Dylan Ferrandis wins Motocross Round 9 at Budds Creek as time runs down for Ken Roczen


Ken Roczen scored as many points as Dylan Ferrandis in Round 9 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season at Budds Creek, Md., but by virtue of winning Moto 2, Ferrandis took the overall win. More importantly, Ferrandis maintains his championship advantage with six motos remaining and time running off the clock on the 2021 season.

Ferrandis overcame a fifth-place start in Moto 1 and came out of the gate fourth in Moto 2.

Roczen grabbed the early lead in both motos with Ferrandis trailing behind. But while Roczen was able to hold his advantage till the end of Moto 1 and Ferrandis climbed to a distant second, Roczen could not keep the French rookie at bay in Moto 2.

“Last weekend at Unadilla, I go beat so bad by Ken,” Ferrandis told NBC Sports’ Ashley Reynard. “We came back this week as a team, all together, and addressed the problem. We made some changes on the bike this week and we understood why we were so slow last weekend. So we made the change and I was happy about it.  This weekend, the bike was insane.”

A slight bobble by Roczen at the halfway point of Moto 2 brought the top four together, which were Roczen, teammate Chase Sexton, Ferrandis and Eli Tomac.

Then Sexton almost jumped off course, allowing Ferrandis by – and once Ferrandis has the leader in sight in 2021, it’s only a matter of time before he attacks. With seven minutes remaining on the clock, Ferrandis swept past and slowly pulled away.

With the tie breaker of the better Moto 2 finish, Ferrandis was awarded the overall victory.

He will be much more interested in the fact that Roczen now needs to make up 13 points per round. That means Ferrandis is going to have to fail to podium a couple of times in the final six motos – something he has done only twice in 18 motos so far in 2021.

Ferrandis was fifth in Moto 2 at Spring Creek and Moto 1 at Washougal.

“It was fun,” Ferrandis said. “It’s most fun when you win.”

Roczen can only control what happens on his bike for the remainder of the season. With three moto wins in the last two rounds and a second-place finish, he has done his job. If not for a crash in Moto 1 of Spring Creek and a pair of motos outside the top five the following week at Washougal, the 450 points’ battle would be as tight as it is in the 250 class.

“I’m satisfied with a second-place,” Roczen said. “I gave it all I had. The track was tough and those guys were right behind me the whole time.”

Third and fourth-place went to another pair of riders who swapped positions in the two motos.

Tomac finished third overall with a 4-3.

“(Moto 2) felt much better than Moto 1 overall,” Tomac said. “The first two guys, we were basically doing the same pace. It was tough. I was happy to end the day on a stronger note than Moto 1.”

Chase Sexton was fourth with a 3-4.

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five with his 5-6.

450 results (moto finish)

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (2-1)
  2. Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (1-2)
  3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (4-3)
  4. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (3-4)
  5. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (5-6)
  6. Joey Savatgy, Thoasville, Ga., KTM (6-7)
  7. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (10-5)
  8. Dean Wilson, Scotland, Husqvarna (8-9)
  9. Coty Schock, Dover, Del. (7-11)
  10. Max Anstie, Newbury, England, Suzuki (9-10)

450 points standings

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 392
  2. Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 353
  3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 321
  4. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 308
  5. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 240
  6. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 240
  7. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas – 239
  8. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 224
  9. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 217
  10. Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., KTM – 189

In 250s, Jeremy Martin continues to impress with his third overall win in the last four rounds as Jett Lawrence shaved one point off Justin Cooper’s lead as they take a razor thin margin with six motos remaining.

Since his incredible performance on his home track of Springs Creek when he finished 1-1 while riding injured, Martin has arguably been the top rider in the field with a sweep of the podium and four moto wins.

Motocross Round 9 Budds
Jeremy Martin’s third overall win of the 2021 season gave him 20 for the career and moved him to fourth on the all time list. (ProMotcross.com / Align Media)

At Budds Creek, he got off to a relatively modest start – by his recent standards, at least – and finished third in Moto 1. He got the holeshot in Moto 2, however, and rode away from the field. With this win, he has 20 career victories and moves into fourth on all-time list, tied with Steve Lamson and one ahead of the legendary Ryan Villopoto.

“I’m able to dig deep because as a kid I had to do chores at Millville and weed whack all the hills and stuff in the middle of the summer,” Martin told Reynard after the race. “I’m kind of used to the heat.”

Despite these strong runs, he has not been able to make up any significant ground on the points’ leaders Cooper and Lawrence.

Cooper dominated the first race at Budds Creek to score his third consecutive Moto 1 win and fifth of the season. But the 1-1 he so desperately wants, and at this stage of the season needs, continues to elude him. Cooper got off to a slow start in Moto 2 and started seventh. His principle rival in the championship hunt, launched third and quickly gained second.

