Malcolm Stewart, Jo Shimoda hit Supercross milestones at Salt Lake City

Stewart Shimoda Supercross
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

Round 16 of the 2021 Supercross season was a race of firsts as Malcolm Stewart, the only Black rider in the series, and Jo Shimoda, the first Japanese rider to win a 250 SX race, reached career milestones.

Malcolm’s brother, James, cast a long shadow after winning the 450 Supercross championship in 2007 and 2009.

A decade later, Malcolm did not burst onto the scene quite as brightly. He scored only a handful of top-10s and no top-fives in his first two 450 seasons of 2017 and 2018. The 2019 season was worse. After getting off to a solid start with a seventh in Anaheim 1 that year, he broke his leg the following week and was forced to miss the remainder of the season.

Stewart showed promise in 2020. His first 10 races before the COVID-19 outbreak provided a sweep of the top 10. He earned top-fives in three of the final seven races at Salt Lake City – so it was fitting that was the venue of his first career podium and a highlight of his first season with Star Yahama Racing.

“For some reason I like Utah,” Stewart told the media after finishing third in Round 16 last Saturday night. “I’ve always had a good result here, and I’ve always rode good here.”

Stewart opened the 2021 season with a finish of fifth in Houston 1. He improved by one position in Indianapolis 3 and that fourth-place finish was tantalizingly close to the podium. Only one more top-five followed on the tough infield layout at Daytona International Speedway.

Stewart Shimoda Supercross
The infield course of Daytona International Speedway was the site of one of Stewart’s three top-fives in 2021 prior to Salt Lake City. Feld Entertainment, Inc.

“It’s cool to finally get that podium,” Stewart said. “It’s one of those goals I felt like I should have achieved a long time ago, but it took a while for me. But just being in the race. I’ve had a lot of struggles in my past, but I felt like when we had a two-week break I definitely got my bike a little better. Even fitness a little bit.

“The 450 class is tough. If you ain’t in the mix, you ain’t going to get a podium from the back. It’s all about making a couple of passes in the beginning and finding yourself in the race.”

Riding with the leaders is a much different experience than riding in the middle of the pack. Stewart learned lessons he didn’t know he needed to learn.

“I was in that little pack with just me, (Jason) Anderson and (Cooper Webb),” Stewart said. “It’s fun to have that little battle. Just to be in the mix with those guys because half the time I’ve been in the back, just riding by myself.

“I’m beyond stoked. It’s a dream come true for me to finally have that and now I finally have that taste for it and I’m ready to have some more.”

The same emotions echoed with Jo Shimoda.

In the closing laps of the 250 East race at Salt Lake City, Shimoda grabbed an early lead and held off a determined charge by Jett Lawrence in the closing laps. Shimoda became the first Japanese rider to win a Supercross event.

“Today was a most memorable day,” Shimoda said in an Instagram post. “Imagine coming in US with part of family … and now to win a Supercross?”

Jett Lawrence needed the position to close in on third in the points with only one race remaining. He was not going to allow Shimoda to take the win without a fight.

Lawrence was on Shimoda’s back tire as the two crossed under the checkers. When Lawrence caught up with Shimoda after the race, he was at least as happy as his friend as the winner was himself.

Stewart Shimoda Supercross
Jo Shimoda receives congratulations from Jett Lawrence. Both riders won their first 250 East races in 2021. Feld Entertainment, Inc.

“I knew something was coming,” Shimoda said after the race. “I had a few podiums this year. Today I just kept my pace. I knew I wasn’t the fastest today, but finally I got a holeshot and led the whole race. It was not easy, but I knew it was coming.”

It was Shimoda’s first holeshot of the season as well.

The 2021 season has been remarkable.

With one race still on the books, six riders have won their first 250 race. Jett Lawrence set the tone in Houston 2 with a victory in his eighth start. Shimoda finished fifth in that race. Notably, that was Shimoda’s worst result all season.

At the beginning of the season, Shimoda was happy with the consistency shown by his run of top-fives. He finished fourth, fifth and fourth in the three-race residency at Houston. But things changed when he scored two podiums in three Indianapolis races.

“If you’re in fourth or fifth in all the races, you will never be the champion,” Shimoda said. “My goal was to be consistent in the one, two, three spot. It’s getting better and better, so we’re going to keep going this way.”

Shimoda knew something great was on the horizon. During practice for the penultimate round of Supercross action, he practiced his celebration.

“Every time I crossed the finish line I was tapping (the front fender),” Shimoda said. “That was the best time to do it.”

Jett Lawrence wins Hangtown Pro Motocross, remains perfect in 450s

Lawrence Hangtown Motocross
Align Media

Jett Lawrence remains perfect in the Pro Motocross series after recording another perfect round at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, California. In his second start on a 450, Lawrence won his second National with his fourth consecutive moto win. It is getting increasingly difficult to find the right superlatives to describe the exploits on the reigning 250 West Supercross champion.

“The track was so brutal out there,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Jason Thomas. “The bike handles amazing even when it’s not too friendly. You had to be really patient; you couldn’t take too much. I didn’t eat enough before that second moto. I kind of lost energy halfway through, but luckily I could use technique and balance and just keep that flow going.”

Lawrence leaves Hangtown with an 18-point advantage over Ferrandis in the 450 Motocross standings, but perhaps more importantly, he climbed to 19th in the SuperMotocross standings and should he stay there, he has an automatic invitation to the Main events in the SMX Championship.

