AMA Pro Motocross Recap: 2021 Unadilla National

The Unadilla National kicked off the final five-round run of this year’s AMA Pro Motocross Championship on Saturday. Dylan Ferrandis entered Saturday with a comfortable points gap to second-placed Ken Roczen. On the 250 side of things, Justin Cooper came into the weekend hoping to keep both red plates in-house at Star Yamaha. His teammate Jeremy Martin, coming off a win at Washougal, was on the prowl, making a mad dash trying to get back into the title picture. With Jett Lawrence also in the mix, desperately needing some momentum with no Moto wins since July.

250 Class

Moto 1

The three alpha dogs of the 250 class would all be at the front right out of the gate. Cooper would pull out the holeshot, with Lawrence, Martin, and Suzuki’s Dilan Schwartz behind. This front pack would separate about a lap in, not as bad as it did in the first 450 Moto, however. Each rider had around a second and a half buffer behind for the first six positions. Meanwhile further on back, Pierce Brown ended up going down hard but kept on going despite being visibly shaken. Brown was also the only factory GasGas entry of the weekend, with Justin Barcia and Micheal Mosiman hurt.

For more on Barcia and Mosiman’s injuries, click here.

Just short of the halfway point, Austin Forkner went down off-camera, and his Moto ended shortly after. A beyond miserable year for the Missouri native just keeps on keeping on. Back at the front, Cooper and Lawrence had checked out on Martin, the gap stretching out to nearly five and a half seconds from the leaders to him. Eventually, Cooper put down the gauntlet and pulled from Lawrence late to pick up the opening Moto win.

Moto 2

Cooper picked up his second holeshot of the day with Martin in tow right behind once again. Lawrence soon after would also make it back up to the front, almost getting by Martin with a downright disgusting scrub out of gravity cavity. Martin responded to the pressure by taking the lead away from Cooper in the coming corners.

Brown who went down in Moto 1, went down again in Moto 2 and headed to the medical cart this go around. A rough week for the TLD/Red Bull GasGas squad. With that going on, Cooper and Lawrence, who aren’t friends by any stretch, had an awesome mini battle for a lap or two. Lawrence gained second for a few moments but it did not last long. Then on a second charge, Lawrence railed the outside corner before the SkyShot jump to get by again. With Cooper in the proverbial rearview, the young Australian set his sights on Martin and his two-second lead.

Lawrence caught Martin at the midway mark and blew by him right after the SkyShot. With Cooper in a slight free fall, he had the Overall win at that moment. By the end of the Moto, Lawrence turned a two-second deficit into a five-second lead, one of the best runs of his young career. In the waiting moments of the moto, Jo Shimoda nailed his left wrist on a trackside barrel and rode back to the pits in considerable pain. Lawrence meanwhile wrapped up his first Overall win since May, and first Moto win since July. More impressively he beat his title rival, Cooper by nearly a minute.

Top 10 Overall in 250 Class

No. 18 Jett Lawrence 2-1

No. 32 Justin Cooper 1-4

No. 6 Jeremy Martin 3-2

No. 24 R.J. Hampshire 4-3

No. 115 Max Vohland 6-5

No. 41 Hunter Lawrence 5-11

No. 47 Jalek Swoll 8-9

No. 147 Levi “The Master Chef” Kitchen 12-7

No. 59 Jarrett Frye 13-8

No. 75 Ty Masterpool 11-14

450 Class

No. 94 Ken Roczen- Honda HRC (1-1 for first overall)

Domination was the order of the day for the German Honda rider. The fastest qualifier, wire to wire Moto 1 win, and then a Moto 2 win where he led 90 percent of the moto. You could not have asked for a better run if you are Eric Kehoe and the Honda HRC squad. A shame too, that he got hurt in the opening Moto at Millville because this title race could have been even more interesting. Don’t look now but the gap to Ferrandis dropped from 47 points to 39 points on Saturday. If Roczen can put together four more days like he just did plus some outside help, his title hopes are still very much alive.

No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis- Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (2-3 for second overall)

On the contrary for the series points leader, it was a case of championship conservation mode. While a 2-3 day is more than good, letting Roczen gather late-season momentum may not be the best idea. With that being said, if Ferrandis does exactly what he did on Saturday these next four weekends, it will not matter how good Roczen does. Four more 2-3’s would be game, set, and match for the Frenchman.

No. 23 Chase Sexton– Honda HRC (11-2 for fourth overall)

Sexton’s day could not have started much worse than it did. Right past the holeshot gate, he lost the rear end of the bike in some ruts and flung off his bike rather violently. Despite this, he was able to continue, and not only that but unconsciously make his way through the field. By the end of Moto 1, he went from 40th to 11th in one of the performances of the year so far. In Moto 2 he had the lead over his teammate Roczen for a brief stretch, before tucking in behind him for the rest of the day. Putting the result of his first Moto 1 in context, this was either the best or second-best ride of the entire weekend.

No. 72 Coty Schock– FXR/Chapparal Honda (12-9 for 10th overall)

For the year Schock has had, he deserves a large heap of praise. The Delaware-based rider is in the midst of a career year, both in Supercross and Motocross in 2021. He finished ninth in this year’s 250 West Supercross Championship, and on Saturday, picked up his second career 450 Motocross top 10. Hopefully, there are some teams with their eye on Schock, because he has proven he can ride with the top guns in this sport.

No. 7 Aaron Plessinger– Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (38-DNF for 38th Overall)

Despite running away in Moto 1 with Roczen, Plessinger’s day would be undone early with a rather bizarre crash. Off a landing, he looped out his bike, and it landed on him upside down. The entire rear end of his bike was completely wrecked in the aftermath, and Plessinger didn’t fare much better. After a few minutes of catching his breath, he was carted off and his day ended right there. Even worse was that he went to the hospital afterward as well. Hopefully AP is all good for Budds Creek.

Top 10 Overall in 450 Class

No. 94 Ken Roczen 1-1

No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis 2-3

No. 25 Marvin Musquin 4-4

No. 3 Eli Tomac 3-7

No. 23 Chase Sexton 11-2

No.  2 Cooper Webb 5-5

No. 29 Christian Craig 7-6

No. 34 Max Anstie 8-9

No. 19 Justin Bogle 9-12

No. 72 Coty Schock 12-10

Surprisingly, there was no Motocross Des Nations team announcement for the United States this weekend. However, congratulations to Musquin on finally getting the call to captain the French Des Nations entry for this year. He has not participated in the event since 2015, where the French won on home soil at Ernee. Next week the series shifts to Budds Creek right outside of Washington D.C.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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