Cooper minimized the points’ loss by climbing to fourth at the end of Moto 2 and finishing third overall.

“I came down with a pretty big sickness a few days ago,” Cooper said. “Feeling really bad the last couple of days. Just happy to be here, honestly. My energy is really low right now and I didn’t have the fight for those guys.”

Lawrence’s bad start came in Moto 1. Like Cooper in the second race, he was mired in seventh at the start, but third was just in front of him through most of the first half of that moto. Lawrence caught second-place Austin Forkner with eight minutes remaining on the clock and as the two navigated heavy traffic, Lawrence surged into the runner-up spot. It was too late to catch Cooper.

Lawrence’s 2-2 was enough for second overall and with Cooper finishing 1-4, Lawrence gained a single point. Three points separate the leaders with three rounds remaining.

“Sadly, I’m still not happy,” Lawrence said. “I finally sorted my start. My start was really good. … Basically, I went to play poker with no money. I came into a pretty finish, but I had a pretty rough week. Feeling not the greatest.”

Jett’s brother, Hunter Lawrence actually helped gain that one point by finishing ahead of Cooper in Moto 2. With a 6-3, Hunter finished fourth overall.

Forkner rounded out the top five with a 4-5 to score his best result of the season. His previous best was a sixth overall at High Point in June.

250 results (moto finish)

  1. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (3-1)
  2. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (2-2)
  3. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (1-4)
  4. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (6-3)
  5. Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki (4-5)
  6. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (7-7)
  7. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (9-6)
  8. Ty Masterpool, Paradise, Texas, GasGas (8-9)
  9. Dilan Schwartz, Alpine, Calif., Suzuki (10-8)
  10. Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (5-15)

250 points standings

  1. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 367
  2. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 364
  3. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 307
  4. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 298
  5. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 270
  6. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 220
  7. Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna – 195
  8. Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki, – 186
  9. Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha – 172
  10. Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 168


Round 1: Dylan Ferrandis, Jett Lawrence victorious at Fox Raceway

Round 2: Ken Roczen’s perfect day as Justin Cooper takes 250s at Thunder Valley

Round 3: Dylan Ferrandis wins Motocross Round 3 at High Point, takes points lead

Round 4: Dylan Ferrandis wins again, stretches points’ lead over Ken Roczen

Round 5: Dylan Ferrandis remains hot in 450s; another new 250 winner with Hunter Lawrence

Round 6: Justin Barcia snaps Ferrandis streak at Spring Creek, gives GasGas first victory

Round 7: Chase Sexton gets first 2021 win at Washougal, Jeremy Martin doubles in 250s

Round 8: Ken Roczen gets back in the 450 chase; Jett Lawrence trims Justin Cooper lead in 250s

Heart of Racing program aims to elevate new generation of women to star in sports cars

women sports cars
Mike Levitt/LAT Images/Heart of Racing

(Editor’s note: This story on the Heart of Racing sports cars shootout for women is one in an occasional Motorsports Talk series focusing on women in racing during March, which is Women’s History Month.)

Heart of Racing driver and team manager Ian James says his daughter, Gabby, isn’t so interested in auto racing. But she is interested (as a New York-based journalist) in writing about the sport’s efforts and growth in gender equality

It’s a topic that also was brought up by James’ wife, Kim.

“They’re always saying, ‘Hey, you manage all these guys, and you help them, so why not a woman?’ ” Ian James told NBC Sports. “And I feel like there are a lot of women that haven’t had a fair crack at it in sports car racing.

Our whole DNA at Heart of Racing is we give people opportunities in all types of situations where there’s been crew, personnel or drivers. And I felt like we hadn’t really addressed the female driver situation. I felt like there was a void to give somebody a chance to really prove themselves.”

During the offseason, the team took a major step toward remedying that.

Hannah Grisham at the Heart of Racing shootout (Mike Levitt/LAT)

Heart of Racing held its first female driver shootout last November at the APEX Motor Club in Phoenix, Arizona, to select two women who will co-drive an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the SRO SprintX Championship.

The season will begin this weekend at Sonoma Raceway with Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt behind the wheel. The team also picked a third driver, 17-year-old Annie Rhule, for a 2023 testing program.

The Phoenix audition included 10 finalists who were selected from 130 applicants to the program, which has been fully underwritten by Heart of Racing’s sponsors.

“We didn’t want it to be someone who just comes from a socio-economic background that could afford to do it on their own course,” James said. “We can pick on pure talent. We’re committed to three years to do this and see if we can find the right person. I’m very hopeful.”

