Features 3 May 2022

Debrief: 2022 Supercross Rd16 Denver

Main event winners Anderson and Lawrence recall 16th round.

It was a third consecutive 450SX victory for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson, standing on the top step at Denver, as Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence continued his impressive form in 250SX West to take win number four in the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross Championship. Both riders were available to the media following the race for this Debrief feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

Jason, this is now three in a row. You’re on fire. What was today like for you just with the environment? Again, being close to home for you as well, but just to get that win and keep that ball rolling?

Yeah, it’s pretty surreal right now. Being close to home, at Denver, this is my first time here. Three in a row, I feel really good, I feel like I’m riding well. It’s nice to be clicking off these wins. At the beginning of the season, I don’t think anyone would have put me in this position. It’s nice to just prove it to myself that I can still do it. Having one of the best seasons I’ve ever had is awesome. I just want to keep it going.

Specifically on these type of conditions, these slick conditions, do you feel like you have an advantage on this type of track? Did you have a little extra confidence because of that?

This track was tough but I do feel confident that I can ride it very well, but at the same time, you’ve got to put yourself in a good position because if you’re at the back of the pack, there are some moments. To be honest, I dodged one moment whenever Chase [Sexton] fell in that thing, and his rear wheel came out. I kind of clipped it with my foot peg, but luckily I was able to avoid that. As far as these conditions go, I think everyone is pretty good on what they grew up on or things like that. For me, I’m from New Mexico and it’s not the most moist dirt or anything like that. So, I think I thrive pretty well in these hard-pack conditions. Tonight definitely was nothing short of that. I think everyone on the track, I don’t think anyone really went wide open. Everyone was like quarter throttle just trying to get traction to the ground. It was really tough. Still, it was a good race.

We’re at the end of the supercross season now, but even this week at your house in New Mexico you were still pounding out laps. Where are we at right now with the plan going into this finale? Most of the time we get to this point and everybody is just done. So, how much is supercross and still learning this bike and getting the work done for next year right now important?

Yeah I mean for me, I’m still trying to make progress. I’m still trying to make bike changes to have consistent progress with it. This is the bike I’m going to be racing next year. Right now I think I’m as race fit as I’m going to be before going to A1 next year. For me, I think it’s fresh in my brain so I really feel like I’m still trying to make strides forward to be able to have my bike set up to avoid some of my crashes or some mistakes that I’ve had this year. I think we haven’t been making huge changes, but they’ve been little ones that have been making us be able to move forward. For me, I still honestly got to stay on it because this bike is so new to me. I haven’t rode much outdoors on it. So, everything is first time for me. Just trying to keep the ball rolling. Still striving to be better and have the bike ready for next year supercross and try and get ready for outdoors.

It’s really easy to now look back or at the end of the season go, ‘it was a great choice to go to Monster Energy Kawasaki.’ As we have all talked, probably your best racing season ever. But yourself, Malcolm and Eli, oddly enough, you guys basically did a little musical chairs with your teams. For a few of you, from the outside it was considered a gamble. At the time you did it, were you confident enough in the change initially that these results that don’t surprise you? Or is it even a shock to you that this season has come around this well?

Honestly, if you’re looking from the outside looking in with people’s perception of me and my results last year, I was basically damaged goods. But personally, with everything I’ve got going on and what I have left in me, as far as the effort that I want to put forward, being in an environment that is really good and we work together well. For me, I’ve only been with one team for my whole career, so going to a new team that had new guys – my mechanic is new, crew chief is new. I think really the only thing that was the same was my practice mechanic. Switching all of that up is very overwhelming, especially because I’m a person is very set in their ways. Right now, I’m comfortable at Kawi and I really don’t want to leave that situation until I’m done. But you never know. Never say never. You saw where I was for so many years, but I needed a change. I knew what I had left in me. The results… would I say I thought I would have this many wins? Probably not, but I knew I’d be a guy on the podium and I think I would have been challenging for wins. I knew I had to give it a shot.

On the post-race interview on the trackside, you said it was a bittersweet moment for you. Can you talk a little bit about the prior races where you had some entanglements with Malcolm and Justin Barcia? Do you look at those as unforced errors on your part, and would it change the outcome of this season and this championship?

Yeah, one hundred percent. Obviously, some of the stuff that happened is definitely unforced errors on my part, and just all of us in general. We’re just trying our hardest and sometimes egos maybe get in the way a little bit. I really think that I’ve put my best foot forward. There are some mistakes that I had. I really think Detroit was the one that really kind of put a fork in it for me as far as the championship and the points and everything like that, and that was completely on me. That kind of was tough. It was honestly tough to bounce back the next weekend, and stuff like that. If I’m being honest, I felt like my speed and stuff was really good and good enough to be able to take this thing all the way to the end. I think it’s just Eli played it really cool and he took the opportunity when the opportunity was there, and if it wasn’t there, he kind of stuck to his guns and just kept doing his thing. That’s where he beat me. That’s part of it. That’s part of racing. We love it, and we’ll come back for more next year, so it’s cool.


