Features 1 Jun 2023

Conversation: Jett Lawrence

450MX class rookie on winning debut at Fox Raceway.

Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence captured his first 450MX win on debut at the opening round of the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship with a commanding 1-1 performance at Fox Raceway. The 19-year-old spoke to the media following his debut victory for this Conversation feature.

Image: Octopi Media.

Jett, what is up with Pala with you? Nine moto wins out of 12 races, but six overalls out of six here. Pretty impressive, you can’t do any better than that. Also, are you aware that this is the first time in history that two siblings won on the same day in AMA Pro Motocross?

No, I wasn’t. It’s crazy because the Pala tracks before, I never really liked at all, but at least today I liked the layout a lot better. I felt like it wasn’t so as high speed as normal, we actually got to slow down, a little more technical stuff where it really challenged your balancing. But the dirt was still horrible dirt. But we’ll take it, it’s definitely one cool thing, [Hunter] and I winning on the same day. It’s crazy to think. It actually went through my head when we signed the back board of the podium. It was actually pretty eye-opening. Pretty sick, I know it’s not going to be like that every weekend. Like Chase [Sexton] said, he’s getting more and more time on the bike, obviously getting more comfortable. I’ve been lucky to get a little bit more time than he has on the 450 with outdoors because obviously we went over to the east coast and I was able to ride. But we’re still finding our feet on the 450. We’re going to have a mistake every now and then, I can say that now. But we’re looking forward to an awesome summer. I get to race with some sick guys and sick lads. It’s going to be a fun summer.

You guys were marking each other throughout the race. I noticed you lowered your lap times, better lap times. [Chase Sexton] was real close at one point and he made a bobble in that final right-hand corner. Then, ironically, I saw you make a mistake later on in the moto there. So, the track was very, very difficult, no question about it. I saw you look around a couple of times, so he was close.

I couldn’t hear the guy [laughs]. It’s so hard to hear our bikes, it’s so damn quiet. So a few times I had to look back. I’m like, I can’t hear a bike. I look back and I see all the red. I’m like, gosh damn it, so it was hard. In 250 normally you’re always on the rev limiter, it’s a lot easier to hear. With our bikes, we’re so quiet. I feel like we’re always a higher gear than other people, especially on this track with how edgy it is. Every time I’d just check back, I’d see 23 and I’m like, he’s still there. You wouldn’t hear him for a bit, maybe I’ve got a gap, I’d look back and it’s almost just as close. So, it was fun.

How often have you had a moto like that where you had someone right on you? In the 250 class, you’ve had a good run. So did you learn something about being under pressure like that?

I think the closest thing that I had to that really was when I was racing my brother last year in outdoors, I think at Millville and High Point in one moto, where I think this year it’s going to be, Like, the first moto I got pretty lucky, I ended up getting a good start and kind of getting a bit of a safety kind of gap and just managing. As Chase said, he didn’t feel as good and had to make a shock change, so obviously didn’t feel up to par, like how he felt on that one. Then the second one, he got a better start. For me, I find it fun because it makes me a better rider all around, I don’t get that very often. I’m definitely going to be having that all season, I can tell you now, there’s going to be some races where just because it’s the first year on a 450, I’m just not going to have it some rounds. I think the best thing for me is to just be smart and just learn. I get to race with some of the fastest guys. It’s kind of crazy because last time I raced these guys was when I first went pro back in 2020, so it’s kind of like I’ve raced them, but then back then I was nowhere near them, so I barely even got to learn how they ride. Now I’m up there and I’m just really excited, it’s going to be an awesome summer with some gnarly dudes.

Image: Octopi Media.

Was there some sense of security that the guy that was pressuring in moto two was your teammate? Did you learn more racing with him than you did in the first one when you were just running away from it?

The biggest thing with the second one was when I saw it was Chase, I’m like, he’s going to be there all moto. I know that for sure. In 250 I could always either out-speed someone or out-fitness someone. Now we’re on the big bikes, everyone’s fit, everyone’s strong. So I was like, well, this one is going to be a long, 35-minute moto. But, we both respect each other, I know for sure we’re not going to do anything silly to put each other on the ground. I know when we got back we’d get a whooping from Honda. But we respect each other, I think we get more of a buzz out of having a good, clean race than going down at the end.

You’ve obviously had a lot of exceptional results during your career, but to win with a 1-1 result first time out in 450 MX, where does that rate for you overall?

It’s a really cool feeling, especially doing it with the guys who are in the class. It’s pretty wild because if you look at it, I’ve been teammates with both these guys. Back in 2016 when I first went to Europe I was teammates with Dylan. He was on 250 and I was on an 85 trying to get around Lommel. Then obviously when I first went to Geico, I was teammates with Chase and still now. So, it’s pretty cool, it definitely goes up there as one of the pretty cool ones. I haven’t felt that excited over a win in a while, because the 250 ones kind of just got expected. So when you expect it, it doesn’t have that much excitement, where this one I didn’t really expect. I’m like, we’re going to go out there and see how it is, and to go 1-1 like that, especially with Chase behind me in that second one pushing me, which was great learning for me also which makes it just even better.