Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mates Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb have both put in strong performances to finish inside the top-five at tonight's latest round of the 2023 AMA Supercross Championship in Houston, Texas. In addition, the opening stop of the 250SX East season saw two-time MX2 World Champion Tom Vialle impress on his way to a seventh-place result in his first-career American Supercross appearance.
A season-best result of P4 in the 450SX Main Event for Plessinger sees him move into seventh place in the standings. After setting the 12th-fastest qualifying time, he surged off the gate and into third in the first 450SX Heat race during the early stages, then climbed into second to claim a satisfying runner-up result on his 2023 KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION.
Come the Main Event, Plessinger got a strong start and set out after the leader, but the race was red-flagged just before he could set up a move. A staggered restart saw the hard-charging 27-year-old lose two positions in quick succession, but he was able to regroup and finish fourth in what was his best performance of the year to date.
Aaron Plessinger: “I came into this weekend feeling confident in my starts I had a lot of fun out there. In the Heat race, I got a good start and had a great battle with Cooper and another rider, where I ended up second. I rode really well in that race. I got another unreal start in the Main and I was duking it out for the lead when the race was unfortunately red-flagged. Off the staggered start, I slid out a little in the first turn and lost a position, then another rider got around me soon afterward. I got my bearings back and started charging, then despite a couple of little mistakes, I finished the race at a good pace in a P4 position.”
Webb remains third in the championship standings after a hard-fought fifth-place result at NRG Stadium. Despite qualifying eighth, Webb and his 2023 KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION launched to the front of the opening 450SX Heat, with the two-time champion going on to claim third position.
Pinched off the start of the Main Event, Webb was able to cut inside as the field pushed wide and emerged from the first turn in P6. A quick pass saw him move into fifth before the race was red-flagged. After the restart, he traded places multiple times throughout the remainder of the race, before taking control and finishing with fifth position.
Cooper Webb: “I ended up fifth tonight and it was a bit of a struggle, to be honest. I felt off all day, from practice and through the heats, but we made the most of it and came away with a top five in the Main Event. We’re still in a good points situation and we’ll keep the ball rolling, regroup this week in Florida and come back swinging at Tampa!”
In the 250SX East season-opener, well-credentialed Frenchman Vialle is taking plenty of positives from his first-ever AMA Supercross start, where he enjoyed valuable track position and led the opening laps on his way to an eventual result of seventh in the Main Event.
After qualifying ninth, the 22-year-old opened his 250SX account with an impressive third place in his Heat. A fast start aboard the 2023 KTM 250 SX-F saw Vialle complete the opening lap inside the top three, before he withstood early pressure from behind to finish P3 and progress directly to his first-ever Main Event.
Another precise launch off the gate in the Main Event saw Vialle in P1 and he managed to lead the first two laps. After dropping two positions early on, he looked comfortable and appeared to be on track for a memorable podium. Unfortunately, a couple of late mistakes saw him cross the finish-line in seventh place, gaining valuable race experience in the process.
Tom Vialle: “I was a little nervous in the first practice, but I felt more comfortable as the day went on. In my Heat I was again a bit nervous as it was my first-ever Supercross in a stadium at night, but I had a good start and finished P3, so I was happy with that. In the Main Event, I had a great start again and got to lead for two laps. Then with five laps to go, while in third, I had a small crash when I missed the rear brake and went over the corner. I’m disappointed as we could’ve finished on the podium, but I learned a lot and it was a good day overall.”
Next Race: February 11 – Tampa, Florida
Results 450SX Class – Houston
1. Eli Tomac (USA), Yamaha, 23 laps
2. Chase Sexton (USA), Honda, +3.253
3. Jason Anderson (USA), Kawasaki, +12.408
4. Aaron Plessinger (USA), KTM, +17.357
5. Cooper Webb (USA), KTM, +24.593
14. Kevin Moranz (USA), KTM
20. Justin Hill (USA), KTM
Standings 450SX Class 2023 after 4 of 17 rounds
1. Eli Tomac, 95 points
2. Chase Sexton, 88
3. Cooper Webb, 83
7. Aaron Plessinger, 64
14. Justin Hill, 30
20. Kevin Moranz, 13
22. Marvin Musquin, 11
28. Josh Hill, 5
Results 250SX East Class – Houston
1. Hunter Lawrence (AUS), Honda, 18 laps
2. Max Anstie (GBR), Honda, +7.403
3. Jordon Smith (USA), Yamaha, +10.171
7. Tom Vialle (FRA), KTM
Standings 250SX East Class 2023 after 1 of 9 rounds
1. Hunter Lawrence, 26 points
2. Max Anstie, 23
3. Jordon Smith, 21
7. Tom Vialle, 16