Chase Sexton wins Motocross Round 9 at Unadilla, retakes points’ lead; Jo Shimoda wins second 250 of 2022

Sexton Motocross Round 9
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Just when it appeared Eli Tomac might run away with the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, Chase Sexton mounted a streak of four moto wins and two overall to retake the points’ lead in Round 9 at Unadilla MX in New Berlin, N.Y. He leads Tomac by one point with tree rounds remaining.

More impressively, he had to pass Tomac in both races to do so. He got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and watched Tomac earn the hole shot in Moto 2. Sexton roared past Tomac at the 10-minute mark of the second race and stretched his lead to more than 17 seconds by the end.

“I felt awesome out there today,” told MavTV’s Jason Thomas. “These rutty conditions really suit my style. I knew that coming here; that I had to capitalize today and I feel like we did that.

“The second moto at Washougal was huge for me. I knew I needed to stop Eli and finally got that. Now I’m riding with a lot of confidence”

In Moto 1, Sexton got a poor start and dropped to the high side of the top 10 as Tomac grabbed the lead early from Ken Roczen.

But Sexton was relentless on a track that has not been one of Tomac’s favorites.

“I did what I could,” Tomac said. “Chase was just strong today – really strong. But you know what? This is an improvement for me here. That last few year haven’t been great, so I felt like it was okay to hang onto the 2-2.”

No second-place rider has had this many points at this stage of the season and with three rounds remaining and an 83-point gap from Tomac to Jason Anderson, this is coming down to a two-man show. Sexton and Tomac have now finished first or second in the last 12 motos.

Anderson kept as much pressure on as possible, finishing 3-3 to finish third overall. It is his third straight third-place finish and fifth podium of the season. He was an early contender for the championship after winning Round 2 at Hangtown.

Aaron Plessinger finished fourth overall with a 7-4 as Ryan Dungey rounded out the top five with a 6-6.

In what was originally announced as a two-race schedule to test the waters, Dungey now sits sixth in the standings.

In his first race back from injury, Dylan Ferrandis narrowly missed the podium in the first moto and finished seventh overall with a 10th in Race 2.

Malcolm Stewart and Dean Wilson also returned from injury, but did not fare as well. Stewart was 15th overall with a 14-16; Wilson was 16th with a 19-13.

450 results (moto finish)

  1. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (1-1)
  2. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (2-2)
  3. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (3-3)
  4. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (7-4)
  5. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (6-6)
  6. Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (5-7)
  7. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (4-10)
  8. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas, (10-5)
  9. Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki (9-8)
  10. Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (11-9)

450 points standings

  1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha – 409
  2. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 408
  3. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 325
  4. Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 304
  5. Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha – 283
  6. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plain, Minn., KTM – 266
  7. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas – 246
  8. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 230
  9. Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 191
  10. Shane McElrath, Cantaon, NC, Husqvarna – 165

Jo Shimoda remains the only 250 rider other than Jett Lawrence to win an overall in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Round 9, and along with Chase Sexton as the 450 winner, he made a statement about the season not being over.

The pair of motos at Unadilla featured ride away wins, but there was plenty of drama surrounding both winners. Justin Cooper grabbed the hole shot in Moto 1 until he slid on a slick spot and hit the dirt. That handed the lead to Shimoda who easily claimed the victory over Hunter Lawrence and RJ Hampshire.

The key to that race was a strong start by Shimoda. He’s struggled with this part of his game, which forced him to work even harder. Shimoda tipped over in Moto 2 and was riding seventh at the end of Lap 1, but he maniacally made his way into third by the end. It must not have sunk in that fourth was good enough, because he attacked each corner as he tried to pass teammate Cameron McAdoo in the closinglaps, who was returning from injury.

“I was in the overall position already, but I just kept going and going to try and get on the box again,” Shimoda told MavTV’s Jason Thomas. “I had a tipover and made it tough on myself again.”

Cooper’s fall in the first moto dropped him to fifth for that race and made the overall an uphill battle. Winning Moto 2 was enough to give him a second consecutive overall finish and his third of the season.

“I can’t be too disappointed,” Cooper said. “I wanted to go 1-1 today. I really want to win here; I haven’t won here yet. It didn’t pan out. I had that mistake in the first moto and went down with the lead. My bike was pretty bent up from that, so I did what I could and got back to fifth.”

Finishing second in Race 1, Hunter Lawrence had a shot at the overall, but was denied once more. For the eighth time in nine rounds, he finished on the overall podium but cannot get on the top spot.

Jett Lawrence’s three-race winning streak ended with three crashes in the two motos at Unadilla. Race 1 was disastrous with him hitting the ground twice. Lawrence also crashed in Moto 2, but was able to rebound to finish second. This is his worst round since RedBud when he lost an engine in Moto 1.

