This is the Best Ride You Will See All Year in Motorcycle Racing

Red Bull KTM’s Chase Sexton took on the last-to-first challenge at last weekend’s AMA Pro Motocross Hangtown Classic National

Chase Sexton, 2024 Hangtown Classic National. - Align Media/KTM

The 450 class of AMA Pro Motocross and Supercross has become fairly predictable over the last year or so thanks to Jett Lawrence. As a rookie, he won every moto in last year’s AMA Pro Motocross Championship, he won the inaugural SuperMotocross Championship last autumn, and this year he won the AMA Supercross Championship at his first go, too.

So, when he crashed hard from the lead on the first lap of moto one at the AMA Pro Motocross Hangtown Classic National last Saturday, the series was kind of turned on its head.

The race was led for the most part by Lawrence’s brother and Team Honda HRC teammate, Hunter Lawrence, but he was overhauled late by Chase Sexton.

Sexton left Honda at the end of 2023 to join the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team as their lead rider. In Supercross, which he won in 2023 with Honda, he only took two wins, and he spent most of the series-opening Pala National of the Pro Motocross Championship in the same position he spent most of last season: just off the rear tyre of Jett Lawrence.

Lawrence’s early crash opened an opportunity for Sexton to take his first moto win in Pro Motocross since 2022, when he fought for the 450MX title with Eli Tomac, Tomac eventually coming out on top in a final round decider.

Sexton’s win in the first moto was therefore a milestone victory for the rider who picked #4 as his single-digit career number earned for winning the 450SX title last year. But it was his second moto performance that will make the 2024 Hangtown Classic go down in history.

Sexton started reasonably, and was in around fifth position when the field hit the holeshot line. But he threw it away at the second turn, spinning the rear tyre out and watching the whole field go by.

Sexton was now 40th, and had to charge hard to get back into contention for the overall victory. After the first moto, Sexton was in contention with Hunter Lawrence for the overall, but Aaron Plessinger - Sexton’s KTM teammate - was leading the second moto, meaning he had a chance at a first 450MX win, too.

Sexton’s charge from the back was incredible. He cut through 15 riders and into the top 25 after five minutes, and with 20 minutes to go he was already into the top eight positions, and with just over 10 minutes to go he was just under 20 seconds off the lead.

Five minutes later he’d halved his deficit to leader Plessinger and was up to third place. The overall was already his, but he kept on charging, passing 450 rookie Justin Cooper for second as they clicked into the penultimate lap.

One position now separated Sexton from a perfect execution of the last-to-first challenge, and he even had time to take a lap to reset before charging after his teammate, Plessinger, on the final lap.

Sexton was especially strong late in the race, when he was passing the other factory riders, in the section just before the mechanics area. He passed GasGas’ Justin Barcia there, and it’s also where he put the move on Plessinger on the final lap, just three corners from the end of the race.

It was not only the numbers that made Sexton’s second moto so impressive but the way he rode to make those numbers happen. There were countless near-disaster moments, with cross-ruts, rear slides, front folds, slamming and missing ruts, and all of that turned Sexton’s ride into an expression of his superior performance but also of his evidently exceptional bike skill and control. It was a perfect ride.

The 2024 AMA Pro Motocross Championship heads to its third stop of the season this Saturday (8 June) at Thunder Valley.

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Image credit: KTM/Align Media.