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2022 Hangtown Motocross | Race Report & Results


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The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship hit Northern California for the second race of the schedule, the 2022 Hangtown Motocross. The day in Rancho Cordova featured overcast skies and cool temperatures, weather conditions that kept moisture in the constantly-refined topsoil and allowed for excellent racing in the afternoon’s four motos. We’re starting to get a sense of who is for real in 250 and 450 Classes this summer. 


This might have been Jett Lawrence’s toughest, but most rewarding race yet. The Team Honda HRC rider came into the weekend under the weather, the effects of which were talked about through the morning and made most apparent in 250 Moto One, but put together 3-1 finishes and added more points to his championship total.

Lawrence looked like he was conserving energy in the morning’s practice sessions, and although he was second fastest in the class, he didn’t charge the track with the usually intensity or put in as many fast laps as some of the other rider.

A sixth place start put Lawrence among the leaders in 250 Moto One, a thirty-minute run that saw him make passes on Romano, Hammaker, Swoll, and brother Hunter in the first half, then hold onto third place through resilient riding despite “going flat” in the second half.

Lawrence put himself in the right place at the perfect time in 250 Moto Two. An excellent drive out of the gate put him even with Justin Cooper as the two barrelled into the first turn, and when Cooper made an early mistake exiting a corner, Lawrence took advantage of the opportunity and went on to lead all sixteen laps. 

The defending champion is now eleven points ahead in the standings. 


A subpar season opener gave Justin Cooper and Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha plenty to sort out. While many were quick to assume that the rider’s lack of pace was due to his time off with a foot injury, those in the group knew the issue was with the setup of the YZ250F, and they went a completely different direction for the second round. It worked. Cooper’s 2:05.812 was the fastest of all in the morning’s practice session, 250 and 450, and was the only rider to put in a sub 2:06 time.

Cooper carried that speed into the afternoon’s races. A holeshot in 250 Moto One, his second of the summer, put him at the front of the pack for the first five laps, but he couldn’t hold off a hard-charging Michael Mosiman. After the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider took over the top spot, Cooper tucked in behind, maintained a quick pace, and finished a safe second place.

Apart from one mistake, Moto Two was another good showing from the Star Racing rider. He beat Jett Lawrence to holeshot stripe with a show of force and slight elbow through the as turn, then put a very small space between the two. Unfortunately, the error came soon after, when Cooper rode the rear wheel out of a turn and lost momentum, which gave Lawrence the chance he needed to make the pass. Cooper kept the leader in sight for the rest of the race, a gap between them was never more than 2.5 seconds, but he eventually came under fire from Jo Shimoda and Hunter Lawrence, conceded a spot to Lawrence on the final lap. Still, the 2-3 scores were enough for second overall and crucial championship points.


Another race, another hard-fought finish for Hunter Lawrence. The Team Honda HRC rider endured a few ups and downs during the day in Prairie City but made necessary passes at important times to stay on the podium and close to his sibling in the championship. Lawrence’s speed was obvious early in the day, as he stayed among the top-three for all of practice and put in the fastest lap of session two.

A fair start put Lawrence in the top-ten during 250 Moto One, behind a who’s who of factory-backed talent and potential race winners on the opening lap. Although the Lawrence brothers weren’t exactly working together, their combined efforts helped get them through the running order. If Jett passed a rider, Hunter was soon to follow, and they used the tactic on Nick Romano and Seth Hammaker to get into the top-five. An unfortunate small tip-over by Hunter wiped away some of the progress and dropped him back to sixth place, but was able to remount, regroup, and climb back to fourth.

Lawrence was again in the top-ten early in 250 Moto Two. Ranked eighth at the end of lap one, he passed four riders in just as many laps, then got into the top-four at the halfway point. This was a key point for Lawrence, as his improved fitness helped him push forward just as Max Vohland and Nick Romano eased up on their own efforts. Lawrence had a podium spot on lock in the final lap, a third place overall that wouldn’t be improved with another pass, but he still decided to go after Justin Cooper and end the moto in second place.


The talk that “Jason Anderson isn’t an outdoor guy” can stop now, as the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider earned his first outdoor overall win thirteen years into his professional career. Anyone that’s been following along lately knew this result was inevitable, especially with the speed Anderson has displayed during practice motos, the number of people he passed at the opening round, and his remarkable ability to make the roughest tracks look smooth. In fact, the use of that last skill during the tough final practice session is what put him at the top of the Timed Qualifying results for the 450 Class.

