Features 9 Jan 2024

Debrief: 2024 Supercross Rd1 Anaheim

Main event winners Lawrence and Hampshire recall first round.

Winning Anaheim 1 is one of the most elusive achievements in the sport, which is exactly what Jett Lawrence did on debut in 450SX and what RJ Hampshire managed to do as he aims for a first 250SX crown, opening the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Championship in convincing fashion. Both riders were available to the media following the main events for this Debrief feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

History was made tonight. You were the first one in the 50 year history of Supercross to win your first, actual 450SX race. I want you to talk a little about what that means to you and what it means to your brand, Honda and Red Bull as well…

Yeah, no, I found that out once I got up on the podium by Will [Christien] and it’s a unreal thing to kind of grasp, really, just because you just think with how many years this sport’s been around, you thought someone has done it before. But, it’s cool, the sport’s took that many years for someone to do it and I’m definitely grateful and I’m happy to do it for Honda and Red Bull. They’ve been behind me for a very long time now, so it’s good to give back in that type of way and get up in the history books for them. It’s an awesome feeling, a good start to the season, and hopefully we can just kind of keep doing the same or just kind of maintain, keep maintaining and keep charging.

You said on the podium you were nervous today. Once you got into the lead after getting the holeshot, were you still nervous?

No, obviously after the first few corners went away a bit cause it’s kind of, obviously those first few turns are pretty hectic, but once I was able to see kind of clear track and know that Jason [Anderson] wasn’t too close to make a pass, it was kind of ‘alright, let’s get a gap’. I think we got to like three seconds, so, ‘alright, let’s see, try and hold it here and just not make any silly mistakes and just kind of conserve energy just in case anything happens at the end’. These guys are pretty fit, so they keep going the whole moto, so it’s kind of just, not waiting, but like just, yeah, storing energy for the last few laps, but I was able to have it be enough to get that gap that I could just kind of cruise it in, thankfully.

There’s been talk about a comment you made about 72 wins and I know some people in high places were like, ‘well, he needs to get one first’. Do you have anything to say about that now that you have one and does your thoughts on that change?

No and, in all seriousness about that, I mean, it’s just, it probably might not get done. I mean, it’s a lot of race wins, but coming in, you’ve gotta set such a high goal for yourself that’s gonna make you go a little crazy for it and make sure you work hard. So, it’s not meaning like, ‘I’m gonna do it’, it’s more of just like I wanna have myself a goal because if I didn’t have a goal, then I’d just be happy to be here and just race around and finish whatever position I wanted to. It doesn’t change anything really, I mean, the people can say what they say, it doesn’t really affect me really – we see where we are now. It was just more of a kind of setting a goal for myself just to make me make sure I wake up every day and have that on my mind, make me go push that little bit extra, and have that self motivation for myself and so far it’s paid off. We’ll see… These guys are really, really good, so it could be the opposite next week and I could suck [laughs]. I don’t know.

For math’s sake, that’s now 71 to go…

Yeah, I can’t count that high [laughs] – once we get to two digits, I’m done! Someone else will have to keep count of the tally…

I know you want to win every race that you’re in, but is it possible that sometimes you learn more running second? And if so, did you learn anything in that heat running behind [Cooper] Webb?

I learned my suspension is way too stiff, learnt that! Yeah, I mean, I think, like the saying, I mean, you learn your most stuff on the days you lose really. So, we’re also gonna try and win as much as we can, but yeah, it’s, it’s a lot harder to win every single round of Supercross… There’s a reason why it hasn’t been done yet, so we’re just gonna make sure we’re coming in each weekend. Just keep on gathering information for myself, learning off other riders, learning the way they race and just dealing with whatever situation I’m of dealt with. I mean, if it’s a third place it’s a third place for that night, if it’s a fourth it’s a fourth. I think that’s a big thing, learning and adapting with the situations you’re in, even if the bike’s off. In that heat race I kept kind of pushing a little bit just because I was already a little uncomfortable with the suspension, but I kept trying to make it work a bit and it wasn’t quite it. I ended up making a silly mistake, but nothing too crazy, but definitely excited to learn more throughout the season.