“Today just wasn’t my day,” Lawrence said. “I hope I put on a good show with the crashes today.”

250 results (moto finish)

  1. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (1-3)
  2. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Yamaha (5-1)
  3. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (2-5)
  4. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (7-2)
  5. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (3-8)
  6. Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM (6-6)
  7. Nick Romano, Bayside, N.Y., Yamaha (4-9)
  8. Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki (11-4)
  9. Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (10-7)
  10. Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GasGas (9-10)

250 points standings

  1. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 391
  2. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 365
  3. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 351
  4. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY – 316
  5. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 227
  6. Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 222
  7. Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Penn., Kawasaki – 207
  8. Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha – 180
  9. Michael Mosiman, Sebastapol, Calif., GasGas – 169
  10. Stilez Roberston, Bakersfield, Calif., Husqvarna – 169

Round 1, Fox Raceway: Chase Sexton takes early lead in the championship hunt
Round 2, Hangtown: After 12 years of trying, Jason Anderson wins a Motocross race
Round 3, Thunder Valley: Three races, three winners as Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Round 4, High Point: Now four-for-four, Eli Tomac takes the trophy
Round 5, RedBud: Tomac becomes first in 2022 with two wins; Hunter Lawrence takes red plate in 250s
Round 6, Southwick: Tomac’s domination continues with a second perfect round
Round 7, Spring Creek: Tomac takes points’ lead with another 1-1 day
Round 8, Washougal: Sexton brackets the first eight weeks with second win

Ford unveils a new Mustang for 2024 Le Mans in motorsports ‘lifestyle brand’ retooling

Ford Mustang Le Mans
Ford Performance

LE MANS, France — Ford has planned a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.”

The Friday unveil of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford’s announcement in February (and a ballyhooed test at Sebring in March) that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull.

The Mustang will enter the GT3 category next year with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The IMSA entries will be a factory Ford Performance program run by Multimatic, and a customer program in WEC with Proton Competition.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, also an amateur sports car racer, told The Associated Press the Mustang will be available to compete in various GT3 series across the globe to customer teams. But more important, Farley said, is the overall rebranding of Ford Performance – done by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee – that is aimed at making Ford a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.

“It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them,” Farley told the AP. “And then this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company – this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”

Ford last competed in sports car racing in 2019 as part of a three-year program with Chip Ganassi Racing. The team scored the class win at Le Mans in 2016 in a targeted performance aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford snapping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.

Ford on Friday displayed a Mustang with a Lee-designed livery that showcased the cleaner, simplified look that will soon be featured on all its racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with Ford Performance in white lettering underneath will now be branded simply FP.

The new mark will be used across car liveries, merchandise and apparel, display assets, parts and accessories and in advertising.

Farley cited Porsche as an automaker that has successfully figured out how to sell cars to consumers and race cars in various series around the world while creating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes Ford’s new direction will help the company sell street cars, race cars, boost interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that convinces consumers that a stalwart of American automakers is a hip, cool brand.

“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road,” Farley told the AP, adding that the design of the Mustang is “unapologetically American.”

He lauded the work of Lee, who is considered the top helmet designer among race car drivers.

“We’re in the first inning of a nine inning game, and going to Le Mans is really important,” Farley said. “But for customer cars, getting the graphics right, designing race cars that win at all different levels, and then designing a racing brand for Ford Performance that gets rebranded and elevated is super important.”

He said he’s kept a close eye on how Porsche and Aston Martin have built their motorsports businesses and said Ford will be better.

“We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all,” Farley said. “Second is the first loser.”

Farley, an avid amateur racer himself, did not travel to Le Mans for the announcement. The race that begins Saturday features an entry from NASCAR, and Ford is the reigning Cup Series champion with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry is a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and is being widely celebrated throughout the industry. Farley did feel left out of the party in France – a sentiment NASCAR tried to avoid by inviting many of its partners to attend the race so that it wouldn’t seem like a Chevrolet-only celebration.

“They’re going right and I’m going left – that NASCAR thing is a one-year deal, right? It’s Garage 56 and they can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party,” Farley said. “We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang and it’s not a one-year deal.

“So they can get all excited about Garage 56. I almost see that as a marketing exercise for NASCAR, but for me, that’s a science project,” Farley continued. “I don’t live in a world of science projects. I live in the world of building a vital company that everyone is excited about. To do that, we’re not going to do a Garage 56 – I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year.”

Ford’s announcement comes on the heels of General Motors changing its GT3 strategy next season and ending its factory Corvette program. GM, which unlike Ford competes in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype division (with its Cadillac brand), will shift fully to a customer model for Corvettes in 2024 (with some factory support in the IMSA GTD Pro category).