PALA, Calif. — After 12 rounds of travel across the country and 24 hotly contested motos over the course of the summer, the 50th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, came to a dramatic conclusion from the proverbial home of the industry in Southern California.
Champions were crowned at the PristineAuction.com Fox Raceway II National, presented by Fox Racing, where the historic showdown between Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Eli Tomac and Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton culminated with another memorable battle, from which Tomac prevailed following a 1-1 effort, to hoist the Edison Dye Cup for the first time since 2019 and secure the fourth 450 Class title of his decorated career.
In the 250 Class, Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence captured an exclamation point victory to successfully defend his hold of the Gary Jones Cup and secure back-to-back championships to further solidify his role as the sport’s youngest star.
450 Class (Moto 1)
Extreme heat protocols were implemented for the races, which shortened each moto in both classes to 25 minutes plus two laps. As the field stormed out the gate to open 450 Class Moto 1 it was Sexton and Tomac at the front, with Sexton grabbing the MotoSport.com Holeshot. The championship rivals set a torrid pace early and easily sprinted away from the field.
The pair traded fast laps as the gap between them ebbed and flowed through various parts of the track, where both riders appeared to have strengths in different sections. Sexton and Tomac opened an advantage of nearly half a minute on the field as the moto reached its halfway point, while the distance between them hovered around a second.
Lapped riders brought the rivals closer together entering the final five minutes and it opened the door for Tomac to take advantage. The Yamaha rider seized the moment and went on the attack to make the pass. Tomac then dropped the hammer and opened a gap of two seconds with three minutes to go.
As they took the two-lap board just 1.5 seconds separated Tomac and Sexton, but a bobble from Sexton allowed Tomac to establish the largest lead of the moto at its most critical juncture. Sexton battled back and closed in, but it was too little too late as Tomac secured his 13th moto win of the season by 1.5 seconds. Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Christian Craig finished third, one minute and 15 seconds behind the leaders, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson fourth and Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia in fifth.
450 Class (Moto 2)
The final moto of the 2022 season had everything on the line and as the field exited the first turn it was Craig who came away with the MotoSport.com Holeshot, followed by Anderson and Sexton. Tomac was forced to work his way forward from a start deep in the top 10. In his pursuit of Anderson for second during the opening laps, Sexton suffered a bobble that shot him off track and caused him to tip over. He lost multiple positions and reentered the race right behind Tomac, in seventh. Sexton then tipped over again and lost another position.
Out front, the battle for the lead heated up between Anderson and Craig. The Kawasaki rider got alongside the Yamaha and made a savvy move to take the lead a little more than five minutes into the moto. Behind this exchange Tomac was able to break into the top three, while Sexton was on a recovery charge and clawed his way up to fourth. Tomac closed quickly on Craig, his teammate, and moved into second with ease. At that point, Tomac faced a 2.8 second deficit to Anderson. Needing to make a push, Sexton closed in on Craig for third but suffered another tip over. He remounted without losing a position.
As the moto surpassed the halfway point the battle for the lead was on between Anderson and Tomac. Despite having a faster pace, Tomac was unable to get enough of an edge to make a move. A slight miscue by Anderson saw him briefly put the bike in neutral, which allowed Tomac to slip past and seize control of the moto with six minutes to go. Sexton’s fight continued as well with a pass on Craig for third. From there, the Honda rider tried to track down the lead duo.
With the lead in hand, Tomac opened up a lead of more than six seconds as Anderson started to lose ground to Sexton for second. The Honda rider was decisive and made the pass, but faced too big of a deficit to contend for the lead. Tomac brought home an emphatic final moto win by 9.2 seconds over Sexton, with Anderson in third.
Tomac’s fourth 1-1 performance of the season was his biggest as he finished the year with a class-leading fifth victory, his first since the seventh round. His third win at Fox Raceway was the 32nd victory of his career and marked his 70th career podium finish, which moved him into second all-time. Sexton’s runner-up finish came on the heels of a hard-earned 2-2 effort, while Anderson’s strong final moto landed him third overall (4-3).
Tomac’s 11-race podium streak to close out the season and his 14 moto wins were the tipping point in the championship, where he finished seven points ahead of Sexton in the final standings in what has been the closest battle in the history of Pro Motocross. Anderson enjoyed a career-best season to finish third on the championship podium. Tomac’s title, combined with his Monster Energy Supercross Championship from earlier this year, also made him the first rider to sweep the season championships since Ryan Dungey did it during the 2015 season. The fourth premier class title of Tomac’s career is also the second most in history, trailing only Ricky Carmichael (7).
