Features 5 Mar 2024

Debrief: 2024 Supercross Rd8 Daytona

Main event winners Lawrence and Vialle recall eighth round.

Rebounding from a disappointing round last weekend, Jett Lawrence rode a flawless Daytona 450SX main event to take the win, while Tom Vialle rose to the occasion in the 250SX class, taking his first-career supercross win. Both riders were available to the media following the main events for this Debrief feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

Jett, congratulations on the win here in Daytona. The track was technical here tonight. Winning in Daytona is a huge milestone for any rider, but talk about getting it done in your first attempt in the 450SX category.

Yeah it was awesome, especially to get it on my first attempt. I knew the track was a gnarly one, it wasn’t easy to ride in the first place, so I was super happy, and especially kind of how it happened, going down to the wire with the gates dropping and having my tire cover on and trying to get that off quickly. So I was tweaking before the race, but calmed down get back to super team. That was awesome even though how difficult the track was, so super pumped.

We’ve seen you have those few mistakes in the main events this season, I think there was another close one in the race tonight. Just talk us through managing that, pushing the pace but not crashing and throwing away wins.

The biggest thing was focusing. The last few weekends were just basic rhythms and stuff. It wasn’t a difficult section, I was just kind of going through the motions and I think that’s what happened. The easier stuff is obviously easier for me to do, so I was just trying to use the 450 power to catch my breath. But it was good to go back to work this week on just staying focused and hittimg my marks. Just having those times where if it isn’t right, just losing a tenth or so, not wanting to be so perfect always [and risking mistakes]. Usually, if I’m a bit off, I’ll still try and go for stuff, whereas this weekend, if I wasn’t perfect I’d back out. I’ve learned from those mistakes that have kind of cost me in the previous races.

You are now literally the only active rider to beat Eli [Tomac] in the last decade here in Daytona. What was going through your mind, other than wanting to pass him when you guys were in a battle?

I was more focused on trying to not crash in those rhythms, really. I was so focused on hitting my marks. I wasn’t really focused on passing, I was more focused on hitting my marks and then making those passes when the time came. I just knew I had to hit my marks and get as close as I could to try and force a mistake, or maybe make a move in a rhythm or the whoops. I didn’t have a set plan on where I was going to make any passes.

You did the sight lap, then changed the rear tyre. Can you talk us through that approach and the whole issue with getting the cover off at the very last second.

Looking back on it now, I kind of wish I didn’t go out for the sight lap. Then I wouldn’t have had to worry about changing the rear wheel, [laughs]. I felt like it was a very big gain to go and look at the track. You can get a really good idea of how it’s going to form up from the sight lap. I always like to get a good look at it, I hate going out blind.

Could you feel your mechanic pulling the tyre cover off and did it mess you up at all?

No, it didn’t mess me up too much. I already had in my head about coming through the field if it didn’t come off. But the team luckily enough got it off just in time before the gate drop. I wasn’t even fully sat on the bike properly before the gate drop, cause my butt slid back on the street. nLuckily our bike is super fast, when it hit the dirt it just ripped. I think that definitely helped. But I think the team handled it really well for how stressful it was.

You’ve worked with your mechanic now for a handul of years. Talk about how that relationship is and just trusting each other in those situations.

I think it makes us stronger. I always knew we were going to get it done in time. He’s such a good mechanic, so I don’t think that will ever really affect our relationship at all, I think it’s just going to make it stronger. As the years have gone on we’ve just gotten closer and closer, he’s like family now, so yeah.

Unfortunately your brother Hunter pulled off halfway through the main event. I’m just curious, do you notice things like that, and is it distracting at all?

I definitely noticed, I saw him on the start straight pulling off the track. History always seems to repeat itself. Whenever he does bad, I’ve gone and won. So I think most of the time that it almost helps. It drives me that it’s my time. It’s like it’s my time to hold it together for the family, cause Hunter has done so much for me. So it motivates me to even more to try and win for him and my family.

Do you know if he’s okay?

I haven’t asked yet, but I got a thumbs up from Lars [Lindstrom], so thank god.


Image: Octopi Media.

Tom, brilliant run here in Daytona getting it done. I knou had to work for it too, and battle Cameron McAdoo for the lead which you did, and you were able to pull it off. Do you think that the track conditions were similar to what you’ve dealt with in Europe?

I mean, it was pretty tough to be fair. I started like around eighth or sixth and then I passed pretty quickly and I was behind Cameron, and he was riding pretty good. So I tried to stay in it and he actually did a mistake in the rhythm. That’s where I could pass him. But, yeah, the track was kind of sandy. I didn’t feel so good in the heat race. But, somehow in the main event, I rode pretty well and when I passed first, it was pretty nice and I just had a clear track and I could ride my own lines.

Tom before the Detroit opener, we kind of talked about last year being such a learning experience, everything from the race day schedule, the track, the environment, everything. Have things been slowed down for you? Just talk us through how have things changed for you in your second year?

Yeah you know, last year was only my first year and it was pretty tough. To be honest, I kind of struggled a little bit and I feel way more safer on the bike. I kind of enjoyed riding supercross way more this year. Today was supercross but not really. So I want to go back to a normal supercross and see what we can do. I got P3 last weekend, but I want to fight like for the win on a normal supercross. That’s really my goal for the next weekend.

I think last year here you had a good start, but you kind of crashed out early. Did you do anything different? Like bike setting wise, training, anything different or was it just that you’ve just grown as a rider from last year’s race here?

Yeah, I mean, I got my experience, of course, on the track but it was way different than last year. This year was way more sandy and it was kind of more like an outdoor track. Last year I think I had a shot and I crashed like, two or three laps in. I just had a way better year this year and I’m pretty happy to do it.

I think you and Cameron [McAdoo] didn’t do the sight lap, right? Just walk me through that process.

I mean, I didn’t really get a great start. Actually, I think Cameron was a little bit better than me. But I just didn’t want to get my tire muddy and I didn’t want to slide on the gate. They fixed a little bit of the track, so actually the first lap wasn’t too bad.

Did you change anything from the heat race to increase the speed or was it kind of the same and you just had different results?

No, the bike was the same. Each race the track was way different. It was a little bit faster, but I feel like it was way more muddy. They kind of spread the track and all the dirt and the mud was on the track. By the main it was more like, more like slow. So I kind of like when it was slower and more technical the track. So I didn’t change anything, I just actually felt the best all day doing the main.

With a third and a first, you’ve got an average finish of second over the last two weeks. You take out the Detroit thing and you are now in the points battle. Has that set in yet? What’s the momentum carrying forward?

Yeah, of course. I mean, after the, the crash in Detroit, it was nice to be back on the podium. But the championship is still long. I think we are pretty tight. So it’s nice to be kind of back [in it] and we’re gonna keep on training and keep on fighting for the rest of the races.