All three Andersen Promotions-run series in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000, are underway in the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy test this week at Barber Motorsports Park.
Some news and notes about the driver/team combinations to follow:
USF2000 drivers Michael Epps and Alexandre Baron will test for Belardi; Epps is confirmed at Belardi’s USF2000 team while Baron, a two-time race winner last year, will move up to Indy Lights in 2014 with Belardi.
Neither of Schmidt Peterson’s drivers are confirmed but Jack Harvey is a strong possibility for one Indy Lights seat.
Zach Veach, Matthew Brabham and Lloyd Read are confirmed at their teams and the fourth confirmed 2014 driver, Zack Meyer, is not testing this week.
USF2000 2013 drivers Neil Alberico and Scott Hargrove (Cape), Garett Grist (Andretti) and Michael Johnson (JDC) will all move up to Pro Mazda with the same teams. Shelby Blackstock (Andretti) will continue for his second season.
Americans Kyle Kaiser, Spencer Pigot and Kyle Connery all raced in Pro Mazda in 2013 but do not have deals confirmed for 2014 as yet. Kaiser and Pigot test for Juncos Racing, and Connery will test for JDC.
Newcomers to watch at the test include Aaron Telitz, Jack Mitchell Jr. and Harrison Scott. Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., recently won the Skip Barber Race Series Championship Shootout – and a MAZDASPEED Scholarship to compete in USF2000 next year – in the face of very stiff competition, including Eidson, and will drive one day apiece with Afterburner Autosport and ArmsUp Motorsports.
Belardi will have all four of its signed drivers testing together for the first time.
INDY LIGHTS (7)
Belardi Auto Racing: 5 Michael Epps (GBR), 6 Alexandre Baron (FRA)
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: 7 Yann Cunha (BRZ), 77 Jack Harvey (GBR)
Andretti Autosport: 26 Zach Veach (USA), 83 Matthew Brabham (USA)
BHA/Jeffrey Mark Motorsports: 28 Lloyd Read (WAL)
PRO MAZDA (18)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Neil Alberico (USA), 3 Scott Hargrove (CAN)
Juncos Racing: 4 Alfonso Celis (MEX), 5 Jose Gutierrez (MEX),
6 Kyle Kaiser (USA), 7 Spencer Pigot (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 9 Kyle Connery (USA), 19 Harrison Scott (GBR),
19 Jose Enrique Lopez (VEN), 54 Michael Johnson (USA)
M1 Racing: 10 Robert La Rocca (VEN), 21 Sebastian Arriola (MEX),
21 Fernando Urrutia (MEX), 37 Jay Horak (USA)
Andretti Autosport: 27 Garett Grist (CAN), 28 Shelby Blackstock (USA)
Team Pelfrey: 81 Pipo Derani (BRZ), 82 Dalton Kellett (CAN)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 3 Jake Eidson (USA)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Daniel Burkett (CAN), 14 Florian Latorre (FRA),
41 Nico Jamin (FRA), 44 Michael Epps (GBR)
ArmsUp Motorsports: 6 Timothy Paul (USA), 24 Peter Portante (USA),
51 Aaron Telitz (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 9 Nathan Blok (CAN), 9 Pato O’Ward (MEX),
12 Henrik Furuseth (NOR), 19 Clark Toppe (USA)
Afterburner Autosport: 17 Victor Franzoni (BRZ), 18 Harrison Scott (GBR),
18 Aaron Telitz (USA), 98 Gustavo Myasava (BRZ)
Pabst Racing Services: 21 Will Owen (USA), 77 Austin Cindric (USA)
JAY Motorsports: 91 Jack Mitchell Jr. (USA)
2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Motocross season opener: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top
As the SuperMotocross season heads outdoors, the NBC Power Rankings change significantly with results from the Motocross opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. The Power Rankings assign a numeric value to each individual moto (90 points maximum) as well as the overall standings (100 points) and averages that number over the past 45 days. Included in the Power Rankings are results from the final five Supercross rounds, which fit into that 45-day timeframe.
It didn’t take long for Jett Lawrence to rocket to the top of the SuperMotocross rankings – only about 74 minutes in fact. Lawrence dominated his first moto and beat his teammate Chase Sexton, the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross champion, to the line by 10 seconds. He had to fight a little harder for the second moto win as Sexton stalked him throughout the race and ended up less than a second behind.
