Long before the sun rose on the 2022 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, the fires of excitement regarding just what might happen when the gates started falling were already beginning to blaze. And for good reason: many of the sport’s heavy hitters had switched saddles, and the buzz of uncertainty was in the air. Eli Tomac had gone from Kawasaki to Yamaha, Jason Anderson from Husqvarna to Kawasaki, and Malcolm Stewart from Yamaha to Husqvarna. There was plenty of anticipation to see how each rider would get along with their new machines, and of course stars like Ken Roczen, Justin Barcia, Chase Sexton, Marvin Musquin, and two-time 450SX champ Cooper Webb were returning with their same squads.
When the first gate dropped, it was Roczen who drew first blood, leading the season opener from start to finish in a classic, Roczen-like ride. Unfortunately, his brilliance wouldn’t continue, and his results started suffering, leading him to bow out of supercross after Daytona in an effort to get his health back to 100 percent for the upcoming season of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
The next rider to join the winner’s circle was Jason Anderson, who, in Oakland, got his first win since his championship season in 2018. Chase Sexton was next—winning his first 450SX main event in San Diego—with Tomac lighting the candles at Anaheim 2, making it four different 450SX winners in the first four rounds. As the season started to settle in, however, it became clear the championship would come down to a battle between Anderson and Tomac, but Eli had no interest in making this a close championship and went on a five-race win streak starting in Arlington. During that time, Anderson had some struggles and bad luck, including knock-down, drag-out battle with Stewart, who’d had enough of Anderson’s rough and aggressive riding. That collision put both riders on the ground at Daytona. Tomac would sustain a knee injury late in the season and Anderson would capitalize, winning the final four races, but it was too little, too late, and Tomac was able to clinch his second 450SX championship a round early at his home race in Denver. It was also the first 450SX title for the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing squad.
Two notable absences in the 450SX class that likely would have made the racing even better were Adam Cianciarulo and Dylan Ferrandis. Kawasaki’s Cianciarulo separated his shoulder shortly before the season, which led to a crash later in the season that resulted in a torn ACL, knocking him out of action for the year. Yamaha’s Ferrandis, who was having a tough season early, ended up bowing out after casing a jump hard in Detroit. The French rider set his sights on defending his #1 plate in Pro Motocross.
In 250SX action, leaders quickly emerged in both the East and West Regions. In the East it was HRC Honda’s Jett Lawrence who immediately took control of the series by winning the opener in Minneapolis. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Cameron McAdoo briefly put up a struggle, winning round two to tie Lawrence in the points, but Lawrence would win the next three. McAdoo stayed in the fight by nabbing podiums, but his season came to a premature end when he suffered an AC separation on press day in St. Louis. Lawrence would go on to win unchallenged ahead of RJ Hampshire and Pierce Brown. Lawrence clinched the title one round early and a tweaked ankle in qualifying at the finale sidelined him for the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Showdown.
In the West it was all about Christian Craig, who was competing in what would be his final year aboard a 250; the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing Yamaha rider kicked the season off with a pair of wins. Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence would keep Craig honest by consistently taking seconds and thirds, and even winning in Glendale, but a crash and subsequent 18th at Anaheim 3 all but destroyed his shot at challenging Craig. To his credit, the older Lawrence brother would rebound and finish the season extremely strong, collecting three additional wins, but Craig’s lead was too much to overcome, which allowed Craig to win his first 250SX title by ten points over Hunter Lawrence.
In motocross, the stage was set for a wild season, and even after defending champ Ferrandis pulled out before the season opener with a torn ligament in his thumb, the field was still full of talented contenders. Still, nobody could have predicted just how crazy it was about to get in the 450 Class. Chase Sexton came out of the gate hot and trounced the field with an undeniable 1-1 at the Fox Raceway season opener, but then Kawasaki’s Anderson entered the fray, taking his very first outdoor national overall win at Hangtown the following week—no easy task, because Tomac and Sexton were running hard that day. To make the series even more interesting, Ken Roczen pulled out a win a week later at Thunder Valley after Sexton made a mistake on the final lap. Then Tomac won at High Point by splitting wins with Sexton! All of a sudden, just like in supercross, we had four different overall winners in the first four races! But Tomac was set of breaking up the parity. He put his head down and began inflicting pressure and pain on the field by winning the next seven motos in a row. Even so, a resilient Sexton was somehow undeterred and refused to buckle under the immense pressure, challenging Tomac in moto after moto. One of the wildest battles took place at Spring Creek, where the two ran wheel to wheel for the majority of the race.
Finally, at Washougal, the tide seemed to shift ever so slightly in Sexton’s favor. The two were so close in the first moto that when Tomac tipped over, Sexton ran right into the back of him. Both remounted, with Sexton somehow still glued to Tomac’s rear wheel. In the second moto, Sexton was finally able to withstand one of Tomac’s patented charges and beat the Yamaha rider straight-up to win the overall. From that point forward, things got even tighter and wilder. Sexton went 1-1 at Unadilla, one of Tomac’s least favorite tracks, to retake the red plate. Both then inexplicably had off-days the following week at Budds Creek, with Tomac going 1-5 and Sexton going 7-1, which resulted in Tomac retaking the lead—by a single point! The two split wins once again at Ironman Raceway to set up a winner-take-all finale, once again at Fox Raceway, with Tomac holding a single-point advantage going into the first moto. Sexton was strong, but Tomac was stronger, taking the moto win. In the second moto Sexton had ungodly speed, but it simply wasn’t sustainable. While coming from behind at a mind-blowing pace, Sexton would crash multiple times, leaving Tomac to close out the season with a perfect 1-1, and a fourth 450 National Motocross Championship.
In 250 action the racing was good, but it was pretty clear from the first gate drop that it was going to take a heroic effort for anyone to beat defending champ Jett Lawrence from Australia. The Honda HRC star kicked off his season with a 1-1 at the opener and proceeded to win the first four rounds, and didn’t finish off the box until he had a motor problem at RedBud that forced a DNF. Lawrence briefly lost the points lead to his brother, Hunter, but swiftly regained it with a perfect 1-1 the following weekend at Southwick. From that point he was never challenged for the championship lead, and he’d end up successfully defending his championship by 45 points over Jo Shimoda.
Speaking of Shimoda, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider really started coming around the midpoint of the season. He became the first Japanese rider in history to win an overall when he won at RedBud, and he followed it up with another overall victory at Unadilla. By season’s end he’d won five motos and ended up edging Hunter Lawrence for second in the standings.
As fantastic as the 2022 season of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship was, the good times continued to roll even after the conclusion of the championship. Several weeks later, the global motocross community descended on RedBud for the annual Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations—a race that the United States, once the sport’s most dominant nation, hadn’t won since 2011. But this year, led by Eli Tomac, Chase Sexton, and Justin Cooper, Team USA showed up sharp, ready, and intent on ending the winless drought. And win it they did, with Tomac taking the first moto win and Cooper winning his class. Sexton was extremely strong, too, and while he probably could have won a moto, he rode well within control, as the team had the win in hand. When the checkers flew, France took second behind America, with Australia rounding out the podium. The MXoN win was a career first for Tomac, and it came after he won both 450SX and 450 Class MX titles for the first time in the same season.