Round number 1 and the season opener of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series headed to Pala, Ca. for 2021 Fox Raceway 1 National. The first round was dominated by the Monster Energy / Star Racing / Yamaha with the team occupying four of the six podium spots available in the two classes.

In the 450 Class, it was Star Racing / Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis (1-3) taking the win in his debut 450 national ahead of HRC / Honda’s Ken Roczen (6-1) and Star Racing / Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger. In the 250 class, HRC / Honda’s Jett Lawrence (2-1) took the win with the Star Racing / Yamaha duo of Jeremy Martin (1-2) and Justin Cooper (5-3) taking the final two steps on the 250 podium.

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After the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship opener was concluded, we gathered numerous quotes from riders talking about their first outdoor MX race of 2021.

Dylan Ferrandis: (1st in 450MX) “It was a way different Pala race than last year, but it was a really good day for me. I didn’t wake up this morning thinking that I would win the overall. It’s an amazing result as a rookie in the 450 class to win the first moto and the overall. I’m also really happy to get that first 450 win for the Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing team. I’m really hard on these guys, and I make them work many hours during the race and the whole week, so this one is really for them. The hard work has definitely paid off. I want to say a big thanks to all of the people around me. It’s an amazing feeling and a day that I will remember.”

Dylan Ferrandis got his first-ever 450MX win in his first-ever 450MX race. Photo by: Octopi

Ken Roczen: (2nd in 450MX) “I was a bit surprised, like I had no real expectations this weekend. I guess I appreciate that everybody else has such high… Not high hopes, but high expectations. Everybody always expects me to be up front and I guess that is a good thing, but nobody knows what is going on behind the scenes and how I feel about riding. Not to mention that Chase [Sexton] and I are on a new bike, so the testing side of things usually take a little bit of time as well. After the first moto and, you know, struggling a little bit… It does feel familiar at the same time as well. I just knew that there was going to be a learning curve to this whole thing and all I wanted to do is get better each weekend.  We put ourselves in in a good position in the end though and I guess it just came back to me. It felt familiar being up there and on the track, like I said, I had some really good lines. I am expecting and hoping that we will just go uphill from here.”

Aaron Plessinger: (3rd in 450MX) “It was a great day for me overall. I felt good coming into this weekend and felt like I could do some damage, and I did. I think my last outdoor moto was at the Ironman back in 2019, so to come out here and finish third after a tough two years, it’s pretty amazing. I want to thank the whole team. They do an amazing job. I love my bike right now, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m just going to come into Colorado with the same outlook and try to do It again!”

Jett Lawrence:  (1st in 250MX) “The first moto I didn’t give myself a very good chance of getting a podium at least, but I carved my way through to third and Vohland had motor trouble and I got into second. I saw Jeremy up front, and I wanted to make a little charge, but I didn’t want to overdo it and make a silly mistake. I used to send it and weed myself, but I had a good pace and closed up. In the second moto I wanted a better start, maybe top ten, and sure enough I was I think 8th and I made my way to third, and it took me a while to work out what the two Star boys were doing up front. I kind of want to get the point out there that I am so young and I am very lucky from my gift and I think a lot of people see me as somebody with talent, like James Stewart, just a kid with a lot of talent, but I want to show I ride my bike and I put in the work and I have a trainer Johnny O’Mara and JMart knows, he is a gnarly man. He still puts a whooping on us on a mountain bike. I want to show that I put the time in and can get results like this on the weekend.”

Jeremy Martin (2nd in 250MX) “I’m glad to land two strong performances in today’s motos after being away from racing for so long. The track was brutal, so I’m happy to walk away with a solid second overall finish at the season opener.”

Jeremy Martin finished 2nd overall, but he is tied with Jett Lawrence for 1st in the 250MX Championship points. Photo by: Octopi

Justin Cooper: (3rd in 250MX) “It was a good start to the outdoor series with a podium, but it was definitely a tough transition to the ‘Great Outdoors’ from supercross. We put in some solid laps and some terrible ones as well but learned a lot. We have some good stuff to build on and look to carry that into next weekend.”

