Another turn against tradition in Houston was having the east coast 250 riders kick off the series. Something that hasn’t happened since the Orlando season opener 25 years ago.
The east coast field is chock full of established talent and emerging stars, so it was interesting to see how that played out around the relatively simple circuit inside the NRG stadium.
Austin Forkner took first blood as he scored the heat one win. The Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider has battled back from a nasty injury sustained at the tail end of the 2020 Supercross season – an injury which saw his spleen removed – so this was a strong return to form for the former wunderkind and multiple-time championship contender.
Jo Shimoda was second and Jett Lawrence was third. Max Vohland, the young KTM Factory signing, also impressed here in his first ever professional race.
250 heat two saw the veterans of the class hit the track. 29-year-old Christian Craig was fortunate enough to sign a deal with the Star Racing Monster Energy Yamaha squad just before his previous team – GIECO Honda – shut their doors for good. Due to a small crash early on Craig actually had to make the pass for the lead twice.
An aggressive move on Hampshire in the latter half of the race saw him take the position for good. He took the race win ahead of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider and Troy Lee Designs Red Bull Gas Gas factory racing pilot Michael Mosiman.
Brit Dylan Woodcock just missed out on a direct pass to the main event here, however he was able to take the chequers after a great ride in the LCQ to book his spot in the points paying race.
Houston SX 250 Highlights
When the gates dropped for the main event it was the Husqvarna mounted RJ Hampshire who took the holeshot ahead of Christian Craig and the teenage sensation from Australia Jett Lawrence. Austin Fornker was also lurking within the top five, just waiting to make his attack on the leading riders.
On the second lap of action Christian Craig pulled the trigger to make an excellent pass on RJ Hampshire for the race lead. This created a three way battle for second as both Lawrence and Forkner joined the party at the front of the pack.
Austin Forkner was cleverly able to make passes on both Lawrence and Hampshire to take over second, allowing him to set his sights on Craig and think about mounting an attack for the lead.
Meanwhile, after seeing his rival blitz by and stretch away Jett Lawrence seemingly lost some momentum at the mid-way stage of the moto. He lost yet another spot to the second Star Racing Yamaha pilot, Colt Nichols.
This late race charge from Nichols – and the fight back from Lawrence – created yet another three-way battle as RJ Hampshire desperately tried to defend the final podium spot. However, with two laps to go Hampshire cracked under the pressure, crashing out of third place. Things also went downhill for Lawrence as a crash for him on the final lap of racing knocked him down the leader board as well.
At the front of the field Christian Craig rode a stellar race, hitting his marks and not allowing Forkner to close the gap and mount a charge for the lead. Craig crossed the line to take his first race win in five years in his debut for his brand-new team, Star Racing Monster Energy Yamaha.
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