News 10 Jun 2024

The approach Hunter Lawrence now has as the red plate holder

All focus ahead for the new 450 class championship leader.

When Hunter Lawrence crossed the finish line in the first moto at Thunder Valley, he not only claimed his first career 450 moto win, but he also provisionally took over the championship lead. Though a P2 finish in the second moto wasn’t enough to claim his maiden overall win, Lawrence locked down a six-point advantage as the new championship leader in AMA Pro Motocross.

Holding the red plate on a 450 now for the first time in his career, Lawrence has immediately established himself as a true championship threat in his rookie season. But despite the heightened moment in the Australian’s career, Lawrence always believed this performance on a 450 was in him.

Image: Octopi Media.

“I’ve never had, in the past few years, doubts in my ability,” said Lawrence. “It’s never if I can do it, it’s just when. I think that’s kind of been my deal my whole career. No one except haters maybe, but everyone that matters in my circle never doubted that I could do it. I don’t know, I’m in the trenches so it’s tougher to get an outside perspective on it. I’m just head down, bum up and just in the trenches so I’m focused at the job at hand.”

Through his first three races on a 450 in Pro Motocross, Lawrence has gone 2-3-2-4-1-2 and has found himself amidst a battle for the lead in almost every moto. His first moto win at Thunder Valley came after stalking long-time 250 championship rival Justin Cooper for over 20 minutes before pouncing into the lead.

It seemed at though we’d see a re-run of the script from the first moto as Cooper led from the start of the second moto and again for over 20 minutes after a brief battle with Chase Sexton ended when Sexton crashed. Hunter Lawrence then closed up on Cooper but had a different problem to deal with, his brother. Jett Lawrence turned the tables on his older brother to pass Hunter before Hunter could pass Cooper and then Jett immediately got Cooper as well.

The brothers put on quite a show out front in the closing stages as a still wounded Jett Lawrence tried to keep Hunter behind. They crossed the line barely a second apart, but it was Jett who had the upper hand and won the overall with it.

Image: Octopi Media.

Having to battle his brother is nothing new for Hunter Lawrence who fought Jett Lawrence for the 2022 Pro Motocross title in the 250 class. Being teammates at Team Honda HRC and training with each other every day, Hunter sees firsthand what Jett is doing and knows the fight between the two will be tough.

“Yeah, for sure, but he knows all of my weaknesses as well,” said Lawrence about using Jett’s weaknesses against him. “I’ll be honest, we don’t have that many weaknesses. And you know, Dazzy [Darren Lawrence, father] always says, ‘Hey, Hunter is doing this better than you, hey Jett’s doing this better than you.’ So there really is no secrets. Everything’s out on the table and it’s a very fair and level playing field. That’s how he raised us is, ‘You boys settle it on the track as athletes. The better athlete will be the one that wins and it’s up to you at that point. I’m going to give you all the information and advice, and it’s up to you out there on the track.’”

Thanks to a rough day at the office for Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence now finds himself with the red plate on a 450 for the first time in his career. While eyes have been fixated on the Jett Lawrence versus Chase Sexton showdown, Hunter Lawrence has found his way right into the middle of the championship fight.

Now that he has the lead though, Lawrence reckons he’s taking it all in stride and is remaining metered about what holding the red plate after the third round actually means.

Image: Octopi Media.

“It doesn’t feel any different,” said Lawrence. “I’m sure it seems like a big thing, but like I said, I’m in the trenches. It feels the same, just a different background. It’s not like the red plate gets heavy or anything like that. I’m just racing. My job is to race. Red plate or no red plate, my week still looks the same.”

The big thing for Hunter is he’s coming to a round at High Point where he’s seen his fair share of success. Back in 2019 during his first full season in the USA, High Point is where Lawrence first won a moto on American soil going 1-3 on the day to finish P2 behind Adam Cianciarulo.

Lawrence won High Point last year as well en route to winning the 250 class championship in 2023. As he continues to take each weekend one at a time, he will now do so with the added pressure of holding onto the championship lead. But just as getting a moto win ticked off the list was something he always believed was right there for him, Hunter Lawrence might just have the confidence and speed to make a run at being the fourth different rookie in the last five years to win the 450 class title.