Justin Barcia: (4th in 450MX) “The track was really gnarly today but my bike was working awesome. I got through practice and went into the first moto open minded and that was a really good ride for me. All-in-all, fourth overall is a super good spot to be in going into the season. It’s a long, grueling season and I definitely need to be on the podium a lot, win races and just stay consistent. I am definitely looking forward to next weekend.”

Chase Sexton: (5th in 450MX) “Round 1 at Pala for me didn’t start off the greatest. I had a rough time in practice, just finding a flow with the track and the bike. I turned it around in the first moto when I got a pretty good start. I kind of went backwards a little bit and then found my groove and charged forward. I made a good push towards the end and got close to Dylan [Ferrandis] but couldn’t quite make it happen. In the second moto I went down on the start and from there it was an uphill battle, just trying to do as much damage control as possible. I got back to 10th and am looking forward to Thunder Valley.”

Jason Anderson: (6th in 450MX) “It was not terrible day but we definitely need to keep building. In the first moto, I had a good start and tipped over while running fifth but I was able to make it back to 10th. In the second moto, I charged up the whole moto and was able to end up fourth, which was a good ride for me.”

Justin Barcia had the speed to run with leaders, but his starts hampered him. Photo by: GasGas

Marvin Musquin: (7th in 450MX) “I knew competition would be very tough and a good start would be key. I was happy with my practice, qualifying second, and felt good going into the motos. In both of my motos, my first lap was no good and I was not aggressive enough and making huge mistakes. After that, I had to fight back but it was very difficult to make passes on this track. I was battling with Tomac in both motos, so that tells you the level of competition in the top-10. I’m not super happy with the result on paper. I did a couple good things but overall, I can do better, so let’s do it again next weekend.”

Cooper Webb: (8th in 450MX) “A tough day at the office with eighth overall to start the season at Pala. It felt good to line back up outdoors and I’m looking forward to having fans back at the races this summer. We’ll build on this and come back swinging for the next 22 motos.”

Michael Mosiman: (4th in 250MX) “It was a good day. I rode really smooth and had a couple mistakes that cost me a podium but to be honest, coming out here I wasn’t really sure where I was going to be. I thought I was going to be really good but it’s comforting to have the first one out of the way and have a good result. There’s a lot to look forward to this season, so I’m really excited.”

R.J. Hampshire: (5th in 250MX) “I’m happy to be back at the races. I felt good all day. The first moto, I didn’t get a great start but we made some good passes and held onto third, which was sweet coming off injury and getting back racing. Looking at our speed and comfort this weekend, I know we have a lot to build on and we will be better.”

Hunter Lawrence: (6th in 250MX) “It was a rough weekend. To start off with two crashes in each moto wasn’t ideal, but we live and learn. I’m looking forward to next weekend, just to be able to be better and not make those mistakes. I’m happy to get the season started nonetheless. Sixth overall is a start—nothing to jump up and down about, but I’m happy to be fit and healthy.”

Hunter Lawrence was solid at the opener, but he will need to step it up if hew wants to race for wins against his little brother in ’21. Photo by: HRC

Eli Tomac: (9th in 450MX) “Overall, it was an alright day. It wasn’t my best result, but we managed to put together two consistent motos and deal with the difficult track. I’m looking forward to Thunder Valley next week, especially since it’s my home track. We’ll take the week to get everything dialed and plan to be back on the top step where we belong.”

Austin Forkner: (8th in 250MX) “Today didn’t go exactly as planned, but we got a great qualifying position and were feeling good going into the motos. My KX250 felt great and honestly, it just felt good to be back out here racing again. I know we’re capable of better results, but we were able to shake off those first-round jitters and can now focus on rebounding so we can get back up there where we belong.”

Colt Nichols: (9th in 250MX) “It was a tough day at the office for me. I struggled to find any flow on the track all day and was disappointed in my lackluster performance, but I need to put myself in a better position out of the gate. We race again on Saturday, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”

Zach Osborne: (10th in 450MX) “My day definitely could have been better but I’m still healthy and looking to get more. The first moto was a little disappointing and not what we were looking for but I turned it around and I’m happy to leave in a better spot than I was when I got here. This is the first time I’ve done two motos in a day since I started riding again so we didn’t have any expectations and to get a top-five in the second moto was a step in the right direction.”

