to the main with a ninth-place Heat 2 finish.
In the first 450SX heat race, Oldenburg, Ray and Clason finished fourth, seventh and ninth, respectively; Politelli finished eighth in Heat 2, and Short topped the Last Chance Qualifier.
Lawrence participated in the post-race press conference on Saturday evening.
Lawrence’s win advanced him to second place in the 250SX West points standings. It was his second win of the season and the third 250SX victory of his career, as well as his 10th podium. Together, the Lawrence brothers have won seven of the 12 races run thus far in the two regions, and they’ve finished on the podium at 11.
With the AMA Pro Motocross series opener now on the horizon, Lawrence said his midweek work is a balance between focusing on the ongoing AMA Supercross series and mixing in some outdoors preparation. “You definitely try to do a bit of outdoors, but it’s not like we’re sweeping supercross under the carpet,” he said.
Next up is the first weekend off of the year for Team Honda HRC, to be followed by a return to the 250SX East Region for the St. Louis round on April 9.