He might be the youngest rider in the class but fourteen year old, Jett Lawrence has showed he’s not scared to battle with the more experienced riders in the EMX250 Championship.
Most fourteen year old’s in Europe contest the EMX125 series instead but Lawrence decided to jump straight up from the 85cc to the 250cc. As the Aussie will be moving to America in 2019 after signing a deal with Geico Honda it makes sense for him to get used to the 250cc before heading to the States.
After the disappointment at not being able to qualify at the first round of the EMX250 series, Lawrence has put that well and truly behind him.
At the last round of the series, Lawrence was very impressive as he ended up going eleventh overall and crossed the line in seventh in the second moto.
We sat down with Lawrence as he was spectating at the MXGP of Germany as there wasn’t an EMX250 round there.
Gatedrop: Jett, you’re racing the EMX250 series this year. First of all can you just explain why that’s the case? Most fourteen year old’s in Europe do the EMX125 series!
Jett Lawrence: Well, Suzuki doesn’t have a 125cc obviously so it’d be hard to try and get one. I’ve always rode two strokes but I wanted to ride a 250cc and I got to ride one. I had a bit of a play on one and I kind of liked it so from there I decided to go and ride a 250cc. From that moment I made a decision that I wanted to race the EMX250 class, ADAC Youngsters Cup and get more experience from the older dudes in EMX. They’ve done it a lot more than I have and there’s ex pro’s and stuff so their experience for me would be really good to take on to America.
Gatedrop: I know you made the decision really early last year to race the EMX250 class but then obviously Suzuki pulled out. After they dropped out was your future up in the air or where you always set to race the EMX250 class no matter what?
Jett Lawrence: Yeah, that was a bit of a surprise with Suzuki dropping out. I’d still love to be with their team because it was like a family almost and everyone is really good to each other. When I heard that Suzuki were dropping out, it was still in the air like you said but I still really wanted to go 250cc. It didn’t really go into my head that I should have gone to a 125cc, I wanted to do on what I was planning and do it.
Gatedrop: This is your third year in Europe now. When you first made the move to Belgium just how did you adapt because it’s totally different from what you’re used too?
Jett Lawrence: When I first came over I obviously had to adapt to the weather. It was mainly the weather because in Australia it’s full on hot, you’d barely wear a thin jumper. Coming from that to coming over here were you basically have to wear five layers to try and stay warm in the winter, it’s definitely a big change.
We came over here with all our Australian clothing, our shoes were really thin and the clothing was thin so it was a bit hard at first. After a while we got our clothes sorted and then from there it wasn’t too bad but to start off with the cold weather was difficult for sure. Trying to ride in the cold was so hard, even pulling the clutch, I couldn’t feel my hands after just a twenty minute warm up. It’s crazy.
Gatedrop: A lot of Aussies tend to come over and if the results aren’t good, after a year they decide they don’t like it and go back home. The Hunter family are tough cookies and seem to take Europe for what it is? Obviously, you having your family here must help too!
Jett Lawrence: Yeah, well if we failed here it would have sucked because in Australia we sold our house, we basically sold everything so we couldn’t go back to Australia. We sold everything basically so we had nothing to go back too. Dad said that if we come over here that’d we’d come over and do it properly, that we’d have to fully commit to it. We done that and we came out not too bad.
Now we have a contract in America with Geico so we had good luck there to get that. Hunter and I, our main goals were to from Australia to Europe first. If you look at everyone from Australia that’s gone straight to America, they haven’t been as successful as Chad Reed or Byrne. They came to Europe first and then went from there to America and they succeeded quite good. In Europe, they have tough conditions and especially in the winter. That’s where you get most of the stuff you learn and the race craft you get over here is just unbelievable.
Gatedrop: Just on the EMX250 class, for a 14 year old and being the youngest rider in the class, you’re riding really well. In the last round in Latvia you were on it. Can you just talk me through your day?
Jett Lawrence: Well, my qualifying wasn’t the best. My dad wasn’t very happy with that so I had making up to do or I’d have had to sit in a seventeen hour drive with Dad annoyed about my riding. Having the thirty-fifth gate pick, I was out wide, trying to get a good start was like one in a million basically. I didn’t have the best of starts in the first moto, but I ended up coming from thirtieth to fifteenth. It was still a good ride.
In the second moto, a lot of riders went quite wide so I went as close to the inside as I could and the jump was perfect, got my gears prime and hooked it around the outside. I ended up starting around tenth or so. From there, I tried not to freak out being at the front. I made a few passes and ended up getting behind Martin Barr and Mathys Boisrame was behind me. He ended up getting me, I tried staying with them but man, those boys were on a charge, at the end they were absolutely gone.
I was a bit wrecked, being at the front, your heart rate is a bit higher so I was a bit tired at the end. Facchetti ended up coming really strong at the end and passed me on the last lap. But it was still a good finish for me, my goal was to try and get in the top ten during the middle of the year but I’ve done it at the fourth round so I’m really happy with this.
Gatedrop: Just on the second moto, like you said you were battling with Martin Barr. I mean there’s sixteen years difference there, he’s more than double your own age. What was it like battling with him and the EMX250 must be a great series for you as it gives you that opportunity?
Jett Lawrence: Yeah, I was picking up so much stuff when I was behind him. I got so much from his experience, his line choice and his passing. It was quite cool because I was behind Boisrame and Barr when they were battling, I had the first-class seat kind of thing getting to watch it! I got to pick up so much stuff from them guys and it’s good to learn from them. As you said he’s more than twice my age but stuff like this is good for me. He obviously has the experience and has more than me so it’s good to have these kind of guys in my races.
Gatedrop: For the rest of the season have you got any goals you want to achieve before the series ends?
Jett Lawrence: Before the series ends, I’m hoping to either get a podium or if I end up getting top five’s consistently then I’ll be happy with that. But I’d love to get on the box by the end of the season.
Gatedrop: As you mentioned, you’ve signed a deal with Geico Honda for next year in America. Have you any plans what you’ll be doing over there during your first year? I’m guessing you’ll race the Amateur stuff over there and practice Supercross all year!
Jett Lawrence: When we first get over there, I’ll practice a bit of motocross because it’ll be my first time riding a Honda, I’ve never ridden a Honda before. I think I’ll be having a little play at Supercross, I’ll probably spend a full year on Supercross just training because I’ve never done it before. I’ll try catch up with the other American kids who have done a lot of Supercross since they were little. I’ll be mainly racing Motocross during my first year over there though and then training on Supercross.
Gatedrop: Last question, obviously you have Hunter as a brother. Do you ride much with him and it must it help a lot?
Jett Lawrence: Big thanks to him, if I didn’t have him I wouldn’t be where I am right now. He’s kind of gone the hard way which will help me. He’s riding Honda now so he’s learnt the hard way. Whatever mistake Dad makes, or the suspension settings on his bike. Dad will know not to make the same mistakes on my bike. Although we are two different riders, Hunter is quite technical and uses his balance. I’m a pin it kind of guy and just try and go as fast as I can. But the stuff I’ve picked up from Hunter, I can’t thank him enough. I’m the luckiest person to have him as a brother.
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Pics: Niek Kamper