So is Grisham, a Southern California native who has been racing since she was 6 in go-karts and since has won championships in Mazda and Miata ladder series. She has several victories in the World Racing League GP2 (an amateur sports car endurance series). The last two years, Grisham has worked as a test driver for the Pirelli tire company (she lives near Pirelli’s U.S. headquarters in Rome, Georgia, and tests about 30 times a year).

Starting with Sonoma during SprintX event weekends (which feature races Saturday and Sunday), she will split the Heart of Racing car with O’Meara-Hunt (a New Zealand native she got to know at the shootout).

“It’s huge; the biggest opportunity I’ve had in this sport,” Grisham, 23, told NBC Sports. “Now it’s up to me to perform how I know I can. But I’m super lucky to be with such an amazing team and have a good teammate. The Heart of Racing has a family vibe and energy to it that’s really amazing. It’s super exciting. It’s hard to put into words.”

Grisham is hopeful that a strong performance eventually could lead to a full-time ride with Heart of Racing. The team has full-time entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and won the GTD category of the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona with the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 piloted by James, Darren Turner, Roman DeAngelis and Marco Sorensen.

James said “there’s no guarantee” of placement in an IMSA entry for Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt, but “if they prove themselves, we’ll continue to help them throughout their career and our team. The GT3 program is an obvious home for that. If they get the opportunity and don’t quite make it, we’ll be looking for the next two. The next three years, we’ll cycle through drivers until we find the right one.”

Grisham described the two-day shootout as a friendly but intense environment. After a day of getting acclimated to their cars, drivers qualified on new tires the second day and then did two 25-minute stints to simulate a race.

Hannah Grisham reviews data with Heart of Racing sports car driver Gray Newell during the team’s shootout last November (Mike Levitt/LAT).

“Everyone was super nice,” she said. “Once everyone gets in the car, it’s a different level. A different switch gets turned on. Everyone was super nice; everyone was quick. I feel we had an adequate amount of seat time, which is definitely helpful.

“It’s always cool to meet more women in the sport because there’s not too many of us, even though there’s more and more. It’s always cool to meet really talented women, especially there were so many from all over the world.”

IMSA has celebrated female champions and race winners, notably Katherine Legge (who is running GTD full time this season with Sheena Monk for Gradient Racing). The field at Sebring and Daytona also included the Iron Dames Lamborghini (a female-dominated team).

The Heart of Racing’s female driver shootout drew interested candidates from around the world (Mike Levitt/LAT).

James believes “a breakout female driver will be competing with the best of them” in the next five years as gender barriers slowly recede in motorsports.

“It’s been a male-dominated sport,” James said. “It’s still a very minute number of women drivers compared to the guys. I’m sure back in the day there were physical hurdles about it that were judged. But now the cars are not very physical to drive, and it’s more about technique and mental strength and stuff like that, and there’s no reason a girl shouldn’t do just as well as a guy. What we’re just trying to achieve is that there isn’t an obvious barrier to saying ‘Hey, I can’t hire a guy or a girl.’ We just want to put girls in front of people and our own program that are legitimate choices going forward for people.”

“There’s been some really good female drivers, but a lot of them just haven’t been able to sustain it, and a lot of that comes from sponsorship. I think (with the shootout), there’s no pressure of raising money and worrying about crash damage. We’ve taken care of all that so they can really focus on the job at hand.”

Funding always has been a hurdle for Grisham, who caught the racing bug from her father, Tom, an off-road driver who raced the Baja 1000 several times.

“I don’t come from a lot of money by any means,” she said. “So since a young age, I’ve always had to find sponsorships and get people to help me, whether it was buying tires, paying for entry fees, paying for the shipment of a car to an actual race. Literally knocking on the doors of people or businesses in my town.

“So yeah, it’s definitely something I’ve always struggled with and held me back because the sport revolves so much around money. So again to get this opportunity is insane.”

Rianna O’Meara-Hunt was one of two women selected by the Heart of Racing to drive in the SRO SprintX Championship this year (Mike Levitt/LAT).

Grisham credits racing pioneer Lyn St. James (an Indy 500 veteran and sports car champion) as a role model who has helped propel her career. She initially was hooked by the sights, smells and sounds of racing — but also its competitive fire.

“There’s a zone you get in, that subconscious state of mind when you’re driving,” Grisham said. “It’s like addictive almost. I love it. Also I’m just a very competitive person as I think most race car drivers are.

“For sure I want to stay with the Heart of Racing. Obviously, I’m still getting to know everyone, but it’s a super family vibe. That’s how I grew up in the sport with just my dad and I wrenching on the cars. That’s what I love about this sport is all the amazing people you meet. And I think this is one of the most promising teams in this country. For sure, I want to learn as much as I can from them and hopefully continue. I feel so lucky and grateful to be one of those chosen.”