Features 24 Jan 2023

Debrief: 2023 Supercross San Diego

Main event winners Tomac and Lawrence recall Saturday's round.

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac and Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence both made it two victories in a row to start the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, extending their respective 450SX and 250SX West points leads in San Diego. Both riders were available to the media following the races for this Debrief feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

Eli, you come into a new building, we’ve been on this property before [formerly Qualcomm Stadium], but a new building. We always ask you about these records that you’re accomplishing, but another new one, congratulations.

Yeah, it was a good first time here for us, and to be honest, I never really had good results at Petco either, I always struggled a little bit, just in the tighter stadium and tighter floor there. But, I was excited to come here and get it going, and it was nice to be on a good surface this weekend, the dirt was nice, there was a couple of rocks here and there. But, I would say for the most part it was nice dirt. It was another good weekend for us.

You had that extra week there with Oakland being postponed, what was the program like? Did you just roll into it like normal, do anything special because of the off-weekend, try some different things, or was it pretty standard?

Honestly, we were just chasing around practice tracks to ride out here in California, I’ve been based out here. We’ve been going out to the high desert and Hemet, that’s it, and we one or two mud days in Corona. It feels like we’ve been practising mud for six or so weeks now, so it’s nice to be on a good surface.

Cooper [Webb] did stay close, throughout the lappers and all that, what was the second half of the race like with him right behind you?

Well, he just kept me honest the whole time, I knew it was going to be like that. A couple of [lapped riders] were just battling in the bowl turns and there was nothing I could really do, but that’s just the way it goes when you’re in front. Some tracks are a little bit easier to get around the lappers than others, but it keeps you on your toes and you’ve got to focus in that situation, because, you know he’s right there. But like I said, that’s just the way it goes when the track funnels guys in certain ways, into the main line.

The one consolation that your competition usually gets is a slow start to supercross. Now looking at you ride, you can put that bike anywhere you want. Is this as close to perfect as you can be with your bike, your fitness and where you are in the season right now?

In the sense of not chasing the bike setting for round two, three, four, we’re not there yet. Usually, I’m chasing my tail after round one, so yeah, the new bike has been solid.

Your performance these last two races and the momentum you have going your way, how important is it to keep ahold of that and keep it going into next weekend?

Well, I can just say it’s a great start for us. You just never know, going into a season with a new platform, honestly you just never know. Like I said, we just happened to get it right this time.

You’re a couple of wins off tying Ricky Carmichael for third all-time in supercross wins. Championship is the goal, but when do the records start to creep into your mind, where do they fall in importance?

Well, I guess it’s if I get there [laughs], so that’s it, I don’t want to think about that at all, I said that last week man. I don’t want to think about that, I just want to attack each track, each weekend.


Image: Octopi Media.

Jett, your starts were really, really good. The first heat race in Anaheim, we saw you talk about it on the podium. Had a little bit of a mix-up there, but since then they’ve been really good, even in qualifying. Is it a change or is it just everything coming together, the bike, you? They’re becoming automatic. Just take me through where you are at with the starts, because they’ve been great.

Starts have been pretty good, it could be just lady luck [laughs], but no they’ve been going good, like I was surprised myself, because I didn’t practice any starts in the two weeks, just because every track we went to was muddy and rainy and that stuff. So, it was a bit hard to try and do starts in the past two weeks. I think they’ve just been clicking, the bike is feeling awesome, and the track being dry and that stuff. Hopefully, we can keep it going, there’s obviously going to be one start where it doesn’t go to plan, but we’ll make sure we try and keep that out, and not have one of those. So, we’ll wait and see.

The end result is the same obviously from the opening round for you, with the main event win, but today appeared to go smoother in general. How would you compare the two rounds so far for you? You were pretty much flawless today.

