Features 28 Apr 2022

Conversation: Jett Lawrence

250SX East champion on Foxborough and clinching the title.

Australia’s Jett Lawrence secured his first Monster Energy Supercross 250SX East title at Foxborough on Saturday, the 18-year-old Team Honda HRC rider showing maturity beyond his years to put together an incredibly consistent season to land a second AMA championship. He features in this Conversation.

Image: Octopi Media.

Jett, first up, congratulations on the championship. Your starts, I know I’m probably talking about a broken reckon here, I’m sure you have practised them, made some bike changes, and you guys have worked on them. It’s definitely hurt you a little bit, how do you fix this, what are you going to do? 

The urge not to jump over and fight you right now – I’m kidding [smiles]. The heat race, the loose dirt, the dirt was really gravely today with the base to it, and I just got, not a bad jump, Pierce [Brown] was next to me, pretty even coming out, but he just ended dropping that weight back a little better than what I was, I just ended up spinning which sucked. Then the main event, I’m not quite sure, I think I got out okay, but I was just a bit off-balance where the rear was kind of jumping in and out of the rut a bit, so I lost all of my traction there, which sucks, but I was just happy to make it through the first turn in both races.

For you and Austin Forkner both, that last lap was kind of what we have been waiting for all year. For both of you, how did that feel in the moment? Were you aware of the opportunity and was it like, this is my chance to go at it with this guy finally? Did either of you feel that way, or was it just another lap

I actually really liked it, to be honest. I think it almost helped me to just not even worry about the championship. I was more so excited about the actual race than the actual championship at the end, to be honest. It wasn’t like catch and pass and go on, we both were yo-yo-ing a lot. He would get a guy, then I ended up getting the guy. So, it was fun. The whoops were small, but they were still tricky. Like he said, I saw that last lap through the whoops and he’s hanging off the back of that thing. I’m like, ‘he’s going for it!’ But I had a lot of fun, I think that has been one of my more fun races, just because I couldn’t just go catch and pass wherever I wanted, I actually had to set it up a lot more because it was not one line around the track, but that was definitely the main fast one. I tried some different lines, made some mistakes. The track was so on being consistent and not making mistakes, a lot of the time I had to follow because he was in the main line. I wish we would have had more of these because I feel like this would have made my season way more fun than it actually is. Hopefully we can do the same at the last round.

To go off that [what Austin Forkner said about the battle], it’s one of the main reasons why we get into the sport. It’s because of that close battle that we can get really close, unlike, say, Formula 1 cars. You get close, everyone backs down because their cars are so fragile, where in our sport we’re allowed to get nice and close. I think that’s what makes our sport so great. I know I can speak for all three of us up here [Forkner and Brown]. That’s what we got into the sport for, that real intense, close racing.

Image: Octopi Media.

You had a couple of uncharacteristic crashes and tip-overs in practice and stuff. There is stress that goes along with this championship, I know that you were smiling, you were putting that off, but what about coming into this day, knowing what had to be done, stress versus reality in getting it done tonight? 

To be honest, I wasn’t stressed and I wasn’t trying to put it off. I mean I was more calmer than last weekend going to the East/West shootout to be honest. Today, the smiles weren’t fake, they weren’t trying to cover over anything. That tip over in the qualy was weird, I went off and I ended up missing the back brake. If I had stayed in, I would have railed the turn. I don’t think I was stressed at all, all day to be honest. I think I was just going back to first race, enjoying it again. I think it kind of helped me just have more fun with the track, because the track was such a different track compared to the rest of the layouts this year. I think I actually enjoyed it a lot more because it was so technical, peaky and you had to be smart with your lines and decisions.

I peaked fun at you earlier for finishing second in qualifying, and instead of answering like a typical 18-year-old, you showed maturity, you were like ‘hey I don’t get paid for qualifying.’ Then I followed that up and I asked you, do you think you are the fastest 250 rider out there in supercross. Again, you didn’t like a typical 18 -year-old, you showed maturity and you said ‘there is any rider who can throw their leg over the bike, and give it to me.’ Then last week, I asked you if I had a girlfriend, again you didn’t answer like a typical 18-year-old, you showed maturity and said ‘I’m focussed, I don’t pay it any attention.’ You left Australia, and at 18, you are now a supercross champion. What types of things had to come together, for you to bring that maturity in, to make it happen this year? 

I would say the people surrounding me, everyone says you have to surround yourself with good people, and I think I have done quite well with that. Then obviously, some of those hard hits, just realising that you don’t want to keep on doing that, then the people around me whipped me about it. The biggest thing, I don’t ever think I’m the best guy out there, there’s always someone… tonight Austin, he was the better guy today and I think it’s how good everyone is nowadays, anyone who is feeling it, can win. I bet you at any of the races if Pierce is on, I bet you a hundred bucks he could beat me. Everyone is so close nowadays, it’s kind of whoever is feeling good that day. Learning from my mistakes is one of the big things that kind of helped me mature, and like I said before just the group around me.