Beginning this week, we have added the SuperMotocross points’ ranking beside the rider’s name and in one fell swoop, Lawrence went from being unranked in the 450 class to 26th. To qualify for the inaugural SuperMotocross’ guaranteed 20 positions that automatically make the gate for the three-race championship series, Lawrence needs to be inside the top 20 in combined Supercross and Motocross points. The bubble is currently held by Justin Starling and Lawrence needs to make up 44 points to overtake him.
Sexton’s second-place finish in the overall standings at Fox Raceway marked his ninth consecutive top-five finish. After the race, Sexton compared the battle he had with Lawrence to the one he experienced with Eli Tomac in last year’s Pro Motocross championship. These two riders had a significant advantage over the field in Pala, but there is still a lot of racing to be completed.
After missing 13 rounds to a concussion, Dylan Ferrandis told NBC Sports that he was not going to do anything risky in the season opener at Fox Raceway. If he dialed back his effort at all, one would be hard-pressed to notice. He finished third in both motos and was third in the overall standings. Ferrandis began the weekend just outside the top 20 in combined SuperMotocross points and climbed to 19th. In the next few weeks, he will get a little more breathing room over the cutline and then challenge for wins.
Adam Cianciarulo’s three-race streak of top-five finishes ended with a sixth-place overall at Fox Raceway, but that was enough to advance him one position in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings and land him eighth in the combined points standings. His individual motos were moderate, but Cianciarulo is still battling the effects of injury and a nagging loss of strength in his wrist.
Aaron Plessinger returned from injury in the Supercross season finale to finish second at Salt Lake City. He added another top-five to his season total and now has six of those in the 13 rounds he’s made. With Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac not currently racing in Motocross, Plessinger has an opportunity to rise to the third seeding in short order.
A bad start to Moto 1 at Fox Raceway was not enough to deter Hunter Lawrence. Neither was the fact that he was riding with sore ribs after experiencing a practice crash earlier in the week. He was a distant 10th to start the first race and for most of the 30 minutes, it seemed he would finish off the podium. Lawrence did not win the 250 East Supercross championship by giving in to hopelessness or pain, however.
Lawrence picked off one rider and then another until he found the battle for the top five in front of him at the halfway point. Once the field started to lap riders, Lawrence used the opportunity to continue forward through the grid. He passed third-place Jo Shimoda with two laps remaining and challenged Maximus Vohland for second on the final trip around Fox Raceway, but had to settle for the final spot on the podium. Lawrence dominated Moto 2 and claimed the overall victory in Pala.
Justin Cooper made his first start of the season at Fox Raceway and earned enough NBC Power Average points to climb to second. Partly this was due to consistently strong runs in both motos and a 5-4 that gave him the fifth position overall, but he is also not weighed down with moderate Supercross results. It will take a week or two to see where his strength lands him on the grid.
RJ Hampshire may feel he has something to prove after finishing second to Jett Lawrence in the 250 SX West division. He certainly rode like that was the case in Moto 1 and easily outpaced the field on his way to victory lane. In Moto 2, he crashed twice on Lap 1 and dropped back to 39th. It took half of the race to get inside the top 20 and salvage points. By the end of the race, he was 11th and while that was enough to get him on the overall podium, it cost him points in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.
Haiden Deegan surprised the field in Houston in his 250 Supercross debut by finishing fifth. At the time, he said his strong result was because there were no expectations. He echoed that statement after the Motocross season opener. His second-place finish in the overall standings was enough to project him five positions up the SuperMotocross Rankings. In 11 rounds in the combined series, Deegan has earned seven top-fives and a worst finish of eighth.
Jo Shimoda did not make his first Supercross race of 2023 until late in the season. He finished fourth on the hybrid track of Atlanta, which had some similar elements to Fox Raceway. His fourth-place finish in Moto 1 of the Motocross opener made it seem likely he would score an overall podium, but a sixth in the second race cost him points in the NBC Power Rankings in a field that promises to be extremely tight.
Driver (SMX rank)
Hunter Lawrence (1)
Justin Cooper (42)
RJ Hampshire (3)
Haiden Deegan (4)
Jo Shimoda (16)
Guillem Farres (46)
Levi Kitchen (6)
Max Anstie (5)
Max Vohland (8)
Enzo Lopes (10)
Mitchell Oldenburg (13)
Carson Mumford (19)
Jordon Smith (7)
Ryder DiFrancesco (48)
Chris Blose (12)
Chance Hymas (27)
Tom Vialle (9)
Jett Reynolds (55)
Michael Mosiman (28)
Garrett Marchbanks (64)
* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner in Supercross and overall winner in Motocross. It awards 90 points for each Moto, Heat and Triple Crown win. The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.