The first moto of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Round 12 at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif. told the story of the 2022 season as Eli Tomac and Chase Sexton finished nose-to-tail in that race with a more than one minute gap on the field.
Other riders have won the occasional moto and when Tomac and Sexton struggled unaccustomedly, they were even capable of winning an overall, but between the two championship contenders, they won 22 of 24 motos and finished 1-2 on 17 occasions.
The swapped the red plate in three of the five rounds heading into the season finale and stayed within a point of one another for most of that time.
When the checkers waved over Moto 2 of Round 12, Tomac easily won the overall with a pair of race wins, but the drama never evaporated.
Sexton took the early lead in Moto 1, but Tomac stayed on his back tire. They were evenly matched for most of the race until the pair caught traffic, and with typically bad starts throughout the season, Tomac had the advantage navigating these rolling obstacles. Tomac pounced on Sexton but could not create much separation until a slight bobble by the Honda in the closing laps gave Tomac a two-second gap on his Yamaha.
For Tomac, the race was about pressure release. Trailing Sexton halfway through Moto 1, a loss would mean he would most likely be forced to win the second race to maintain his one-point advantage. And Sexton’s bobble also took the pressure off the Race 1 win.
In fact, it shifted the pressure to Sexton. In Moto 2, both riders had modest starts, but Sexton overcame his early and climbed to third with Tomac in eighth. Sexton crashed before the halfway point to allow Tomac to slip past and maintain the head-to-head advantage for the remainder of the day.
“I think of this whole season as its entirety, it’s been the most enjoyable year by far of my career,” Tomac told MavTV’s Jason Thomas. “I had so much fun doing it. Starting with Supercross and now Motocross. The competition was unbelievable from Chase. He is the next 450 guy, hands down. We pushed ourselves to the limit. I feel like when even raised the bar this year.”
Sexton’s second accident came later on the same lap as his first. He regained his mount and rode like he had nothing to lose.
With 11 minutes remaining on the clock, Sexton caught Tomac again and was about to pass him, which would have forced the eventual champion into a defensive mode. Then Sexton hit the ground for the third time.
“That was a never quit attitude all year,” Sexton said. “Eli is so tough and he obviously got the upper hand with me.
“That second moto was frustrating. I knew I had to pass Eli and try to get to the front. I fell three times. We have to stop with those mistakes, but it’s been an awesome summer. I’ve made some big strides. I feel like I’m a different person than I was when we started.”
Winning the second moto provided bookends for Tomac’s career. He won his first Motocross race in 2010 at Hangtown. Tomac has announced he will race Supercross only in 2023 and, if he does not change his mind, this will be his last race in the outdoor season. This is 45th overall win, which puts him fourth on the all-time list.
The defending champion of the Monster Energy Supercross series, Tomac is the first rider to sweep the titles since Ryan Dungey won both in 2015. This is Tomac’s fourth Motocross title with other championships coming in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Fittingly, Jason Anderson finished third overall with a 3-3. Anderson is the only other rider to win multiple overall races this season with victories in Round 2 at Hangtown and Round 10 two weeks at Budds Creek.
With a 3-4, Christian Craig finished fourth overall.
Justin Barcia was fifth with a 5-6.
450 results (moto finish)
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (1-1)
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-2)
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (4-3)
- Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (3-4)
- Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas (5-6)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (7-7)
- Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, Mo., KTM (6-8)
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (10-5)
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (8-13)
- Dean Wilson, Scotland, Husqvarna, (13-9)
450 points standings
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha – 546
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 539
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 440
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 394
- Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha – 373
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plain, Minn., KTM – 359
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 332
- Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas – 303
- Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 218
- Shane McElrath, Cantaon, NC, Husqvarna – 213
— Pro Motocross (@ProMotocross) September 4, 2022
In a 250 season dominated by Jett Lawrence, it is fitting that he finished 1-2 at Fox Raceway to score his ninth overall win in Motocross Round 12 while Tomac waited anxiously in the pit area to contest the razor thin championship in 450s.
Lawrence entered the weekend with a substantial lead in the points and needed to finish only 12th to wrap up the title. That was not the way the rider who led this division since winning the opening round on this same track wanted to take the title, though.
In May, Lawrence finished 1-1 to earn maximum points. His brother Hunter Lawrence and Jo Shimoda rounded out the podium. Those three riders would continue to be the class leaders as the field battled for fourth in the standings.
At Fox Raceway, Jett left nothing to the imagination. He grabbed the holeshot and early lead in Moto 1, but was in a tricky position of needing to balance caution with his desire to win.
“I’m just glad it wasn’t like last year’s last round,” Lawrence said after the second moto was in the books and he was awarded the No. 1 plate. “Thankfully I didn’t see the ground much. I did over jump (at one point) and thought my eye popped out.
“In the second one I got a good start like the first one, but me and [Seth] Hammaker banged bars a little bit, but I was able to pull out a little bit. I had that Dunlop paddle tire so I really pulled. I tried to get into second spot, but Jo just put on the boost and he was out of there.”
Jett did not ride away from Shimoda in Moto 1, but he had an ulterior motive. While he was safe with the championship lead, Hunter and Shimoda were embroiled in a tight battle for second.
“In the first [race] I was trying to use the least amount of energy possible,” Jett said. “I tried to play around with Jo a little and let Hunter catch up; I could see him in the background.”
Jett successfully held Shimoda up and allowed Hunter to catch the pair. An aggressive pass by Hunter sent Shimoda to the ground, but the Japanese rider remounted and finish fourth. He was not happy with the move.
“I don’t know about the pass,” Shimoda said. “I don’t think you could call it a clean pass. He put me over the berm and it hurt my shoulder a little bit and that kind of made me a little pissed off, so in the second moto I just got a start and charged to the end.”
Hunter finished second in Moto 1, but was unable to mount up for the second race and settled for ninth overall.
Justin Cooper finished third in both races to score his fifth podium of the season.
RJ Hampshire finished fourth overall with a 7-4.
Marvin Musquin made his first Motocross start of 2022 as a warmup for his effort to help France win the MX of Nations. He rode well in the first moto and was comfortably in third until he steered off course at the 18-minute mark. He finished fifth in that race and seventh in Moto 2 for fifth overall.
250 results (moto finish)
- Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-2)
- Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (4-1)
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Yamaha (3-3)
- RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (7-4)
- Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (5-7)
- Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM (12-5)
- Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki (8-11)
- Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (14-6)
- Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (2-DNS)
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., KTM (13-12)
250 points standings
- Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 525
- Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 480
- Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 452
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY – 415
- RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 346
- Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 304
- Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha – 253
- Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Penn., Kawasaki – 242
- Michael Mosiman, Sebastapol, Calif., GasGas – 208
- Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GasGas, 196
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
Round 9, Unadilla: Sexton retakes points’ lead by one with back-to-back wins
Round 10, Budds Creek: Anderson wins as points lead swaps for third time in four weeks
Round 11, Ironman: Nothing changes as Tomac and Sexton split motos again