Many of the media pieces you did for Feld Entertainment, you spoke about racing Eli [Tomac] and becoming one of these guys… Here you are on the podium, you’ve beat arguably the greatest field we’ve had in a very, very long time. Does that set it in now or is it like a season thing for you, you want to do this every single round?

It’s a season thing for me. I mean, you look at last year, I mean, Eli had a few bad rounds where each had seventh, a fourth or a fifth. And that next round he comes back and he wins it. So that Eli/Jett battle will definitely come soon because he’s a two-time champion for a reason, so I’m looking forward to it. But then again, also, we have how many other guys? We have Cooper out there, we have these dudes [Jason Anderson and Chase Sexton], so I mean, it’s a, a stacked field. It’s definitely cool to get a win, but it’s more of a season thing for me just to try and get the championship at the end of the day.


Image: Octopi Media.

RJ Hampshire, another big trophy for your daughter with 58 starts and your third win. How sweet is it to bring this win to your team?

So awesome. A lot of ups and downs in my career and just being able to show up to a race and being confident and taking what the night gave me. Yeah, of course, I felt like I could win, but wasn’t gonna pressure it. I had my spots tonight that were really good, so yeah, I’m just super-stoked to have a red plate under the Husky rig. That’s huge, for myself and the team. Goes to show, massive props to the whole Austrian group, because we had an awesome bike this year.

In the pre-season media sessions, I think we talked a little bit about how the 250 class is just a hard reset this season and now you’ve got the early momentum. Do you feel that? Do you feel like it was really important to establish yourself on the podium and get this win?

Not at all because I know how fast it can change and how up and down it is. So yeah, just go to the same plan this week, you know, the same plan we had all season long or all off-season, stay level headed and take next weekend the same as we took this weekend. Stay in the fight, give myself a chance – if the win’s there, awesome, if it’s not, take what the night gives me. Yeah, I’m getting up there in age, so I kind of learned that, at times I learned that the hard way, so yeah and just try to enjoy this, especially enjoy an Anaheim 1 victory, which was massive. Actually, I just found out this weekend that our team manager [Nathan Ramsey] has two Anaheim 1 wins… I feel bad, because I thought Nate’s only had one win his whole career and then I find out he’s had about 14 [laughs]! So, it’s funny, and cool to have an A1 win back under the Husqvarna tent.

How cool did it feel jumping across the finish line and you pulling a big gap pretty early?

Yeah, it was awesome. I had my strong points tonight – I was really fast in the whoops, which I haven’t said in years, so I was stoked on that. I just focused on that. Get through the whoops, pull a gap, and then manage the rest of the race. Once I saw my pit board at like +9, I was like, ‘dang, man, this is getting real, like you’re about to win A1’. I don’t know, if you saw my last lap in the whoops, I’m pretty sure I rolled every single one of them! It was awesome just to have that speed and the confidence in my motorcycle to go out there and do it.

To get the win for Husky, you’ve been carrying the weight for that team, 250 wise, really. I’m sure that means a lot to you and now you’re in a position where you feel like you can probably get multiple wins.

Yeah, it’s awesome. Truthfully, we have the best group of guys that I’ve worked with since I came here in 2020. You guys don’t see behind the windows, but everybody that was pretty much here whenever I first signed with the team is gone. Except Murph [Sean Murphy], he’s the one that’s kept us held together. Man, the staff that we have and the personnel and the belief that we all have in each other is special and man, that goes a long way and it shows, you know, whenever we show up on the weekends. You come over to the Husqvarna pit and you see a bunch of smiles on our faces, we enjoy what we do, we love our group and man, just excited for this.

You seemed to ride with a lot more maturity tonight. I don’t know if that’s something specifically you’ve been working on in the off-season or just the fact that old Rick might be actually be getting old?

I’m definitely getting old, but I had that maturity last year. I was just racing a dude that was really, really good and crushed me every weekend. Yeah, I don’t maybe take the risks I would have taken whenever I was, you know, 20 and fresh – injuries hurt a little bit more these days – but hey, listen, I’m gonna do whatever I can to give myself the position on the weekends and in the main events. The big thing for me is just giving myself a chance so I have the opportunity to put in a good result on the weekends.