Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence became the first athlete to win his first 450SX Class Main Event with a decisive victory at the opening round of the 17-round 2024 Monster Energy Supercross season.
“It’s an unreal thing to kinda grasp,” said Aussie Lawrence. “Really, because you just think with how many years this sport’s been around you’d have thought someone has done it before. But it’s cool that it took that many years for someone to do it.
“I’m definitely grateful and I’m happy to do it for Honda and Red Bull. They’ve been behind me for a very long time now so it’s good to give back in that type of way and get up in the history books for them.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson earned second place on his CP-Carrillo powered machine. “I definitely didn’t want him [Cooper Webb] to pass me [for second], so I think we kind of slowed our pace down trying to have that battle for a second and let Jett get that little three-second gap,” said Anderson. “But at the same time I [made a few] mistakes and stuff like that, and Cooper was able to get on me and be able to get close enough to make that pass. But I think me, Coop, and Jett, for a good 15 minutes of that moto were pretty even. It was tough to make time.” Webb eventually crashed out of second place.
Red Bull KTM’s Chase Sexton earned the final podium spot in the first race of the year that marks the 50th anniversary season of AMA Supercross. “I come out here to win and be up front, so not only Jett, but everybody else, I gotta go out there and race as hard as I can and try and win,” said Sexton. “But I’m happy to be on the podium. It wasn’t, like I said, my best riding, but it’s a long season; and like last year shows, you gotta be there for every race.
“I feel like my consistency is better this year, I just gotta get a little bit more speed. I had really good speed last year and now we gotta get that back and we’ll be in a good spot.”
In the opening round of the Western Regional 250SX Class RJ Hampshire racked up first place points and the early-season lead. “I know how fast it can change and how up and down it is,” said Hampshire. “Stay level headed and take next weekend the same as we took this weekend. Stay in the fight, give myself a chance. If the win’s there, awesome, if not, take what the night gives me. I’m just trying to enjoy this. Especially enjoy an Anaheim 1 victory, which was massive.”
Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Jordon Smith battled up to a second place. “RJ had a pretty big lead by the time I got into second,” said Smith. “It was tough to get that long rhythm, but I mainly wasn’t focused on going for the win. I was just focused on putting my laps in, just trying to stay focused in the whoops. They were not hard tonight but they got tricky in the Main Event. They were pretty tore-up.”
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Levi Kitchen brought home the third place spot for his new team for 2024. The day started really well for Kitchen, who topped the charts in qualifying to take the pole position. In his heat race, he had a great jump and funneled in just behind his teammate, but he got caught in a rut and went down early but eventually raced himself back into a transfer position in seventh. Even with the lower gate pick, Kitchen launched out the of the main event gate drop and found himself in third after settling in the first two laps. He kept the pace high, and although he seemed to tighten up and fall back a few spots, Kitchen made a late race drive back into third, where he would finish.
“I think I got more in me for sure, but tonight was still positive,” said Kitchen. “To get it back together after that heat race incident, and early on I panicked pretty bad in that main.
“These guys [Hampshire and Smith] were riding really good, too. They blew by me, so I had to regroup, which was a positive for me also. But like RJ said there are ups and downs and it’s a long season, so to get out of here healthy with a podium, I can’t complain.”
Kitchen’s teammate Maximus Vohland earned his first career heat-race win before racing to a notable fifth-place result in the main event, giving the team a positive note to start on for 2024. Vohland got things going in practice with a great pace to qualify fifth. When the gate dropped in his heat race, he was right at the front and passed for the lead on the second lap and took home his first career heat race win.
When the gate dropped for the main event, Vohland was right in the mix at the front and settled into sixth. With not great opportunities to make passes, he waited for the right time and passed into fifth around the halfway mark. He would get up to fourth but eventually moved back into fifth, where he would cross the finish line.
“It was really awesome to get that heat race win,” said Vohland. “I got a great start and made it count. In the main, I got pushed back behind a few guys that were going pretty good and the track was pretty slick. You had to be really smart about where you tried to pass. In the end, a fifth is good, but I want more. I think my speed can get me on the podium and with next week being my local race, I’m excited to get up to San Francisco.”
Round two takes the action to Oracle Park in San Francisco on January 13th. The racing starts earlier this year and the Opening Ceremonies kick-off round two at 8:00 p.m. EST. Every round of the 17-round Monster Energy Supercross season also serves as the first 17 rounds of the 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship. After its launch in 2023, the SuperMotocross League combines the excitement of the 17-round Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, the 11-round AMA Pro Motocross season, two Playoff Rounds, and one Final to crown an overall winner in both the 450SMX and 250SMX Classes.
story, photos and video courtesy of Supercross