On August 31, 2008, James Stewart completed the last perfect season in AMA Pro Motocross. Nearly 15 years later, Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence entered Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana, seeking to become just the third rider in history to win every moto in a single season. Just two motos stood between Jett and the honor to put his name beside AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Ricky Carmichael (who accomplished the feat twice: 2002 and 2004) and Stewart.
Nothing would come easy for Jett at the final round. His Honda HRC teammate Chase Sexton was determined to put a win on the board. It was the Honda duo out front early in the first moto, with Jett looking to break away from Sexton. By lap 10 (of 19) he managed to push the gap to just over five seconds and was able to maintain the lead till the finish, leading all 19 laps in the process.
The second moto holeshot went to Dylan Ferrandis but the Frenchmen crashed out of the lead on the opening lap which allowed Jett to take the top spot. This time, Sexton didn’t allow him to get away. Jett opened a four second lead briefly, but Sexton quickly cut it down to two seconds late in the moto. Despite the pressure from Sexton, Jett managed the race and led all 19 laps for the second time on the day en route to a 1.7 second win and a perfect season.
“I was so pumped,” said Jett. “From where I came from, and the biggest thing I kept on saying, and I know my manager, Lucas [Mirtl], says it, my dad says it, is we shouldn’t be here. The way we were living in Australia and how we were struggling there enough, the pathway for us to be where we are and undefeated in our rookie season 450 championship, there was no pathway for that for us. Let alone winning a 250 championship. There was no pathway for us. So, to do what we’ve done and make history and be up there with Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, to be with those guys, it means the world. Because they’re such a household name in our sport. If you bring up motocross, you can think of James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, all those guys. They’re household names. So to be up with those guys is an unreal accomplishment. I was nervous as hell, but thankfully I was able to do it.”
Sexton would finish 2-2 on the day to capture second overall ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Aaron Plessinger who ended the Pro Motocross season on the podium behind 5-3 motos.
"I’m pumped to finish this season’s outdoor championship on the box!” said Plessinger. “We experienced a few ups and downs this year, which is all part of racing, although we continued to fight and ended up with P3 overall in the championship. My first motos remained the difficult part of the day, which was the same deal today, although we rebounded well in moto two for third place. Onto the SMX playoffs now, I’m stoked and intrigued to see what the tracks will be like, and excited to take the sport to all-new venues also."
Entering 2023, a pair of siblings had never won AMA Pro Motocross championships in the same year. At Ironman, we had a chance at more history, as Jett’s older brother and Honda HRC teammate Hunter had a chance to clinch his first career 250 title. Hunter entered the day with a 22-point lead in the championship over Justin Cooper and had to a chance to wrap up the title in the first moto if he were to gain three points on the Yamaha rider.
When the gates dropped, the championship was essentially over as Cooper was one of a handful of riders collected together in a turn two pileup. Hunter was just behind the pileup and was able to escape the carnage. Out front it was Ryder DiFrancesco out to the early lead over Red Bull KTM’s Tom Vialle and Jo Shimoda. With Cooper buried in the field, Hunter was on cruise control as the leaders quickly separated themselves from the field.
While Cooper was able to come back to 13th, a fifth from Hunter would officially end the championship battle, as he gained eight points on Cooper in the first moto, widening his gap 30 points with only 25 available.
“I saw the chaos in the second turn,” said Hunter. “I saw blue bikes and then the No. 32 and thought, ‘That sucks.’ I was way, way back, trying to be patient and trying not to rush anything. Man, what a year. Never say die, never give up. It’s unbelievable. So honored to thank the team with five championships, and the year’s not done.”
With the championship wrapped up, Hunter cruised to a ninth in the second moto to claim fifth overall on the day. Jo Shimoda went 1-1 on the day for his first overall of the year ahead of Haiden Deegan and Vialle.
"I really didn't know what to expect this year, to be honest, racing my first season of Pro Motocross,” said Vialle. “Learning how these guys race, learning the tracks at every round for the first time, and then how to set the bike up over here too. Racing Supercross in the winter and motocross through the summer, this was all new to me, so I am very happy to finish my season here at Ironman with a podium, also to get the win in Southwick, and to come out of my first full season in America healthy."
While the sport’s regular season has drawn to a close, its first ever postseason awaits. The three-round inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs begin Saturday, September 9, with Playoff 1 from Charlotte’s zMAX Dragway.
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish // Points)
- Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda (1-1 // 50)
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-2, 44)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (5-3 // 36)
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (4-4 // 36)
- Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (6-6 // 30)
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha (7-8 // 27)
- Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS (11-5 // 26)
- Dylan Wright, Canada, Honda (8-9 // 25)
- Phil Nicoletti, Cochecton, N.Y., Yamaha (12-7 // 23)
- Harri Kullas, Estonia, Yamaha (9-12 // 21)
450 Class Championship Final Standings
- Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda - 550
- Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Yamaha - 399
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM - 386
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda - 338
- Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki - 328
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha - 255
- Ty Masterpool, Fallon, Nev., Kawasaki - 242
- Fredrik Noren, Lidköping, Sweden, Suzuki - 219
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki - 207
- Grant Harlan, Justin, Texas, Yamaha - 176
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finishes // Points)
- Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki (1-1 // 50)
- Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (2-3 // 42)
- Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM (3-4 // 38)
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (13-2 // 30)
- Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda (5-9 // 28)
- Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki (9-6 // 27)
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (11-5 // 26)
- Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM (8-8 // 26)
- Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Pa., Kawasaki (6-12 // 24)
- Stilez Robertson, Bakersfield, Calif., Yamaha (12-11 // 19)
250 Class Championship Final Standings
- Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda - 419
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha - 399
- Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki - 393
- Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha - 371
- Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha - 322
- Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM - 302
- Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM - 295
- RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna - 288
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna - 221
- Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki - 208