Sacramento, CA (May 18, 2019) – The rough and tumble world of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross National Championship was on full display at Saturday’s season opener, the Hangtown Classic, as varied weather led to a tough track and eventually full on mud conditions.
Several members of the GEICO Honda squad appeared to have podium-level speed, but it didn’t pan out in the end, as Chase Sexton ended up fifth overall with 4-6 scores, RJ Hampshire sixth with a 6-7, Christian Craig 10th with a 13-10, and Hunter Lawrence 11th with 11-12 scores.
Sexton spent most of the first race in third place until Dylan Ferrandis passed him in the final corner of the race to steal the spot. He was there again in moto two but fell early in the mud before fighting back to sixth.
“Not what I wanted, just didn’t feel super comfortable all day,” said Sexton. “The good side was that my starts were pretty good, but I definitely wish I could have stayed up there a little better. Had a quick crash in moto two and that cost me, but the conditions were pretty tough. It’s okay though, we scored good points, and we will put in the work and come out swinging for round two this weekend.”
Hampshire looked strong on the track early until a crash set him back, and then more crashes set in during the mud moto.
“Had a crash in the opening laps of that first practice which tweaked my bike up so my qualifying wasn’t that great. Got a good start first moto and then ran into some issues just before half way and it took a little bit to clear up. Also had a close call with my teammate! [Lawrence]. Ended up making a couple passes late to get sixth. I didn’t get a great start second moto but made a bunch of passes early. I caught that lead group, not the leader, but the podium guys, but I went down every time I got close. I ended up going down four times in that moto! I really wasn’t happy about that because I felt like I was riding the track well for how gnarly it was, I just made too many mistakes. Sixth overall on the day which is my best Hangtown result yet but I should be better than that!”
In moto one, Australian Hunter Lawrence, in his debut ride as a full-time U.S. racer, was near the front of the pack until he crashed, and Hampshire was right behind him with nowhere to go. Lawrence got tagged on the rear end by Hampshire’s bike, which left him cut and in pain the rest of the day. He soldiered on to hover near the top ten in the first moto, then came back out to do the same in moto two.
“It was okay, just stayed warmed up and took some pain killers to be ready for the second moto,” said Lawrence. “Tough first weekend at Hangtown, but despite the race results I’m happy with where I’m at. There were lot of positives, speed and fitness is there just my starts let me down this weekend forcing me to take a lot more risks on a track with a lot of lines but one main line. I was taking blind lines and just more risks in general, and that’s not the best thing especially when it’s muddy. Moving onto the next one. Can’t wait to go racing next weekend at Pala!”
While Sexton, Hampshire and Lawrence had some downs and ups throughout the day, Craig was happy to enjoy a low-drama return to racing after missing Monster Energy Supercross with a thumb injury.
“This year has been nothing short of a struggle for me so to just get through the day felt so good,” said Craig. “I have a way to go to get where I want to be but being able to get a top 10 overall was a good start. First practice I was far off but we changed my bike setup after and felt way better second practice. First moto was a bit of a struggle but we got through it and had a better second moto. I’m just happy to be back at the races and looking forward to improving each weekend.”
GEICO Honda Results
5. Chase Sexton
6. RJ Hampshire
10. Christian Craig
11. Hunter Lawrence