2022 Motocross of Nations | Sunday Race Report and Results
Presented by O’Neal
After beautiful weather blessed Red Bud Track N Trail for Saturday’s Motocross of Nations qualifying motos, the skies darkened and opened up Saturday evening. A steady rain fell throughout the night, leaving the track a muddy mess for Sunday’s premier three motos. While the track was an absolute quagmire for the early morning B Final for teams that did not qualify for the main motos, conditions improved slightly for the day’s events as the rain subsided.
RACE 1 MXGP & MX2
When the gate dropped at the start of the first moto of the day. Eli Tomac snagged a rare holeshot and led Jago Geerts, Jeremy Seewer, Maxime Renaux, Hunter Lawrence, and the rest through the first corner. Justin Cooper rounded turn one inside the top 10 on his 250 and things looked promising for Team USA. The track was in surprisingly good shape as the Red Bud Track N Trail crew did a fantastic job of cleaning it up after the messy B Final.
As the race clicked past the 10-minute mark, Tomac enjoyed a two-second lead over Geerts, who in turn enjoyed a small lead over Renaux and Seewer. Evans, Jorge Prado, Antonio Cairoli, Lawrence, Cooper, and Andrea Adamo rounded out the top 10. Within the top riders, the race seemed to be a single-file affair, but as the contest neared the halfway point, Seewer caught fire and began to pressure Renaux for third, providing the most excitement among the front runners. Meanwhile, upfront, backmarkers began to play a role and Tomac saw his lead shrink to only a few bike lengths over Geerts. Tomac sensed his rival’s proximity, however, and extended his lead with a few intense corners.
As the race entered its final 10 minutes, Seewer made a mistake and tipped over in a corner. Though he maintained his position behind Renaux and ahead of Evans, he was now alone on the track And speaking of the track, though no more rain fell from the skies, the course conditions deteriorated greatly, with massive ruts all around the course. Tomac, however, began to feel more and more comfortable as the track shaped up and sent LaRocco’s Leap for the first time with only three minutes left on the clock.
At the checkered flag, Tomac came home with a comfortable lead over Geerts, Renaux, Seewer, Evans, Prado, Cairoli, Lawrence, Cooper and Kay DeWolf of the Netherlands.
After one moto, Team USA led the way with 10 points, slightly ahead of Team Australia with 13. Belgium followed with 14, France was fourth with 17, while defending champions Italy were fifth with 22.
“When I got the holeshot, it was all about having a clean track,” said Tomac. “I felt Geerts get close at one point and that motivated me to turn it back up. That’s what kept me in the lead.”
RACE 2 MX2 & MX3
The skies opened back up as the second moto of the day got underway, and rain would most certainly play a role in the results to follow. Italian Mattia Guadagnini snagged a big holeshot when. the gate dropped, with American Chase Sexton and Australian Jett Lawrence in tow. Cooper led the MX2 division with a remarkable fourth-place start and had Hunter Lawrence close behind. A spill on the opening lap, though, knocked Hunter down to 19th, and he spent the remainder of the race working back through the field.
As the race neared the 1/3 mark, the top riders’ running order remained unchanged, with Guadagnini leading Sexton and Lawrence, with Cooper all alone in fourth. Lawrence closed in on Sexton repeatedly, but small mistakes would allow the American to pull back away every time. Just past the halfway mark, Sexton got a huge drive up an off-camber uphill section and flew past the Italian and into the lead. Only a few seconds later, Guadagnini sent LaRocco’s Leap, closed back in on Sexton, and reclaimed the lead when the American bobbled in a corner just before the finish line jump. Sexton did his best to retake the lead, but Guadagnini successfully blocked his every attempt. This allowed Lawrence to close in, and he stole the runner-up position in the same section of the track that Guadagnini had passed Sexton in one lap earlier. Lawrence wasted little time reeling in the leader and he stole. the point position with a masterful outside/inside line in a fast, sweeping corner. Once out front, Lawrence checked out aboard his Honda HRC machine.
Sexton finally overtook the quick-starting Italian with seven minutes left on the clock, but with that Sexton would be set in second as Lawrence was too far gone. After succumbing to Sexton, Guadagnini found himself under attack from the other American, as Cooper closed in and began to challenge him to the third position aboard his YZ250F. No position changes would emerge in the closing laps, though, and Lawrence scored a commanding win over Sexton, Guadagnini, Cooper, Ruben Fernandes, and Dylan Ferrandis, who turned in a hell of a ride after crashing in the first corner with a host of other riders..
“I was so excited for this,” said Lawrence. “That one took e a while. I made a few mistakes and had to back it down to find my pace. I had a great time out there and can’t wait to get back out there.”
After the second moto, Team USA sat on top with 16 points, leading Australia with 24, and France with 32. That, however, was with all four moto scores tallied up. At the day’s end, the team’s worst moto score is eliminated, and doing so with two of the three motos run would close the gap between the USA and Australia.
RACE 3 MXGP & MX3
Tensions were high as the riders lined up for the third and final race. When the gate dropped, Reneaux and Ferrandis rocketed off the line and led the field onto the track. Geerts went down in turn two and caused a bit of a traffic jam, and this robbed Tomac of a solid start and forced him to start the race around 15th. Sexton, meanwhile, held down third behind the French duo, and ahead of Prado and Evans. Things for the Australian team took a turn for the worse when Evans fell on the first lap and lost a ton of positions, leaving Lawrence carrying the hopes of the team on his shoulder as he ran sixth.
Up front, Ferrandis rode a fantastic race and quickly began to pull away from his teammate Renaux, who was being stalked by Sexton. The American sent LaRocco’s Leap about eight minutes into the race and closed to the Frenchman’s rear wheel, looking for a way past and into second. Tomac, meanwhile, was on a tear and moved into seventh before the race was one-third done. A few moments later, Ferrandis made a big mistake and crashed out of the lead and struggled to pick his bike up and rejoin the race after several riders motored past, in sixth. The rider on the move in the front of the pack was Lawrence, as the young Australian moved past Seewer and Prado with relative ease and into third. Lawrence set a blistering pace and closed in on the lead duo rather quickly.
Rain began to fall again as the race approached its final 10 minutes, but that did not slow Lawrence’s charge as he found his way past Sexton and set out after Renaux. Lawrence looked as if he could make the pass, but heavier rainfall and lappers played a big role in his inability to make the pass. At the line, it was Renaux five seconds clear of Lawrence, followed closely by Sexton, then Ferrandis, Seewer, and Tomac. Renaux’s 3-1 secured the MXGP overall win, while Lawrence’s showing wrapped up the MX3 division overall.
“The dry spell is over!” said Tomac. “It’s so cool to do this on home turf. So proud of Chase and Justin. This feels great! I know these don’t come easy and they don’t come often. At the beginning of the day and the beginning of the weekend, we all had a great feeling. There was a great team atmosphere and this was an awesome one to win!”
“This whole weekend has really been a dream come true,” said Sexton. “This is also my birthday and it couldn’t be better. It was a nerve-wracking race, and I just couldn’t wait to get across the finish line!”
“Everything came together for us,” said Cooper. “We had six solid motos as a team and I would never take this for granted. The crowd was behind us the whole time. This was long overdue and I am proud of all of us for holding up.”
The win was the 23rd Motocross of Nations win for Team USA.