Image: Octopi Media.

Hunter, good ride. We talked on the podium a little bit. You’re starting to stack these things up. I’m curious just in the transition you’ve made or the growth you’ve made in supercross. I know we joked about it in 2020. Salt Lake was new to you. But now you’re getting to the point where you’re winning races consecutively. I know hard work is the easy answer, but what do you think the real development here has been for you just on the technical side? Your supercross growth has been obvious and visual.

Obviously, I consider myself a pretty technical rider, so I think it wasn’t like if I could. I knew I could, I just had to figure things out. One of the big things was obviously my body just getting healthy. I think it’s safe to say I’m at 100 percent now and I’m able to do on the bike for the duration that I want to, and my body can sustain that. So, that’s a huge helping hand to be able to do what your mind wants your body to do. And honestly just getting more laps. It’s my second season. I’m still not stocked up on laps like some of the guys, more laps you just get better and better. Obviously, the little mistakes and stuff like that get eliminated, so it’s just kind of more time, I think.

Hunter, to follow up Christian’s question, he was right behind you. You were probably baiting him like, come on, test me. See what’s going to happen. How soon did you know that he wasn’t there?

Yeah. It was honestly like the next corner because that Yamaha is pretty loud. It’s a very distinctive noise and I didn’t hear it. The crowd obviously was a bit of a giveaway. I’m like, okay, something happened behind us. Then you see in your peripheral, I was like, okay, I guess he went down. Then it was just focus on myself, just click off consistent laps. There’s nothing I can do for championship hopes at that point. It’s just wherever he gets back to is wherever, and I just got to focus and win the thing now. Got a bit of a breather, so just don’t fumble that up.

You guys were tied even on the wins this year, four each. You take out Anaheim 3 and who knows where we’re at? Going into this last one, it’s probably whatever happens, happens. What do you think about this week?

Not much, honestly. What’s the points gap, 18 points now? So, as far as he’s concerned, he’s got a pretty safe race, really. I’m just going out to try and win and hopefully make it five wins this season. That’s all I can do, really. The chances of him getting less than 18 points or whatever, 19 points, it’s pretty unlikely. So just focus on myself and ride a bit of outdoors. One more day of supercross and enjoy the last day of supercross training for the year.

You are not one to make excuses, but coming into the beginning of the season you were not expecting to race West Coast. Do you feel that played any role really at the beginning? Maybe a little slow start?

No, not at all, I’m not going to sit here and go, ‘I didn’t win the championship because I was surprised to race the coast.’ I came in ready, I was there and stuff. We podiumed all the races. I think it’s only natural that you’re going to get a little better throughout the season. I wouldn’t say that’s got anything to do with it. Obviously, maybe a bit of bike setup. We changed a bit of suspension stuff and I’m really happy with the bike now, so maybe you could say that would have helped. But again, I was giving my 100 percent at all the first rounds as well, so not really.

On the showdown, you won the last time we were having the showdown, so how are you feeling going two for two this year and giving yourself that better shot at the championship?

Yeah, you said it. Obviously, it’s the best chance to give myself the best hopes for the championship. So, I’d just love to get another win, make it five for the season. That’s kind of all there is to it, to be honest.

Is it tough riding against guys that you don’t usually week by week, like with Craig and all the others that you’re usually against? Is it tougher mentally, physically against other guys like that?

I wouldn’t say. We race them all year through the summer in outdoors, so you kind of know everyone’s riding behavior and stuff. When to give guys room, when you have to force the issue with some guys in a spot where they can’t retaliate. So, I wouldn’t say it’s harder, it’s just obviously more better guys. So, it’s just kind of like outdoors.

 You’ve been riding very well the last few races. Part of me is a little curious, do you have a little bit of extra motivation? Obviously, Christian has been doing very well. He’s been getting a lot of attention this season, but is there a small part of you that is wanting to kind of remind everybody if not that for this crash earlier in this season, this championship might look a little different?

No, not really, I just want to win. It’s got nothing to do with what the people think, I could care less. I just want to go out and win. All I care about is my crew and my team and my family. I’m doing it for myself out there. Everyone that puts into it. Ask anyone on the grid. They’d say the same thing. You’re out there for yourself. You’re not trying to do it to get more Instagram followers or get more views or whatever. None of it even matters.