Jo Shimoda: (10th in 250MX) “I rode well today and felt good about this first outdoor race, but we couldn’t quite make it stick for two motos. Thankfully the season is long, and this was the first of 12, so you’ll see us up on the podium before you know it. I can’t thank the entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team enough for having my bike dialed and all their hard work these past few weeks leading up to today’s race.”

After leading by 8 seconds early in moto 1, AC crashed and his day never recovered. Photo by: Octopi

Adam Cianciarulo: (11th in 450MX) “Even though the result wasn’t what we hoped for today, there were a lot of things we can build on for the season. I’m staying positive and I’m glad we can shake off those first-round jitters. We can now focus on getting back up on that podium where we belong. We know what we need to work on, and I can’t wait to get back out there next week.”

Christian Craig: (12th in 450MX) “It was a decent day at Pala for the first round. I struggled with the bike set up in the first moto, but I was able to rebound with a solid second moto. I expect a lot more out of myself, so I’m just going to keep pushing!”Jeremy Martin: “I’m glad to land two strong performances in today’s motos after being away from racing for so long. The track was brutal, so I’m happy to walk away with a solid second overall finish at the season opener.”

Dean Wilson: (17th in 450MX) “It was a little bit rough for me today. I had a little better start in Moto 2 and around the third lap I was hitting this jump exiting the corner and my rear wheel slid out off the face and I got a handlebar to the gut really bad and knocked the wind out of me and I couldn’t breathe. By the time I got up and going I was pretty far back and my bike wasn’t good enough to race. I went back and got checked out, all okay. It’s a disappointing first round but all we can do is keep trying to improve and get better.”

Jalek Swoll: (11th in 250MX) “It was an up and down day, practice was rough but I felt like we changed it a little bit in the races. Obviously, the first moto didn’t go as planned but I felt like second moto I was really grooving and being myself out there. All-in-all, I’m content with the day and I know we have some stuff to work on but I think the speed is pretty good for finally getting through a whole day of outdoors. We’ll regroup and be ready for Thunder Valley.”

Jarrett Frye: (12th in 250MX) “It was a tough day at the opening round, finishing 13th and 14th for 12th overall. I struggled with a few things, but we will go back to work this week and try to be better next weekend.”

Australian teenager Jett Lawrence is going to be hard to beat in ’21. Photo by: HRC

Max Vohland: (13th in 250MX) “Overall, today went really good. I got a holeshot in the first moto and ended up leading for 23 minutes, which was awesome. You learn a lot and gain a lot of confidence believing you can do it when you’re actually doing it! For my first National as a rookie, I think I performed really well today and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season now.”

Stilez Robertson: (14th in 250MX) “Just from not riding, my arms are not really in shape and my knee is a little sore but for not planning on racing, I’ll take it. We’ll keep building and the main goal this season is to make all 12 rounds, so thanks to everybody and let’s keep it going.”

Pierce Brown: (15th in 250MX) “I was stoked for the first moto, I got a decent start and collided with another rider, breaking my shifter right after the start. After getting the shifter on, I felt like I was riding decent but I was just too far back to make anything happen. I wanted to come out swinging for the second moto but I just started off too slow. It took me a while to find my flow and once I did, I was feeling good. It was good to be in the mix with the whole crew, that’s something I haven’t done in a while. I definitely want more, so we’re going to come out swinging for Colorado next weekend.”

Seth Hammaker: (16th in 250MX) “Today was tough. I felt strong all day and confident heading into both motos, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me today. We’ll take the week to regroup and will be ready for the next one at Thunder Valley.”

Nate Thrasher: (17th in 250MX) “It was a disappointing day. Coming off of a good start in the supercross season, I had higher expectations, but we’re going to put our head down and keep working and try for a better result next weekend.”

Cameron McAdoo: (20th in 250MX) “I’m disappointed with how things went today. I was really looking forward to starting the season strong and felt prepared after the extra few weeks following supercross, so this was a hard pill to swallow. I hurt my leg and it started giving me problems early into Moto 2, so I will need to get it checked out before we head to Colorado.”


Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.