2022 AMA Pro Motocross Recap: Unadillaby Jack Gaffney August 14, 2022 0 comments
Two weeks of vacation are now in the books and the AMA Pro Motocross season is back for the final stretch of the year. Kicking things off would be one of the crown jewels of American Motocross in the hills of Unadilla, New York. A track that has been a staple for a half-century and has previously hosted MXGP rounds back in the day. This track has also not been too kind in the past to 450 class points leader Eli Tomac, who has zero career National wins, and some overall tough outs here on a 450. He would need to buck that trend to hold off Chase Sexton, who was breathing right down his neck in the points.
Now to the Lawrence brothers in the 250 class. Hunter needs some 1-1 days or for Jett to start messing up and he needs it now. Entering Saturday, he sits 28 points back with six Motos remaining. 2-3s simply aren’t going to cut it at this point, Jett has found ways to win just about every time this year. Can Hunter flip the script?
Be sure to keep up with all of our Motocross coverage.
Everyone is Back
When I say everyone is back, that is not hyperbole. That starts with reigning 450 National Motocross Champion Dylan Ferrandis. If you recall, he suffered a thumb injury under 72 hours before Pala 1, forcing himself to miss the first eight rounds. If you are asking why he would come back this late in the season, perhaps the biggest reason is Motocross Des Nations. On past precedent, Kawasaki (Europe) hasn’t been keen on sending their riders to the event. This would make 2015 MXGP Romain Febvre a non-option for team France, and open the door wide open for Ferrandis. Worth noting as well that the French team’s announcement was recently delayed as well.
Others who returned to the track this weekend were the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna duo of Malcolm Stewart and Dean Wilson. For Stewart, this was his first Motocross National in nearly a decade. Before his latest contract, he has exclusively been Supercross only since 2015. For Wilson, these will be his final races with the team, as he will most likely move to Firepower/Genuine Honda, beginning with World Supercross later this year. Those two moves also forced out Shane McElrath, but the good news for him is that ClubMX Yamaha brought him on board during the break.
Down to the 250 class, returning riders included Cameron McAdoo, Nick Romano, and Ryder DiFrancesco. The latter of which is fresh off his final stint at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, where a DNF in 250 Pro Sport Moto 3 cost him the Championship. In addition, DiFrancesco also finished fifth in Open Pro Sport. Finally, Antonio Cairoli is indeed coming back starting next week at Budds Creek.
Deegan is Coming
Slightly earlier than expected, but the much-anticipated debut of Star Yamaha prospect Haiden Deegan is also coming soon. Not a full-time switch to pro riding yet, but he will most likely be lining up at Ironman in a couple of weeks. This more or less hinges on Deegan getting enough ‘Pro-Am’ points this and next weekend, but that shouldn’t be an issue. This will be a very interesting opportunity to gauge Deegan against pro-level talent. However, he is only 16.5 years old, this isn’t a make-or-break set of races for him and shouldn’t be treated as such by anyone.
No. 30 Jo Shimoda – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki (1-3 for First Overall)
Add another victory for the Jo Shimoda Agenda™ on Saturday. Slipping through the cracks early in Moto 1, he raised anchor and quickly put up a double-digit second gap on the field en route to an easy win. Very impressive stuff despite all the chaos that went down behind him. Despite starting outside the top five in Moto 2, Shimoda was able to take his time getting into third. his teammate McAdoo made his final pass a bit tough, but ultimately the No. 30 prevailed. That pass ultimately didn’t matter, as a 1-3 was more than enough to win the Overall on a hectic day, good for Shimoda’s second career National victory.
No. 32 Justin Cooper – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (5-1 for Second Overall)
If you’ve read the tea leaves, Cooper may be considered still for the 250 spot on for Team USA in Des Nations. Hard to say if this run for second overall at his home National helped him any with the team announcement coming next week. What can be said however is that a 5-1 with a big Moto 2 win didn’t hurt him any either. If not for his few shortcomings in the opening Moto, Cooper probably comes home with the Overall win today. He did however pass the vibes check after Moto 2, bringing his dog up on the podium stage.
No. 96 Hunter Lawrence – Honda HRC (2-5 for Third Overall)
The good news for Hunter is that he did end the day gaining points on Jett. The bad news is that it was only two points, and it could have been more. Around midway in Moto 2, Lawrence ended up looking a bit off in terms of pace. That ended up being due to an issue with the rear brake. Even though he finished fifth to end his day as opposed to outside the top 10, he had the pace to be a top three finisher. Not to Hunter’s fault, but another second-half of the season blunder proves costly.
No. 1 Jett Lawrence – Honda HRC (7-2 for Fourth Overall)
Not often you can say this, but Jett was struggling big time on track on Saturday. Thrice did he hit the deck at Unadilla, two of those happened in Moto 1. He had as difficult a time trying to get by someone as he’s had this entire year when he got to Romano in Moto 1. Just as he made the pass, he went down and lose a few spots. Later that race he went down again on the rear wheel of his brother Hunter, along with Romano. Jett hit a bad rut and barrel-rolled a few times off track. Even with the second in Moto 2, it wasn’t a clean run, but you take ’em however you can. Lawrence is still in a good spot points wise so no reason to worry just yet.
