Just two weeks after a historic sweep of all three 2023 AMA Supercross classes, Team Honda HRC is in Pala, California, ready to commence the AMA Pro Motocross series at Fox Raceway, a track where they have enjoyed much success in recent years.
Today the team’s riders and crew participated in a pre-season press conference at Pala Casino Spa Resort, followed by riding sessions at the track where they will race on Saturday.
The team has reason for optimism as they prepare to make the transition from stadium racing to “outdoors” competition. Still just 23, Chase Sexton is fresh off winning the AMA Supercross premier-class championship, and last year saw him finish second in a historically close AMA Pro Motocross 450 title fight with Eli Tomac, who is out with an injury.
“I flew home from Salt Lake on Sunday, and then it was back to outdoor testing on Tuesday,” Sexton said in today’s press conference. “I honestly think it’s made me more motivated to come out here and win. I don’t feel like I have that lack of motivation right now. The first week back, I tested three days and put over seven hours on my bike. It’s right back to work and looking forward to racing this 450 championship.”
Making a highly anticipated AMA 450 class debut is Jett Lawrence. The 19-year-old Australian concluded an extremely successful 250 career at the AMA Supercross finale in Salt Lake City, and with four quarter-liter titles under his belt, he’s eager to pursue success on the factory Honda CRF450RWE. Jett has campaigned the bike on one previous occasion, winning the Open class at the Motocross of Nations in Michigan last September.
“Obviously, it’s very exciting for me,” Jett Lawrence said. “It’s kind of like starting from the bottom again and see where I end up in the first round. I was lucky that I was racing [Supercross] on the West Coast, so I got to do quite a bit of 450 testing during the breaks when the East Coast guys were going. We’re feeling good. We’ve been pretty lucky at this track, and I’m just excited to start this new chapter in my life. It’s going to be fun to learn off some of these older guys.”
Team Honda HRC’s 250 class effort is being spearheaded by Hunter Lawrence, who many pundits are favoring to take this year’s title. The 23-year-old battled his brother and teammate Jett Lawrence in last year’s championship fight before finishing third, and he recently won the AMA 250SX East Region crown.
“We balanced [our preparation] pretty good,” Hunter Lawrence said. “Hopefully it shows in the first few rounds. It’s obviously tough when you go from being so heavily into Supercross, and then you’ve got one weekend off to really fully switch over. It’s a happy-medium balance, so hopefully we did it well. I’m looking forward to a good summer.”
Also campaigning a CRF250R will be Chance Hymas. The Idaho native, who celebrates his 18th birthday today, made his professional debut at this track last year but has only campaigned selected rounds since then. Starting Saturday, Hymas will compete fulltime.
“I’m excited to get the first round going,” Hymas said. “I haven’t raced a lot this year, so I want to go racing again. I’ve been doing a lot of practicing, but I’m ready to put the work to the test and see how it goes.”
This season finds Honda marking the 50th anniversary of its first production motocross bike, the CR250M Elsinore, which Gary Jones rode to Honda’s first AMA Motocross Championship in 1973.