“I just think of this whole season in its entirety,” Tomac said. “It’s been the most enjoyable season of my career, by far, starting with supercross and now motocross. This summer was incredible battling with Chase (Sexton). He’s the future of this division. We pushed ourselves to the limits (all summer) and even raised the bar.”
250 Class (Moto 1)
The first 250 Class moto of the afternoon got underway with Jett Lawrence leading the field through the first turn for the MotoSport.com Holeshot, followed closely by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda. The close friends engaged in a spirited battle on the opening lap as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin slotted into third in his first start in the division since the 2015 season.
Lawrence continued to control the moto from the lead through the opening five minutes, but Shimoda was able to keep him honest with consistent lap times. Musquin settled into third but eventually faced a challenge from Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence. A small miscue forced Musquin off the track, which handed the position to Lawrence. Back up front, Jett Lawrence stabilized a lead hovering around two seconds over Shimoda as the moto reached its halfway point.
As the moto entered its final 10 minutes Shimoda picked up the pace and closed the deficit by a second with the fastest laps on the track. The Japanese rider began looking for a way around with alternate lines and soon found himself all over the rear fender of the Honda. As they played cat and mouse with one another it allowed Hunter Lawrence to close in from third and make it a three-rider battle with three minutes to go. Less than a second separated the top three as time ran out on the moto and set the stage for a thrilling battle to the finish.
With two laps to go, Hunter Lawrence pulled the trigger with a pass on Shimoda as they descended one of the track’s downhills. It resulted in hard contact between the two riders and sent Shimoda to the ground as Lawrence continued on in second. Shimoda remounted in third but was forced to fend off Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper from fourth.
The Lawrence brothers went head-to-head on the final lap as Jett narrowly held off Hunter by a mere four tenths of a second for his 11th moto win of the season, which also clinched the championship. Cooper made the pass on Shimoda for third, while Musquin rounded out the top five.
250 Class (Moto 2)
The final 250 Class moto of the season started with Cooper at the head of the pack with the MotoSport.com Holeshot, with Shimoda and his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Cameron McAdoo in pursuit, with Jett Lawrence in fourth. Shimoda bided his time and waited for an opening. Once it appeared he wasted no time in making the move and grabbed control of the moto a little more than four minutes into the race.
Once he had the lead in hand, Shimoda began to build a gap on Cooper that soon grew to more than five seconds. Behind him, Cooper was forced to fend off Lawrence, who made the pass on McAdoo and looked to continue his push forward. The champ chipped away at the deficit and closed in on the Yamaha at the halfway point of the moto. He made quick work of Cooper and took control of second. With a little more than 11 minutes to go the gap between Shimoda and Lawrence was more than nine seconds.
Just as it appeared as though Lawrence had control of the runner-up spot, Cooper mounted a counter attack to reignite the battle for the position. With Shimoda well in control of the moto, this battle became the focal point of the closing minutes.
Back up front, Shimoda was in a class of his own and rebounded from the frustrating end to the first moto to earn his fifth moto win of the season by 24.3 seconds over Lawrence, who kept Cooper at bay through to the finish.
Lawrence’s 1-2 effort carried him to his ninth win of the summer, tied for third most in a single season, and the 14th victory of his career, which moves the young Australian into a tie for eighth on the all-time wins list. It also signified the sixth different moto score combination that has carried him to victory this season and maintained Lawrence’s undefeated record at Fox Raceway, where he now has five wins. Shimoda followed with his ninth overall podium result of the season in second (4-1) and ended the year with four straight finishes on the box. Cooper’s solid afternoon landed him third overall (3-3) for the landmark 30th podium result of his career, good enough to move into a tie for ninth on the all-time podiums list.
Lawrence’s final championship margin was 45 points over Shimoda, while Hunter Lawrence completed the championship podium in third following a fourth-place finish (2-5) in the finale. Jett Lawrence is 12th two-time champion in the history of the division and the first to earn back-to-back titles since Jeremy Martin in 2014-2015.
“It was a lot better today than last year (trying to wrap up the title). I just wanted to use the least amount of energy possible today,” Lawrence said. “I got into second as soon as I could (in Moto 2) and tried to catch Jo (Shimoda), but it didn’t happen, so I just decided to settle into second.”