The 2020 AMA Pro Motocross series held its penultimate round this weekend at Lakewood, Colorado’s Thunder Valley Motocross Park, where Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton finished fourth overall via a 2-5 moto tally, while his teammate Christian Craig posted a creditable fifth overall with 7-4 finishes.
Confronting the track’s mile-high altitude, Sexton completed moto one’s first lap in second place, and that’s where he stayed for all 16 laps, hitting the checkered flag less than three seconds behind winner Adam Cianciarulo. Moto two saw him in ninth after lap one, but he advanced steadily until lap 11, when he reached his finishing position of fifth.
Craig enjoyed one of his best races yet in Colorado, finishing in the top five overall. He was hampered by a poor start in the first moto, but he made some good passes to finish seventh. In the second outing, Craig had a decent start and was up to fifth in just two laps. Three laps later he advanced to fourth, his eventual finishing position.
Unlike the hot, humid weather conditions the series experienced in Florida last weekend, Thunder Valley Motocross Park featured perfect fall temperatures, making ideal conditions for round eight.
A limited number of tickets were made available for the Thunder Valley Pro Motocross National, and they sold out in short order. As at previous rounds, fans were not permitted in the pro paddock, in order to comply with social-distancing protocols.
The State of Colorado did not require all event attendees to be tested for COVID-19, although everyone needed to pass a health screening prior to entering the premises, similar to previous rounds. Event rules continued to enforce the use of face masks at all times, except for riders when wearing a helmet. Media interview opportunities were once again permitted in the pro paddock at the sole discretion of each individual team/rider, but all parties had to wear masks, even during filming.
MX Sports Pro Racing and AMA officials reported being impressed by the positivity most have exhibited this season, with officials praising the teams for faithfully following the COVID-19-related guidelines throughout the entire series.
Due to several riders flying home following Saturday’s race, the top three finishers in each class and additional requested riders (including Sexton and Craig) were allowed to choose from two virtual post-race press conferences–one Saturday evening or a second one on Monday evening. Sexton participated via Zoom on Saturday, while Craig planned to join Monday’s conference.
Sexton posted the third-fastest lap of qualifying, at 2’07.107”. Craig finished the sessions with a fourth-best time of 2’07.408”.
GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin turned in a solid ride in the 250 class, with 4-2 moto results placing him third overall. Martin finished lap one of the first outing in seventh, and he moved up three spots by moto’s end for fourth. Moto two saw Martin push to the front of the pack, where he battled with Justin Cooper for the lead, but he wasn’t able to make a pass stick and finished in the runner-up spot. Teammates Hunter Lawrence, Jett Lawrence and Jo Shimoda were fifth through seventh overall, while Carson Mumford rounded out the top 10. With one round remaining, Martin is second in points, with a narrow chance still left at taking the title.
With eight of the nine AMA Pro Motocross rounds now in the books, the 2020 season will conclude this Saturday, with Team Honda HRC’s home race at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.
Chase Sexton 23
“Round eight in Denver was pretty good. In the first moto I ran behind Adam [Cianciarulo] and tried to make a push for the win and ended up second, which was my best moto finish so far. I had a really good start in the second moto and finished fifth; I didn’t ride as well as I wanted but ended with fourth overall, so still top five. We’re making improvements.”
Christian Craig 62
“The day started off good in Colorado. I qualified fourth, which was one of my best of the year. I felt good on the bike and on this track, so I went into the motos pretty confident. Unfortunately, I got off to a bad start, which has kind of been my story all year; I had to make some passes and got up to seventh, tagging along with [Marvin] Musquin for the whole moto pretty much. In the second moto, I got off to a better start, top-five off the line. I battled with some guys, made a couple passes and ended up fourth. It’s exactly what we’ve worked for. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win, but to improve is what we look for every weekend. I ended up with 7-4 for fifth overall and am headed to the final round ready to go.”
“Overall it was a good day for the team, with the cooler weather and hard-packed track conditions in Colorado. Chase and Christian showed good speed all day to realize our goal of putting both riders in the top five overall. Chase was a strong second in the first moto but tangled with another rider on the start in moto two, although he still managed a fifth-place finish for fourth overall. Christian was consistent and posted his best overall 450MX finish in this series so far.”
Mechanic (Chase Sexton)
“Time qualifications went pretty good, and going into moto one we had a good game plan for where Chase wanted to start on the gate. He and Cianciarulo came out first and second, and Chase rode flawlessly with great lines, coming up a tad short to finish with a strong second place. In the second moto, he had a bad start and worked his way up from 11th to fifth. We came up just short of the overall podium, but we’re going to head back to California and do some testing with Chase. We’re looking forward to racing at Pala and finishing the season on a high note.”
Mechanic (Christian Craig)
“It was good to have a day where we could get Christian up front in that second moto, where he belongs. I knew this track would suit him well, and today was just about trying to capitalize on that. I was really happy with the way he rode all day, and he almost ended up on that podium in the second moto. Pala should be good for him as well, and I look forward to closing out the season up front again.”