Anderson was bar-to-bar with Chase Sexton when the pack filed into the first turn, where his outside line gave Sexton the chance to block and take over the early lead. When Sexton sped off with the lead, Anderson turned his attention to Ken Roczen, a rider known for overpowering intensity early in the race and kept the two-time MX champion at bay for second place. Anderson hit his stride at the ten-minute mark, when a series of fast laps obliterated the five-second gap Sexton had established and put the two rivals within feet of each other. Tight lines helped Anderson get up and down the Hangtown hills better than Sexton, and he made a well-planned pass for the lead with three minutes and two laps to go. Sexton attempted to retake the spot on the last lap, but Anderson rebuffed every move and crossed the finish line less than a half-second ahead.

Anderson couldn’t replicate his start in Moto Two, and instead rounded the first turn outside the top-five, but this gave him the chance to follow Eli Tomac’s wake through the pack. When Tomac got by Ryan Dungey and Antonio Cairoli, Anderson followed immediately after, and was up to fourth place by lap four. Although the rider’s progress seemed to stall out in the middle of the race, he caught a second wind, closed on Ken Roczen, and took third place with a pass like the one he used on Sexton earlier. This might have been the most important moment in the day for Anderson, s it put him back in control of the overall, but he didn’t seem to know it. Instead, Anderson found out he won from a track worker’s acknowledgement after the checkered flag. He is now third overall in the championship, down eighteen points to Sexton.


Chase Sexton had another championship-caliber day at round two. The Team Honda HRC rider came into the weekend with the red plate, a first in his 450 Class career, went 2-2 for second overall, and affirmed his place at the top of the point standings. Is this a sign of things to come?

Sexton’s assertive line in the first turn said a lot about his outlook this summer, as he left Anderson little room and forced the rival to check up ahead of the holeshot stripe. There was an almost-instant 5.8-second gap between himself and the rest, thanks to the stunning 2:09 times he clicked off as others fought for their place in the pack. Slower riders seemed to be an issue for Sexton at the second round, though, as difficulties getting through traffic is what helped Anderson close in and eventually caused Sexton to run into a back marker. The loss of the lead prompted a late-race charge, but it was thwarted when Anderson used another lapper as a buffer at the top of the hill.

Sexton was just as strong in the second moto, when another good start put him alongside Ken Roczen and Antonio Cairoli in the top-three, passes got him by the two world champions, and fast laps put him a few seconds ahead by the ten-minute mark. Unfortunately, his bid for the win would be rebuffed by lapped traffic and hard-charging veteran Eli Tomac. Pressure from the multi-time champion caused Sexton to push and plow by anyone in his way, including another back marker, but it wasn’t enough to hold onto the top spot. Although Sexton ended up the runner-up, he put a few more points between himself and second-ranked Roczen and will keep the red plate going into round three.


What we wrote about Justin Cooper can go for Eli Tomac, too, because a subpar season opener gave Tomac and Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha plenty to sort out. While many were quick to assume that the rider’s lack of pace was due to his time off with a knee injury, those in the group knew the issue was with the suspension of the YZ450F, and they had a better-balanced bike for the second round.

The first moto wasn’t great, especially by “Tomac at Hangtown” standards. A fifth place start and pass on Aaron Plessinger made it seem like an attack was eminent, but instead, he trudged around for fourteen laps in fourth place. There were highlights to the time on track, including an exciting end of race reel-in of Ken Roczen, but he was two-seconds behind the rider (and 31-seconds behind the winner) at the finish line.

Moto Two was much, much better. Tomac was again among the top-five from the first lap, this time behind Cairoli, Roczen, Sexton, and Dungey, but his intensity and determination seemed much improved. He used a gutsy line in a drop-off corner to get Dungey for fourth, moved by Cairoli a lap later, and got Roczen for second place at the halfway point. The last ten minutes of the race is when Tomac really came to life. While others seemed to struggle on the choppy, rough track, he smashed the YZ450F into the ruts and obliterated the 2.6-second lead Sexton had worked on. The race-deciding pass was equal parts timing and skill; Tomac hammered through the uphill rollers, launched a downhill double, put himself into the preferred line behind Sexton, and made the pass in a flat turn. Tomac held the top spot for the last seven laps, brushed off a charge by Sexton, and earned his first MX win on the blue bike.

Michael Antonovich

Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.

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