“On this track, you just have to manage,” Lawrence continued. “If you try to take too much and not respect the track, it will bite you very quickly. It was humbling on the first few laps. I got kicked on the cutout at the start of the third section, the tabletop going to the left. I had to get my focus because the boys were coming.”

Still in his first few races since returning from a concussion suffered at Houston in the Supercross series, Dylan Ferrandis finished second with results of third in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2. While Ferrandis was happy with the result, he remains hopeful that he will contend for victory shortly.

“The first moto was very hard for my physically, Ferrandis said. “I got arm pump and when you get arm pump your body gets tired. But I’m very happy because we made a big change for the second moto. We tried stuff every session today and in the last moto the bike was much better, but unfortunately I wasn’t sure what I could do with this bike because the track was very hard and difficult to pass.”

RESULTS: How they finished in the 450 Overall at Hangtown

With the rash of injuries at the end of the Supercross season, the podium was filled with heartwarming stories. Cooper Webb returned to action last week in Pala and failed to make the podium. He is steadily improving with a third-place finish in Hangtown. after finishing with a 4-2.

“It’s incredible what seven days can do,” Webb said. “Last week I felt like I was going to get lapped in the second moto. This week, I could see the leader. It was nice. I fought hard, learned how to suffer again there and that felt nice.

Moto 2 wasn’t pretty for Lawrence. On several occasions in the opening laps, he nearly high sided as he rode the front wheel through the ruts. The reward was worth the risk. By the halfway point, Lawrence had 4.5-second lead over Webb, who was embroiled in a tight three-rider battle for second with his teammate Aaron Plessinger pressuring him and Ferrandis ready to take advantage if those made contact.

It took 20 minutes for Plessinger to get around Webb and once he did, he trailed Lawrence by four seconds. But then, with three minutes remaining, Plessinger crashed and had difficulty restarting the bike, handing second back to Webb who has seven seconds behind Lawrence. Plessinger fell to fourth with results of third and sixth.

Adam Cianciarulo rounded out the top five with a 5-4.

Last week Hunter Lawrence won the overall with a 3-1. He repeated that feat in Hangtown in an exact replica of his Fox Raceway results last week. In Moto 1, Lawrence got off to a slow start and lost 10 seconds in the opening laps. Forced to overcome a sixth-place position in the race at the end of Lap 1, he once again caught the riders ahead of him when the field hit heavy traffic. For the second week, scored another 3-1 for the Hangtown National win.

“The start was crucial’ I knew I had to go,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “They laid a lot of water down, so I didn’t want to be behind any longer than [I was]. First hot one of the year, was a bit of a wakeup call, so I’m happy to get out of here safe and healthy.”

Lawrence’s third-place finish in Moto 1 featured a fierce battle for final spot on the podium when he caught Spain’s Guillem Farres and France’s Tom Vialle. With Lawrence hailing from Australia, the international nature of the sport was highlighted.

Lawrence left Hangtown with a 10-point advantage over Haiden Deegan in the Pro Motocross championship battle.

Click here for 250 overall results

Justin Cooper finished second in both motos to finish second overall. Hangtown represented a huge improvement from Fox Raceway where he finished fifth overall with a 5-4 finish in the two motos. Cooper pressured Haiden Deegan in the second half of Moto 1 and he earned the holeshot in the second moto and stayed within three seconds of Lawrence in that race.

“He was following me a little bit, checking out my lines, seeing where he was better,” Cooper said. “It’s disappointing to give up the lead like that but it was way better than last weekend. I will definitely take two seconds. I want to be on the top of the step. I feel like I get close to the top step but I never get it done. That’s building up the frustration – the fire. I really want to get one of these wins, so it’s time to start digging.”

Haiden Deegan earned the first holeshot of his career in Moto 1 and rode away from the field, building a four-second lead in the opening laps. Cooper trimmed the lead at the halfway point and for a while it leveled off at two seconds. Then Cooper made another charge with three to go and closed to within a second. Deegan was biding his time, however.

“I was saving a little. I knew at the end Justin was going to try and put a charge on. I let him get up close and then sent it super hard at the end to break him a little at the end.”

Deegan’s first moto win comes in only his fourth National and he remains perfect in regard to podiums this year.

“This was a dream since I was a little kid, to win,” Deegan said. “And in my fourth race, it’s gnarly. I was just sending it. I was getting a little tired at the end becasue I left my mouth open the whole time. It’s unreal; I’m so hyped. I wanted to win bad and I proved it to you guys.”

Chaos erupted in turn 1 in Moto 2 Jeremy Martin went and another rider ran over his arm. Michael Mosiman crashed further down the track on that same lap. Both riders were helped off course by the Alpinestars Medical team.

2023 Motocross Race Recaps

Fox Raceway: Jett Lawrence wins in first 450 start

2023 Supercross Race Recaps

Salt Lake City: Chase Sexton ends the season with win
Denver: Chase Sexton wins, takes points’ lead with Eli Tomac injury
Nashville: Chase Sexton keeps hope alive; Cooper Webb out
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Eli Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Eli Tomac wins opener for the first time

More SuperMotocross coverage

Chase Sexton is out for Hangtown
Enzo Lopes re-signs with Club MX for 2024
Record Supercross attendance reported in 2023
SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Pala
Results and points after Pala
Jett Lawrence wins Pala in his first MX start
450 Champion Chase Sexton takes back what he gave away
250 West Supercross champion Jett Lawrence ends dream career
250 East Supercross champion Hunter Lawrence overcomes doubt and injury