MENTOR, Ohio (May 22, 2018) – Jeremy Martin put together a leading performance, and came just short of winning Saturday's 250 Class Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season opener at the Hangtown Motocross Classic in Sacramento, Calif.
The Wiseco-sponsored rider of the No. 6 Honda CRF250R was fastest in qualifying, scored the holeshot in the 250 Class' second moto and raced to a stellar 2-2 finish to kick start his 2018 Pro Motocross campaign with an impressive second-place overall finish.
A mechanical setback in the first moto kept Martin off the podium last year at Hangtown. Fortunately, there were no such complications Saturday afternoon, and the Millville, Minn., native turned in a solid performance, looking to set the tone for a championship run in 2018.
"It was solid," said Martin who left Hangtown second in points. "It was good. I got a good start in the first moto and then Zach (Osborne) got around me. Ripped a good start in moto two, Aaron Plessinger and I were battling (for the lead). We bumped a little bit in the half pipe and I got the lead. Then Zacho, I heard him coming. That Husky sounds like one of a kind. We kind of yo-yo'd for the rest of the race and he got away just enough and put it on cruise control."
Martin's fellow Wiseco-supported GEICO Honda teammates Chase Sexton and RJ Hampshire had productive days of their own, finishing sixth and ninth overall, respectively. Sexton was part of the conversation all day and was safely inside the top 10 in both practice sessions. The Clermont, Fla., rider just missed a top 10 in the first moto but rallied in the second to finish fifth and left Hangtown sixth in points.
"I'd say it was a decent day," Sexton explained. "Wasn't great, wasn't bad. Qualified fourth but got eleventh in the first moto. I got a pretty good start but fell over twice and went off the track. It wasn't a very good first moto. But the second moto I got a good start, fifth or sixth, passed Aaron (Plessinger) and was trying to pass Alex (Martin) but kind of got caught up and Aaron got by me again and I got fifth. It wasn't too bad, sixth overall, and we're going to Glen Helen healthy and ready to go."
The Pro Motocross season opener was Hampshire's first outing since being injured at the Daytona Supercross in March, and the rider of the No. 36 machine turned in a sturdy 10-7 effort to be credited with ninth at day's end.
"Happy to be back at the races," said Hampshire. "We earned a 10-7 on the day, not terrible but really struggled to get going. My starts were poor and I kind of just ran the pace the guys around me were running. Hoping this was an off weekend for us and we can build off of it for next weekend. I'm spending these next couple weeks in California, so we can do some work with the bike and get me a little bit more comfortable."
Meanwhile, in the premier 450 Class paddock, Team Honda HRC's Ken Roczen returned to competition after suffering an injury to his right hand at the San Diego Supercross. Despite continuing to nurse a sore thumb and having limited time aboard his Honda CRF450R to prepare, Roczen turned a workman-like 6-16 effort to be credited with an 11th-place overall finish.
"I knew this weekend was going to be kind of crazy," explained Roczen. "I got the clearance to ride a few weeks ago, though it's been very hard for me, with my thumb, to get a lot riding time in. In the first moto I ended up sixth, which we were pretty happy with considering where we're at. I knew the second moto was going to be tough. I know each and every weekend, I'm going to be making big steps forward, which is important. Overall, I gave it my all and we came away healthy, which is important. I'm definitely going to do some work this week on both myself and the bike and show up at Glen Helen in a good mood and ready to rock."
Roczen's Fellow Team Honda HRC rider Christian Craig collected the holeshot in the first moto, notched a pair eighth-place finishes and accordingly, was scored eighth overall at the checkered flag.
"I'm happy to get out of Hangtown healthy and to start building from here," commented Craig. "The first race of the season is always nice to get out of the way. I pulled the holeshot in the first moto and led some laps before getting passed by a couple guys, then crashing. I got up but was in ninth, then passed for eighth. In the second moto, (Blake) Baggett and I got together out of the gate so it ruined my start. I started mid-pack and worked my way up. It was kind of a mess, but luckily, I was able to make my way up to eighth again and get out of there inside the top 10 overall. I know where I stand in that class so I'm happy with my speed and fitness; I just need to stop making little mistakes."
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship heads south from the shadow of the California state capital to San Bernardino for this weekend's Glen Helen National.
The first moto from Round 2 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship from the Giant RV Glen Helen National presented by Malcolm Smith Motorsports will be televised live on MAVTV Sat., May 26 beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1 p.m. Pacific. Television coverage for the second moto will shift to NBCSN at 6 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. Pacific. Additionally, all the action can be seen as it unfolds online via the “Pro Motocross Pass” on the NBC Sports Gold app.