Yeah, I think the biggest thing with Anaheim 1 was the track was just very unpredictable. You didn’t know what was going to happen no matter what, right? You could have taken it the lap before, but it shot you different every time. Where [this round] compared to Anaheim was definitely a lot easier in my eyes, everything was fairly easy to get. At the start it was obviously a lot trickier because of the deep ruts and that, it was hard. But once we got closer to the main, those turns got a little bit harder. I think this weekend I just was able to go a little bit more my speed that’s comfortable, that faster speed. Where Anaheim was kind of more like trail riding almost. You just were trying to make it through the rhythms, through everything. I think RJ and Cameron could also say the same thing, it was just kind of like making it through Anaheim with those sketchy curbs in the up-ramps and into some of the berms. I felt like that one we played very, very smart. Then this weekend, we were able to do our normal speed which was a big difference. I had a blast kind of going back to normal speed with some of those rhythms.

You’ve been in this class for a while and you’ve been on this bike for a while. It has made some improvements and some advancements and some part changes, but now that you’re a couple years into this and things are just kind of going the way that they’re going, how is it for you to not just think, alright, ‘it’s going to go this way’and not let your guard down a bit?

Man, you made me feel real old with that one [laughs]. No, that’s the biggest thing with racing, each year is never the same. It’s always different, and now I feel like I’m one with the bike. Last year we got the bike pretty good, and we kind of looped all the way back around to the same setting. We had a few little part changes and that stuff, but nothing too major, I think the biggest thing is being calmer just helps me. Obviously the biggest thing is putting myself in a good position to have a good chance of a podium or winning. So, I think that’s the biggest thing, using all the stuff you’ve learned and making sure you stay calm. What young Jett would have done, would’ve just been trying to send it and set the world’s fastest lap time for no reason, so now it’s just kind playing the smarter route and obviously just trying to make it through the night and just kind of gauge off of some of the other boys body language and how they’re trying to attack and stuff like that.

When you get the lead like you have the last two weeks, are we seeing, ‘I’m going to try to get as big a gap as I can possibly get’, or are you really trying to manage it, like, ‘as long as I keep them there, or I inch away slightly, that’s all I need to do’?

It all kind of depends, I didn’t really get to see who was in second at the time, but I ended up hearing it was Phil. So, go him [laughs]. But, as a few laps went past, I seen McAdoo was there. So it kind of all depends, obviously for the main guys on this coast it’s RJ [Hampshire] and Cameron, so it’s kind of like, if you have a bad start, that’s who the main guys are that you’re looking for, because those are guys that can do it. We all do a similar pace, so it’s always like, where are they at on the track? So, this weekend I could see RJ was a little bit back on the start, but I mean, Cameron was right there from the start, I think just behind Phil. It’s just kind of going off what I see, and what I see in those glimpses of how they are with body attacking. I’m pretty sure it stayed fairly the same, the gap, for most of the time. I think when Cameron made those mistakes in those rhythms, I think that’s when I maybe pulled a bit. It kind of just depends where I’m at on the track to really kind of put through how I’m going to do my race.

Snapdragon stadium, it’s new stadium, but a lot of history on this land with Qualcomm [previous stadium], but this is all new. It was a sell out crowd tonight and fans were really into it. What does it feel like for you guys to come into a new place like this where there is a lot of energy and it’s fun for the fans, fun for all of us to figure out a new floor plan and a new track? I know you’re still new to a lot of these places, especially on the west coast. You missed a couple years on the east. What’s it like coming into a place like this with this kind of energy, sold-out crowd, somewhere new?

It’s pretty cool, on the way here when we were driving, obviously, O Show [Johnny O’Mara] was in the car and he was talking about how many times he raced here, and Ricky [Carmichael] also. And I was talking with RV [Ryan Villopoto], and he was saying he never got to race at Petco or anything. He raced here, and he retired in 2014, and I think he said the year after it changed to Petco. So it’s kind of cool the history that has taken place here, I had no idea. So that’s kind of the funny thing, I’ve learned all about it this morning with O Show’s history lesson, but it’s cool. The crowd was sick today, they were awesome. Just having that new stadium feeling, I felt like was something new but also pretty sick.

First Triple Crown of the year [next weekend at Anaheim 2], really cool for the fans. I think fans really enjoy it. As a rider, not always so much, but what do you think?

We’re just waiting to get there, man. You know how the Triple Crowns have been [laughs]. We’re looking forward to them, those ones are always exciting because you have the short break in between. It kind of breaks up that rhythm a bit, we’re looking forward to Anaheim 2, I’m just going into it with an open mind.