Features 14 Sep 2021

Debrief: 2021 Pro Motocross Rd12 Hangtown

Tomac and Lawrence recall 12th round in Northern California.

The final round of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is in the books, with Eli Tomac ending his time at Kawasaki on a high note and Jett Lawrence taking home the 250MX championship. Both riders were made available to the media for this Debrief interview feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

What didn’t happen today? Was it nerves or was it just bad circumstances and things going wrong? What was the problem because it obviously didn’t go smoothly? 

I’ll tell you what didn’t happen. I didn’t ride good at all. I sucked today. Practices they were good, first moto start, I was sleeping. Riding, I was riding way too fast for the track and rushing stuff. I was just being stupid really. But we thankfully got a bit of a blessing of coming up to eighth then obviously finishing third in the second one which thankfully wrapped it up, because it was not looking pretty after the first one.

Can you take us through the feeling and emotion when you cross the line and you then have the championship?

The feeling when I went across the finish line was, my body was dying, that’s the actual feeling [laughs]. But it was cool, I don’t think it’s actually really sunk in yet realistically, and I think tomorrow once I wake up and process everything, I’m still trying to process everything right now. Once it really sinks in I’ll actually believe it, but still dreaming right now. It was really cool to wrap it up and finally get to have a break after this weekend, so yeah.

In that second moto when you had the tip over off the back of Vohland, you picked it up and instead of panicking, it seemed like you almost immediately settled into a pace you were comfortable with. What was your mind set at that time and how difficult was it to settle down?

My mindset when I crashed was ‘wow, you’re really sucking today for dirtbikes’ but no I knew, ‘just get up as quick as you can and put on a charge’ and thankfully I made sure I didn’t override the track because the track was pretty rough. So I just had to make sure I didn’t overdo the track and make any stupid mistakes. I kind of got a flow and just relaxed, made my way through up to third and it was a lot better than the first moto that’s for sure.

What was the mood like at the truck between the motos and what kind of strategizing did you guys do?

After the first moto, I was definitely pissed, and was not happy at all, was not a happy chap. Going into the second one the mental frame was to go out there and do my job. I’d been putting in a lot of work and I definitely deserve what I’ve done so far. So I went out there and was ready, just another race, stay confident, and do your job.

Is there anything that stands out to you that you might have taken away as a learning lesson from this season? 

Just the mistakes. That’s the main thing I feel like learning, is taking away those mistakes, the silly mistakes that aren’t called for really and you definitely don’t want. Just mainly those and obviously there’s always room to improve. So we’ll go back and study up, Johnny [O’mara] is probably going to find out what I sucked at and probably crack the whip on me in the off-season to get me back in top shape and good for next year.

For kids back in Australia that want to follow in your footsteps, if there were three things you could tell them, what would they be? 

One would be, work hard. That’s obviously number one, the main thing, put in training. Two would be, don’t click faster than the clock ticks, I learned that from Stefan Everts, he would always tell Hunter [Lawrence] this because he wanted to go fast now. A very smart thing because it’s pretty true, don’t rush your time, take it step by step, and learn. Three is just to listen and learn, you can get the best guy telling you what to do, but if you don’t listen it’s not going to work. Just listen when someone gives you information that knows what they’re doing.


Image: Octopi Media.

You just got edged out by Dylan Ferrandis for the overall, but you did win the final moto of the year. Are you still satisfied with the way it turned out even though it ended up being a very close second overall?

Yeah it was close and it was disheartening from moto one, because I had a really good pace going. You know, I felt like I was going to be able to catch those guys. Of course, just missed my one main line there, the line I was taking by a couple inches. It washed my front end out, it was a pretty gnarly off-camber there, so I ended up crashing. I actually tweaked my thumb pretty good, that’s why once I got up and going, the speed was kind of mediocre. Thankfully I was able to tape it and get some strength back into it for moto two. Rode pretty good in moto two, made my way to the front and that was it. But once again Dylan was strong for those two motos.

Did you know where it all stood, at one point did you think you had the overall or did you know how it was going to play out? 

I was watching it and I was marking [Christian] Craig and I believe [Max] Anstie was there, then I saw that red plate and I was like ‘uh-oh,’ I knew he was coming and I kind of knew my chances were gone. But I was pumped then whenever it was, five to go, Dylan came through and that was it. But you can only control what you’ve got for yourself.

Obviously a big day for you being the last day with Kawasaki after a long relationship, but how excited are you for what’s to come? I know nothing is announced yet, but it must be a pretty exciting time to look ahead. 

Yes, I obviously can’t say where I’m going or what my future holds that way. But really, today, I’m pretty emotional, up and down that way. We had so much success with Kawasaki and with Brian Kranz my mechanic. That’s what’s hard to swallow, you kind of become family as a team, you know, we didn’t end, speaking about Kawasaki now, on any bad terms that way. You know, where you’re not speaking to each other, you’re not working with each other. We worked totally on good terms throughout this motocross season and that was it. So it was tough that way today leaving the track. But it’s a life goes on kind of thing and that’s all you can do.

Going back over the years at Kawasaki, is there a moment that stands out as one of your highest moments with the team? 

That’s the fight for the Supercross 450 title, and obviously, the 450 motocross title was first and that is huge too. But that Supercross title was pretty dang elusive to us for some time, so that’s one season I’ll look back on, and during the covid thing we had a lot going on in 2020. So yeah it’s just recent memories, 2020 is a special year.

We know Hangtown usually opens the season or it’s at least toward the front, so what was the track like today, and how was it to finish off the season at Hangtown? 

It started out more of a hard base, actually the whole day the track was more of a hard base than what we’ve had in the past. Then it had pretty good character at the end of the day, but for sure it was one of the more hard-packed tracks we’ve ridden. To be honest, that’s fine, you know, I don’t think every track needs to be exactly the same and ripped deep and watered to perfect conditions. I did enjoy some hard-packed condition, even though it did bite me going down that off-camber. Overall it was pretty hot today, comparing it to the end of May it kind of felt the same, all the fields were still brown around us the same, so to be honest it wasn’t totally different than May.

Like you mentioned, your last hoorah with Kawasaki, but also with your mechanic Brian Kranz, just wondering what that relationship has meant to you working with him for the 11 years you have and how strange will it be next year not working with him? 

It’s going to be strange. Basically, you become family that way and when you show up to the race and race weekend, you’re a team right? So that’s what’s going to be different about it is not having him there. And man, we’ve had a long-standing relationship, 11 years, I don’t know that many guys have beaten that as a combination. Kranz was bulletproof, I could just trust the bike every single weekend, right? Where you never have questions about what the guy’s doing, or whatever. Bolts are tight, the thing’s going to stay together and he had a gnarly track record that way. So yeah, it’s tough to think about not having him there.