450 US Nationals preview – can anyone beat Jett Lawrence?

Image: Honda | Words: Jonathan McCready

Can anyone beat Jett Lawrence in AMA 450 Motocross? In 2023 the answer was no, and really, why should it be any different this year?

Eli Tomac was back in but is now out injured, so when he returns there will be question marks if he can return to his title winning speed halfway through a season and Chase Sexton will be adapting to the KTM outdoors, and couldn’t quite beat Jett on the same machinery last year!

On the face of it, Jett has the chance to go 22-0 again, but you still need a lot of things to go your way! No mechanicals, no first turn pile-ups, no flat tires and no “off” moto’s or even mud races, but even taking into account Jett might not go 22-0 he is still the flat out favourite for 2024.

One of his closest competitors aside from Chase Sexton could well be his brother Hunter, always a great outdoor rider Hunter was on fire last season on the 250, and while it may be a stretch for the title, he might be a guy that can pressure Jett for moto wins as we saw in the 250 class.

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Sexton is a question mark, not because of his talent but due to how quickly he can find settings on the KTM – it took him all year to get there in supercross and he won’t have time for that in outdoors with only 11 rounds and Jett coming in on the same bike and probably settings he had the year before.

Of course the wild card is Jason Anderson, always capable of running up front on any given day and maybe the only person capable of ruffling either Lawrence feathers – Anderson won’t be backing down and admitted he is happy to play the villain.

Justin Cooper could be another, a great starter with great outdoors speed, it was Cooper who ran Jett so close in 250s a couple of years ago until that crash at Washougal handed Jett the momentum but Cooper has shown he can be there all year and he impressed indoors – I expect him to be one of the top guys outdoors.

Dylan Ferrandis has two outdoors titles and knows how to win and should be one of those guys capable of being around the podium, he also gets to see Jett during the week, but taking on Jett on a non-factory version of Jett’s factory Honda isn’t an advantage when every rider needs every advantage they can get against such a generational talent who is already an all-timer!

So, yes, it should be the Jett show, but there are enough top talents waiting in the wings to take advantage of any problems and maybe, just maybe, if Sexton has the settings on that KTM from round one this weekend, it could be title fight – if not we might have to wait for Eli Tomac to return to the series, or, like last year, the MXoN for Lawrence to get a real challenge outdoors!