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Analyzing the Race for the 450MX Championship

By Trey Stire

The battle brewing for the 450 championship could be one for the ages. (Photo: Garth Milan)
Hours after this report  below was published American Honda announced that Jett Lawrence had withdrawn from the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship season because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament (thumb) after a "small practice crash Tuesday" at his riding facility in Florida. The press release did not specify which thumb but did state that Lawrence will undergo "a procedure" on July 4 at the Steadman Clinic in Colorado. Current plans have him returning in time for the SMX Playoffs in Charlotte on July 7. 

While J. Lawrence will not be competing in the final six rounds of Pro Motocross, the report below is still accurate heading into RedBud.

Leaving RedBud, however, it will likely be a two rider battle and we anticipate reinvigorated energy from Aaron Plessinger and Justin Cooper.
Jett Lawrence is 2 for 3 in overall wins in 2024 but sits third in the points standings (-16). Photo: Garth Milan
We’re not sure which thumb it is, but Jett Lawrence will miss the rest of the Pro Motocross series due to a torn UCL

After five rounds of the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship, things are tight at the top. A trio of riders are entering RedBud this weekend, separated by just three points. Carrying the red plate into the event is Hunter Lawrence, who has been rock solid in his rookie 450MX season so far. Just behind him is younger brother and defending champion Jett Lawrence and Chase Sexton, looking to avenge his runner-up finish in the 2022 championship.

This report comes from the We Went Fast Shop Rag Research. Join our community – The Garage – to access to the rest of the research and read our real-time race day stats and data feed.

Three riders are separated by just three points in 450MX, which is both rare and nearly identical to how the 2024 Supercross season began when the top 3 were separated by two points through five rounds (Sexton, Jett Lawrence and Aaron Plessinger).

Jett Lawrence and the 450MX class at the 2024 Southwick Pro Motocross. Photo: Garth Milan

2024 SX Standings (thru RD05)

2024 MX Standings (thru RD05)

Let’s compare to 2023: five rounds into the season, Jett Lawrence had built a 57 point lead over 2021 champion Dylan Ferrandis and a 76 point lead over Aaron Plessinger. Chase Sexton missed rounds 2-4 due to a concussion, and was a distant 164 points back.

Don’t let the close competition of 2024 cloud your judgement. This is spectacular, but it isn’t historically normal. Over the past decade, many of the 450 championship battles were close. These battles featured only two riders and while they were spectacular, they didn’t hold the extra element of another contender.

Recent Two Rider 450 Pro Motocross Battles (through 5 rounds)
  • 2022: Chase Sexton led Eli Tomac by 7 points (third place Ken Roczen was -30)
  • 2018: Ken Roczen led Eli Tomac by 6 points (third place Marvin Musquin was -31)
  • 2017: Blake Baggett led Eli Tomac by 4 points (third place Jason Anderson was -19)
  • 2011: Chad Reed led Ryan Villopoto by 8 points (third place Ryan Dungey was -21).
Chase Sexton was the red plate holder at the 2022 RedBud Pro Motocross. Photo: American Honda

Going further back into the two stroke era of history when ‘men were men’ and box vans ruled the paddock, we find that three points separated Jeff Ward and Jeff Stanton in 1990 (after 5 rounds).

Here are the closest three-rider battles we could find. Interestingly, two-time World Motocross Champion Sebastien Tortelli was involved in all three:

Three Way Rider Battles (through 5 rounds)
  • 2001: Ricky Carmichael led by 13 points over Kevin Windham and 15 points over Sebastien Tortelli. Carmichael held the series lead for the remainder of the season for a second consecutive title.
  • 2000: A year prior, the same three men were involved in another tight battle. Carmichael led by 4 points over Tortelli and 10 points over Windham. Carmichael lost the lead to Tortelli at round 6 in RedBud, but got it back at round 8 and won the title as a rookie.
  • 1999 Tortelli led by 4 points over Ezra Lusk and 13 points over Greg Albertyn. Albertyn won the championship for Suzuki and put South Africa on top of the Motocross world.
Sebastien Tortelli, pictured at Unadilla 2001, was in the title hunt each year from 1999-2001. Photo: Frank Hoppen

There’s a few notable things about the previous three rider battles.

  • A rookie won the championship in 2000. If Hunter Lawrence continues to hold the red plate, he would become the third rider in the last four years to accomplish this feat.
  • The 1999 champion was in 3rd after 5 rounds. Chase Sexton is currently in that spot, and has the momentum after a brilliant charge at Southwick.
  • The defending champion repeated in 2001. Jett Lawrence could go back to back, becoming the first Honda rider to win consecutive premier class outdoor titles since Ricky Carmichael’s last two summers with the brand (2003 and 2004).

With over half of the series still in front of us, it’s anyone’s guess as to who wins the championship. Each of the three riders has a compelling case to hold up the trophy at the end of the season. With three parallels to the last three fights between a trio, one of these men could repeat a bit of history.

Who will land the decisive blow at RedBud and seize momentum as we enter the second half of the season? (Photo: Garth Milan)

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