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Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing's Eli Tomac returned to his winning ways, holding firm through a dramatic Round 5 of the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Team Honda HRC's Chase Sexton had the lead in his sights but had to settle for second inside NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Houston has hosted a round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series for 46 years. NRG Stadium lights up during opening ceremonies. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jason Anderson took the final podium position in the event that paid points to both the 17-round Supercross season as well as the inaugural 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship. In the opening round of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class, Team Honda HRC's Hunter Lawrence earned the win with a performance that should have his competition worried.
Eli Tomac looked to be in trouble early in the Houston Main Event but found more speed to earn his third win of the 2023 season. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
When the gate dropped for the 450SX Class Main Event, defending champion Eli Tomac jumped out into the lead with Red Bull KTM's Aaron Plessinger pressuring him from the start. But 3:25 into the 20-minute plus one lap race, a crashed rider necessitated a red flag and a temporary stop to the action. The rules called for a unique staggered re-start. The racers were lined up, one after the other according to their race order, then thrown back into battle with the wave of a green flag. The starting position order was Tomac, Plessinger, Anderson, Sexton, and Red Bull KTM's Cooper Webb, but once back underway Anderson quickly took over second place. Sexton was around Plessinger shortly after and with 13:05 remaining on the race clock Sexton got into the second-place spot.
Premiere class athletes staged for the staggered start after a red flag stopped the race due to a downed racer. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
After Sexton had demonstrated his speed on the Houston track by qualifying first by over a full second, and also catching and beating Tomac in their Heat Race, it looked like the Texas crowd would see a fight for the lead. But Tomac found some extra speed; he put in laps fast enough to stave off Sexton's early charge. The gap between the two was 1.6 seconds, but soon Sexton was putting in the fastest laps of any rider on the track. When the clock ticked past 6:30 remaining, Sexton had whittled the lead down to just half a second and appeared to be looking for a line around Tomac.
But Tomac held tough. The two-time and defending Supercross champion didn't falter under the pressure. After about one lap with Sexton right on him, Tomac pulled back out enough breathing room to ride his own lines. Behind them, Anderson and Plessinger held steady while Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing's Justin Barcia found a way around Cooper Webb for fifth, yet Webb took the spot back before the checkered flag. Tomac scored his third win of 2023 and stretched out his points lead. Sexton nearly backed up his win from the previous round; he kept the bike on two wheels and earned second place points, securing second in the 17-round championship standings.
Hunter Lawrence (96), the favorite going into the opening Eastern Regional 250SX Class round, established himself as the racer to beat with a convincing win. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
In Eastern Regional 250SX Class racing Hunter Lawrence grabbed the Holeshot but within a few turns Frenchman Red Bull KTM's Tom Vialle slid from third into the lead. Vialle, the two-time and reigning MXGP MX2 class Motocross World Champion, found himself leading not only his first Monster Energy AMA Supercross, but his first race ever in America. Hunter fought back on the opening lap but misjudged his launch off a triple jump and sent his Honda off the track. Lawrence made an incredible high-speed save through the track-lining Tuff Blox and rejoined the race only losing one position.
Team Honda HRC's Chance Hymas found himself in second place. The Rookie put immediate pressure on Vialle. But before two minutes had run off the clock in the 15-minute plus one lap Main Event Lawrence had re-taken second from Hymas. Shortly after that pass Hymas had trouble and Fire Power Honda's Max Anstie took over the third place spot with Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha's Jeremy Martin, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing's Jordon Smith, and rookie Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing's Haiden Deegan right behind. Deegan was in his first pro race after competing in the SX Futures class just one week prior.
Smith reeled in Anstie and pressured for the position until he crashed in the sand. With five minutes left on the race clock the top three seemed comfortably in their spots. It was an Australian, Brit, and a Frenchman looking to make the opening Eastern Regional race an international podium. But in the final laps Smith put on a charge, getting around Martin right before Vialle crashed in one of the track's bowl turns. Martin then crashed on the final lap, and the opening round of the Eastern Regional Series ended with Lawrence crossing the finish line in first, Anstie in second, Smith earning a hard-fought third place, and Haiden Deegan grabbing fourth in his first professional race.
The racers face off again next weekend at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida for Round 6 of the 450SX Class and the second round of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class. The event pays points to each class for both the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season as well as towards the ultimate title, the 2023 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship series which combines Supercross, Pro Motocross, and two SMX Playoffs and Final for an all-new title with a $10 million-dollar total purse.
All 2023 Monster Energy Supercross and SuperMotocross World Championship series rounds are available to watch live on Peacock. Select races are also broadcast on NBC, USA Network, and CNBC. For highlight videos and more information on the racers, results, and tickets to upcoming rounds please visit SupercrossLIVE.com.
450SX Class podium (racers left to right) Chase Sexton, Eli Tomac, and Jason Anderson. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
450SX Class Results
1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha
2. Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda
3. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki
4. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM
5. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM
6. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS
7. Justin Cooper, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha
8. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki
9. Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., Kawasaki
10. Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki
450SX Class Championship Standings
1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (95)
2. Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda (88)
3. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (83)
4. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki (76)
5. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki (73)
6. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (65)
7. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (64)
8. Dylan Ferrandis, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha (56)
9. Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (56)
10. Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., Kawasaki (53)
250SX Class podium (riders left to right) Jordon Smith, Hunter Lawrence, and Max Anstie. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda
2. Max Anstie, Cairo, Ga., Honda
3. Jordon Smith, Ochlocknee, Ga., Yamaha
4. Haiden Deegan, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha
5. Jeremy Martin, Rochester, Minn., Yamaha
6. Michael Mosiman, Minneaola, Fla., GASGAS
7. Tom Vialle, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
8. Chance Hymas, Pocatello, Idaho, Honda
9. Cullin Park, Clermont, Fla., Honda
10. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Kawasaki
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
1. Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (26)
2. Max Anstie, Cairo, Ga., Honda (23)
3. Jordon Smith, Ochlocknee, Ga., Yamaha (21)
4. Haiden Deegan, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha (19)
5. Jeremy Martin, Rochester, Minn., Yamaha (18)
6. Michael Mosiman, Minneaola, Fla., GASGAS (17)
7. Tom Vialle, Murrieta, Calif., KTM (16)
8. Chance Hymas, Pocatello, Idaho, Honda (15)
9. Cullin Park, Clermont, Fla., Honda (14)
10. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Kawasaki (13)