Jett Lawrence interview – the new US champ speaks!
He did it! At just 18 years old, Jett Lawrence survived some crashes at the final round of the year to come out on top in the 250 US National championship after a worldwide trip to get there.
Natives of Landsborough, in Queensland, Australia, Jett and Hunter earned amateur success Down Under as youngsters. After dabbling in international racing (Jett earned the 2014 65cc World Championship in Belgium, at age 11), the Lawrence family moved to Europe fulltime to pursue the brothers’ motocross dreams, with Jett getting his feet wet in the 2016 German ADAC series and 85 European Motocross Championship. Two years later, he made the jump to the highly competitive 250 European Motocross Championship at age 14.
In 2019 the Lawrence family relocated to the U.S., where the brothers raced for the Honda-backed Factory Connection squad (Hunter as a pro and Jett initially as an amateur before turning 16 and making his pro debut midway through the AMA Pro Motocross series). Last season saw him net his first overall victory at the final round and take the Marty Smith Rookie of the Year Award, before he and Hunter advanced to the factory Team Honda HRC program for 2021. In his short time as a pro, Jett has already amassed a huge following of dedicated fans.
While this is Jett’s first AMA crown, he joins an elite list of Honda riders who have notched a total of 13 AMA Motocross National Championships in the 250MX division (previously for 125cc two-strokes); others include Marty Smith, Johnny O’Mara (now the Lawrence brothers’ trainer), Ron Lechien, Micky Dymond, George Holland, Mike Kiedrowski, Doug Henry, Steve Lamson, Trey Canard (now the Team Honda HRC test rider) and Eli Tomac. That said, the title is Honda’s first in the class since 2013.
Jett discussed his huge title win for himself and his family with the media in the post-race press conference.
What didn’t happen today?
I tell you what didn’t happen, I didn’t ride good at all, I sucked. Practices, they were good. First moto start, I was sleeping, riding was riding way too fast for the track, and I was rushing stuff. I was just being stupid really. Thankfully got a bit of a blessing, coming up to 8th and obviously finishing third in the second one. Thankfully I racked it up and got the win.
Can you take us through the feeling and the emotion when you crossed the line?
The feeling when I went across the finish line was, my body was dying. It was cool, but I don’t think it has really sunk in yet. I think tomorrow, once I wake up, I will have processed everything. Still trying to process everything right now. Once it sinks in it will be good, but still dreaming right now. It was cool to wrap it up and get a break.
I wanted to ask about that second moto when you went down with Vohland. When you picked it up, it seemed like you didn’t panic and settled into a pace you were comfortable with. What was your mind set then?
My mindset was when I crashed was, I am really sucking today on dirt bikes. I knew, and I just had to get up as quickly as I could and put on a charge. I made sure I didn’t override the track, because the track was pretty rough. I had to make sure I didn’t over do the track and make any other stupid mistakes. I had to flow, and I made my way up to third. It was a lot better than the first moto.
Moto two on the start you decided to start next to Justin Cooper. Did you do that on purpose for a reason?
Kind of like it was a decent gate, and everyone knows he is a great starter, so if I get another bad jump, I just go in behind him. Starts were off, didn’t really work. You have to think if something happens, have a go to plan.
What was the mood like at the truck between motos and what did you talk about?
After the first moto I was pissed and not happy at all. Going into the second one the mood was go and do my job. I did a lot of work and I felt I deserved what I had done so far. I went out and was right, go out there and do your job.
Is there any lessons you learnt from this season?
Just that the mistakes, the main thing I learnt. Take away those silly mistakes that are not called for and obviously always room to improve and we will study what I sucked at and crack the whip and get me ready for my top shape for next year.
Looking back on the season, what are the standout moments?
I haven’t processed the season yet. I will watch some races and see what I wasn’t good at and what everyone else was good at. I will process that with my trainer Johnny and the rest of the team.
Big money in the championship, what will you spend it on?
I think I have a good group around me, and I might buy a house, or the price in the stock market is really high. We might invest in a car wash or invest in something else that will give money back to me. For now, invest with all the bonuses.
Those Australian roots, I went into your archives from your Instagram from six or seven years ago. I saw pictures of you when you first left Australia. When you left to go to Europe, did you think you would be a champion at the highest level?
I mean, that time we moved, I was like, I didn’t come here for nothing, and I wanted to win a championship and put it in the work and since then I have really been working my ass off to get where I am today. Thankfully it all paid off. It has been a long trail to this, yes.
What about the sacrifices, you must have a lot of mates you don’t see anymore?
Yes, that was tough for a young kid, I had my best mate, and we did everything together and we were like brothers. We did everything together. We can facetime each other now and they visit sometimes, and we planned on going back to Australia for the Aus X-Open and seeing everyone, but that doesn’t look possible now with the pandemic. We wanted to succeed and if that is what it takes, take it away.
You are the first Australian to win the 250-class title and the youngest since Ryan Villopoto in 2006 as well. How surreal is it to tick these boxes so early in your career?
It is cool to have my name with RV, because he is a legend and a sick lad, but it hasn’t sunk in. Once it does, I will be like a little schoolgirl. It is cool to be the first Australian to win a 250 championship over here, that is just awesome and hopefully I can continue this for the rest of my career.
We spent a lot of time around the series here in Australia and see kids who are following what you have done. If there were three things you could tell these kids, what would you tell them?
One would be work hard, that is number one, the main thing. Put in the training. Two would be don’t click quicker than the clock ticks. I learnt that from Stefan Everts, because he would always tell Hunter that, because Hunter always wanted to go fast. It was a really smart thing, because you don’t want to rush your time. Take it step by step and learn and three is listen and learn, because if you don’t listen, you won’t learn.
Images: Align media
Podcast! Jonathan McCready and Andy McKinstry look back at the 2021 AMA motocross season, as Dylan Ferrandis and Jett Lawrence take the US titles plus some British Championship talk and looking ahead to the next round of MXGP at Riola.
Listen to it on iTunes here or Spotify or YouTube below: