・Sexton closes in on points lead with second-place finish in 450SX
・Colt Nichols posts 11th-place finish in premier class
・Chance Hymas eighth in 250SX East for second week in a row
At his home race, Hunter Lawrence rode to his second 250SX East division victory in two rounds, but this one was completely different from last week’s. Whereas he had led all but two laps in Houston, the Tampa Supercross saw him ride through the pack on a wet, slippery track that rewarded deft bike-handling skills, making a last-second pass for a thrilling win. In the 450SX class, Chase Sexton posted his fourth podium finish in five rounds, finishing second and reducing his points gap on Eli Tomac to just two.
Lawrence suffered a poor start in the 250SX East main event and nearly went down in turn 1, putting him in sixth at the end of the first lap. The Australian took fifth from Jeremy Martin on the next lap, then moved by Haiden Deegan in the sand on lap 4. He dogged Michael Mosiman until making a hard pass on lap 9, and he passed Max Anstie for second in the same corner two laps later. At that point, Lawrence was six seconds down on Nate Thrasher, and with eight laps remaining, he began eating into the advantage, finally reaching the leader’s rear fender on the last lap. The two made contact twice, with Lawrence finally executing the pass in the final corner and crossing the finish line with a margin of just .134 seconds—the closest 250SX main-event finish in eight years. Anstie finished on the podium for the second week in a row, and his teammate Chance Hymas recovered from 11th on lap 1 to finish eighth.
Despite a poor jump out of the gate in the 450 main event, Sexton exited turn 1 with the lead on his CRF450RWE. Cooper Webb began hunting him from second, but Sexton rode strong through lapped traffic until making a mistake in the whoops and falling with four laps remaining. The Illinois native remounted in time to take second, which was good enough to close the gap on points-leader Eli Tomac to just two points. Sexton’s teammate Colt Nichols finished lap 1 in 11th, and after some back-and-forth battling, he ended the race in the same position.
After staying in California for the early part of the season, Chase Sexton and the Lawrence brothers are now based back home in Florida. In fact, Hunter Lawrence didn’t even book a hotel room for the Tampa round, instead opting to make the 25-mile drive from his home in Wesley Chapel. Sexton lives about 75 miles away in Clermont.
On Friday, Hunter Lawrence and Chance Hymas took part in media-day activities, getting an opportunity to check out the track on their CRF250R race machines.
Lawrence gave on-camera interviews for Race Day Live and the television pre-race show. His brother Jett—taking advantage of the 250SX West series break—also made a guest appearance on Race Day Live.
With Tampa hosting Military Appreciation Night, the Team Honda HRC machines sported black Cycra bodywork and special Throttle Jockey graphics that were a tribute to the legendary SR-71 Blackbird—a retired reconnaissance aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force and NASA. First flown in 1964, the SR-71 was capable of Mach 3+ and still holds the record for the fastest and highest-flying air-breathing manned aircraft (operated at an altitude of 85,000 feet).
In addition, Sexton’s blue-and-yellow Alpinestars gear was a tribute to the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight-demonstration squadron.
Much of race day featured dry weather, but rain began falling during 250SX heat races, making for a slick surface. The rain stopped, only to start again during the 250SX main event and linger into the 450SX main event.
For the fourth time in five rounds, Sexton was the fastest qualifier in the 450SX class (he was second-best in San Diego). Fire Power Honda’s Dean Wilson was 12th-fastest, and Nichols had the 15th-best time. Lawrence was the only 250 rider to dip into the 49-second range in qualifying, with his teammate Hymas fifth-best. Also impressive was Fire Power Honda’s Max Anstie in third. Phoenix Racing Honda’s Cullin Park was 10th on the time sheets.
Hymas notched an impressive second-place finish in the Honda-heavy second 250SX East heat race, in which six of the nine riders to advance were CRF250R-mounted. Lawrence recovered from a poor start to finish fourth, ahead of Anstie, Phoenix Racing Honda’s Jace Owen and TiLube Honda’s Henry Miller, with Phoenix Racing Honda’s Caden Braswell ninth. TiLube Honda’s Michael Hicks and Phoenix Racing Honda’s Coty Schock advanced from the first heat, finishing fourth and sixth, respectively. Red Research Group’s Luke Neese advanced to the main via the last-chance qualifier.
Sexton grabbed the 450SX heat 2 holeshot and pulled away to win by nearly eight seconds, while Nichols rode to a seventh-place result. Advancing from the first heat race was Fire Power Honda’s Dean Wilson.
Once again, the fastest laps in both main events were posted by Team Honda HRC riders Sexton and Lawrence, in 450SX and 250SX East, respectively.
Honda is the only manufacturer to have won a main event at every round of the season so far. Jett Lawrence was victorious at the first two 250SX West races, Chase Sexton topped the third 450SX round, and Hunter Lawrence won the first two 250SX East events.
With his victory, Lawrence joined Mike Kiedrowski and Jeromy Buehl as Honda-mounted riders to top the support class in Tampa. It was the seventh 250SX win of Lawrence’s career. Sexton’s result was his 15th premier-class podium finish.
Sexton and Lawrence both took part in the post-race press conference.
Honda riders hold down the top two positions in the 250SX East title chase, with Lawrence eight points ahead of Anstie. Hymas is eighth. In the 450SX ranks, Sexton is second, just two down on Eli Tomac, and Nichols advanced a spot to 10th.
Next up, AMA Supercross returns to the 250SX West region for the delayed Oakland round, to take place on February 18.
250SX East Standings
|1||Hunter Lawrence||96||Team Honda HRC||Honda||52|
|2||Max Anstie||63||Fire Power Honda||Honda||44|
|3||Haiden Deegan||238||Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing||Honda||38|
|4||Jeremy Martin||6||Muc-Off FXR ClubMX||Yamaha||36|
|5||Tom Vialle||128||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||33|
|6||Michael Mosiman||31||Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing||GasGas||33|
|8||Chance Hymas||832||Team Honda HRC||Honda||30|
|10||Jace Owen||62||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||23|
|12||Coty Schock||285||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||23|
|14||Henry Miller||66||Ti-Lube, Storm Lake Honda, Innovation Concrete Inc, Rangeline||Honda||19|
|16||Cullin Park||67||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||14|
|17||Caden Braswell||243||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||11|
|19||Luke Neese||125||Red Research Group, Honda of Lynchburg||Honda||10|
|21||Jeremy Hand||91||Valley Ford Truck, Dean Hushon Insulation, Wiseco, SKDA, 6D||Honda||5|
|22||Michael Hicks||460||TDMX Graphics||Honda||5|
|25||A J Catanzaro||330||The Moto Academy, Honda||Honda||1|