Hunter Lawrence begins his new US life this weekend as he makes his debut for Geico Honda at the biggest event in the world, the Motocross of Nations!
Lawrence makes the move full-time to the USA from this week onwards and the chatty and friendly Aussie is keen to make his mark on States and in supercross after a frustrating final season on the GP scene, that saw his dream of a world title end after just a few rounds thanks to injury.
We caught up with Lawrence to talk about his year, his hopes for next season in America and what he is expecting from this weekend at Red Bud.
Your year began decent but then went downhill in the middle of the year but you came back strong at the end, can you talk us through the ups and downs of what was probably a frustrating year for you?
It was extremely frustrating. We came in on pretty good form we were in a really good place to start the season but we got knocked on our backs with a virus for two months and after that we were getting back to our normal selves then I picked up three back to back injuries, that went from round three to 10 or 11 or something crazy like that. It’s been a nightmare of a season but we finished off strong. I’m feeling happy with how I am on the bike, my fitness is good and I am feeling really good and comfortable.
I’m happy that I dug myself out of a hole. I see a lot of guys they get injured once and to come back during the season they struggle. So, to come back from three injuries. I’m pretty proud of the work I have down and I am stoked on that.
Obviously you wanted to go for a world title in your final season in GPs, but to have that dip and be able to fight through shows a lot of mental strength too?
For sure, it was heart breaking, it just felt like everything that could have gone wrong, did. There were so many factors that were out of my hands, I just couldn’t do anything about them. But that’s life , maybe it’s something I had to go through for the future, it’s easy to be mentally strong and positive when everything is going great but I have dug through it, I put in countless hours, blood, sweat and tears and it was good to finish strong.
So we are looking forward to the up and coming challenges and I just want to stay solid throughout the whole season and I think I have a really good chance next year. I have an amazing team around me, great bike, great structure, just everything about the Geico Honda team, it’s solid.
I can’t wait to get some races under my belt with those guys, it’s a great place to flourish.
And you are riding for Geico this weekend, so do you feel the testing you did back in July will have helped?
Yeah it will a bit, I am a lot faster since then, I came here to recover then and I couldn’t ride for 30 minutes so we were doing short tests. We did a small test day on Wednesday this week, but it was pretty muddy and flat but the team has great experience and I think we have a badass bike, I can’t wait to go racing.
This weekend I think a lot of people forget you won your class last year against Zach, this weekend Aaron Plessinger has spoken about just Ferrandis being a threat not the GP guys, does that motivate you?
I’m excited to have Aaron and Dylan here. Aaron is obviously the double champ so congrats to him he banged out a stellar season. So it’s cool to see where I am against them because I think they are the fastest guys in the 250 class. I’m excited and ready to go out there and give it to them – I can only try!
The track looks massive and flowing, you must be excited event just to get out there and ride the circuit?
Its pretty sick, it was a thing to come to the GPs to ride on the tracks you see in the GPs so it’s cool to come to the historical, world-famous Red Bud. I got to experience it this year ( watching) on July 4th weekend, it’s really cool, so hopefully they go for it again this weekend, I can’t wait, you have Red Bud fans and some crazy European fans, so I think it should be really cool!
And with Australia what are your goals as a team?
I think if we can snag a top five, I will be more than happy. We have a good team, a young team, the boys they are not doing overseas races and stuff and I know when I did my first overseas races, you have the raves and stuff. They have both done the Nations once each so it should be cool, I think we can have a good team, the boys have been riding really good this year, if we can be top five I think that’s a solid result. We have to stay in reality, there are a lot of good teams and anything can happen.
Switching to supercross, will you be riding Monster Cup or when will you start your preparations for the indoor scene?
No I won’t be jumping on a 450 for that. I will have another week or two of motocross testing to get fully comfortable on the bike then start for a couple of weeks on supercross to get my feet wet then have a bit of time off! It’s been a long season from November last year so it’s been long!
And your technique looks like it should suit supercross, had you done much in Australia?
Yeah I did it in Australia and everyone tells me that my technique suits it so I hope that’s right! I like supercross, I enjoy it, it’s fun and I look forward to it.
You worked with Ken Roczen’s dad in GPs, so will Ken be able to show you the ropes of racing over here?
Yeah me and Kenny are good mates and stuff and with Ryan Villopoto so between those guys and the team itself, they have multiple titles under their belts so they will be able to tell me what I am doing wrong and right at the same time.
Reece Boal, your mechanic and good friend, will he be texting you tips throughout next season?!
Yeah he will be texting me the usual guff! But yeah it’s been a good year with him, it’s just another thing I am bummed out on, it was going to be his last year, last year but when we could work together he jumped back in and I wanted to win a title to give him the best year possible for his last year. I’m bummed on that because he is such a good kid and I care for him so much, he’s awesome. Hopefully we can finish it off in a solid way this weekend.
Have you any plans to come back to GPs and go for a world title 5-19 years from now or just focus on the USA?
For the next three-year no, but after that, who knows? I might love it and never want to leave America, like you’ve seen with Kenny, Musqin and Pourcel but we will see.