No. 411 Nick Romano – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (4-9 for Seventh Overall)
The most impressive rider on the day in Unadilla for my money was Romano. A 4-7 for seventh doesn’t raise eyeballs, but you would think his battle with Jett Lawrence did. For a solid five minutes, the defending series Champion couldn’t find a way around the young rookie. He almost got by around the opening corner, but Romano let his YZ250 rip on the outside and beat Lawrence in a drag race down the next straightaway. Legitimately very impressive stuff for another hometown kid from the Star Yamaha stable.
Unadilla National 250 Class Top 10
1st No. 30 Jo Shimoda 1-3
2nd No. 32 Justin Cooper 5-1
3rd No. 96 Hunter Lawrence 2-5
4th No. 1 Jett Lawrence 7-2
5th No. 24 R.J. Hampshire 3-8
6th No. 36 Max Vohland 6-6
7th No. 411 Nick Romano 4-9
8th No. 48 Cameron McAdoo 11-4
9th No. 49 Nate Thrasher 10-7
10th No. 44 Pierce Brown 9-10
250 Class Point Standings After Unadilla
1st No. 1 Jett Lawrence 391 Points
2nd No. 96 Hunter Lawrence 365 Points (-26)
3rd No. 30 Jo Shimoda 351 Points (-40)
4th No. 32 Justin Cooper 316 Points (-75)
5th No. 24 R.J. Hampshire 227 Points (-164)
No. 23 Chase Sexton – Honda HRC (1-1 for First Overall)
For the first time ever in the 450 class, Tomac is being taken into deep waters in a direct title battle. Blake Baggett’s thumb injury had him fade in ’17, then Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen didn’t have anything left in the tank to keep up down the stretch the next two seasons. Sexton is the outlier and now has the points lead with just three rounds remaining in the season. Doing so by doing to ET3 what he has done to everyone else in his title years, finding another gear.
In Moto 1, Sexton was running nearly a second faster on average compared to Tomac, and then that got doubled in the second half of the race. Keep in mind he had to erase a six-second gap to Tomac before winning by nearly 13 seconds. Moto 2 was close to a re-airing, as Sexton again chased down Tomac and won by nearly 16 seconds. He was trained by James Stewart, but he kind of looked like him on Saturday. Not a soul on the planet had anything for him. Now, how does Sexton perform with the red plate six Motos away from a 450 National Title?
No. 3 Eli Tomac – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (2-2 for Second Overall)
Tomac being on the opposite end of a land shark run is not a common occurrence. However, he still put up a good performance at a track that he hasn’t been historically great at. Even after losing the points lead, Tomac is still in relatively good shape right now. Mainly due to the fact that he is only one point back of Sexton, and has maybe his best track coming up in Budds Creek next week. 2021 didn’t go too hot for Tomac, but he absolutely dominated in 2019 in what ended up being a title-clinching performance.
No. 1 Dylan Ferrandis – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (4-10 for Seventh Overall)
On the whole, it wasn’t too bad of a return for Ferrandis, who hadn’t competed in an AMA National in nearly a year. Maybe the most surprising moment of the season was when he pulled out the Moto 1 holeshot. If you remember from Supercross, Ferrandis’ starts were beyond horrific, and cost him multiple podiums at the bare minimum. Like we saw with his old 250 running mate Cooper back at Pala, his race conditioning may have not been all the way there. Ferrandis ended up getting stuck around 10th for close to all of Moto 2, never sticking around for long in the top 10. In any case, it’s nice to see the Champion back.
Unadilla National 450 Class Top 10
1st No. 23 Chase Sexton 1-1
2nd No. 3 Eli Tomac 2-2
3rd No. 21 Jason Anderson 3-3
4th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger 7-4
5th No. 94 Ken Roczen 5-7
6th No. 5 Ryan Dungey 6-6
7th No. 1 Dylan Ferrandis 4-10
8th No. 51 Justin Barcia 10-5
9th No. 17 Joey Savatgy 9-8
10th No. 28 Christian Craig 11-9
450 Class Point Standings After Unadilla
1st No. 23 Chase Sexton 409 Points (New Points Leader)
2nd No. 3 Eli Tomac 408 Points (-1)
3rd No. 21 Jason Anderson 325 Points (-72)
4th No. 94 Ken Roczen 304 Points (-105)
5th No. 28 Christian Craig 273 Points (-136)
Week 9 PulpMX Fantasy Motocross Lineup
250 Class: Justin Cooper (All-Star, +3), Cameron McAdoo (+7), Nick Romano (+8), Jorgen Talviku (+18)
450 Class: Jason Anderson (All-Star, +4), Dylan Ferrandis (-2), Joey Savatgy (+1), Josh Gilbert (+18)
FFL: Chase Sexton and Jett Lawrence (Unsuccessful)
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images