Features 29 Aug 2023

Conversation: Hunter Lawrence

Team Honda HRC rider on first 250MX championship.

History was made on Saturday as Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence wrapped up the 250MX title in the final round of the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship at Ironman Raceway, backing up his younger brother Jett’s 450MX title as they became the first siblings to win both categories in the same season. The 24-year-old Australian spoke to the media after wrapping up the championship for this Conversation feature.

Image: Octopi Media.

Hunter, congratulations on a remarkable season. You had some ups and downs. You had that RedBud first turn crash, some injuries early on, then you had a mechanical and lost the championship lead. Tell us about the first moto today. You knew it was in your hand if you won the first moto, then in the second corner, you see [Justin Cooper] go down in that pile-up. What did your game plan become after seeing your nearest competitor on the ground early?

When I went around the first turn I was like, ‘Well, this is going to be a tough one.’ Then, we came to a stop with that pile-up and I saw that unfortunately, Justin [Cooper] was on the ground. So, it got a little easier, cause that was the only guy we really had to focus on beating to wrap it up in the first moto. So, it was honestly just riding to that, making passes that came, not really pushing above my head. I kind of knew where he was all moto and my mechanic was doing a good job of letting me know, so I kind of did that and brought it home.

Being a racer and being highly competitive, how hard was it to hold yourself back and tell yourself that you didn’t need to push as long as Justin was behind you?

Not hard. I mean it’s harder to keep pushing harder and make up that time. So, it was a lot easier on my side, because why risk it to win the battle, when you can win the war? That’s what we were here doing today, we were here to win the war.

Is there any way for a championship to be more special, given that you guys are both getting it?

Maybe if we both get the SMX title as well, that might be the only thing that makes it more special. But, no absolutely, it’s wild, both supercross titles, I think that’s been done before, but never in the same year. Now both outdoor Pro Motocross Championships… Epic.

Is the family bond pushing each other to this level of excellence? Is that the foundation for you guys?

Absolutely, whether it’s in this sport or in life in general. You’re always going to have someone that pushes you to become better. I think what’s unique about this side is that we both push each other to be better, and whenever either of us wins, it’s benefitting the same family, rather than another family or someone else. I think that’s what makes it special. We’re brothers and family first, racing always comes second.

What are you most looking forward to in the SMX playoffs?

I think more about the unknown. No one really knows what to expect. It’s the first round, so I’m sure everyone will be there with their notepads out, and then back to the drawing board after the first one. Hopefully, we can get it right with the team and we land on our feet running.

Image: Octopi Media.

In America, it’s a pretty defined path that the kids have. Your background is different. Do you think it’s actually worked out better for you?

Yeah, absolutely. I think what was really instilled in us and why I think we are where we are, is because we started off with nothing to fall back on. So, it was do or die, you know? When we were in the tough times, it wasn’t like, you get denied a few times or pushed down, you go back to normal life, there was no normal life for us. It was just always make or break and I think that can-do attitude definitely helped. We had an unreal role model in our Dad, just him being an everyday battler and a fighter, just showing us the right things and the right attributes without even realising it. You just kind of adopt them and I think it’s paid off a tonne, to where we’re so fortunate and grateful for everything we have right now and the people we get to work with. We race dirt bikes for a job, it’s pretty damn badass.

I know you’re one guy who dedicates yourself to the craft. Can you give us one example of putting in the extra time to do whoops or a corner? I know a lot of it is going to come from Johnny O’Mara and your Dad, but are there times when you critique yourself and you know you can’t leave the track until you get something right?

It was Wednesday this week. We’re always working to be better, any driven person in life aims to be one percent better every day, whether it’s dieting, or whatever it may be. Every day we try to be better, in our sport, life itself, just anything. Anyone that you meet who’s older and experienced says, ‘I’m still learning to this day.’

Talk about your situation at Honda and what you’re feeling over there. Is it just a family affair over there right now?

Absolutely, we’re going to go burn the truck down later, it’s just unreal. The boys are going to get the cigars out, it’s going to be the HRC drinking team here shortly, [laughs].