Features 5 Mar 2024

Conversation: Jett Lawrence

20-year-old Australian on Daytona supercross victory.

450SX points leader and rookie Jett Lawrence put on a clinic in the tricky Daytona conditions, passing Eli Tomac, who is a seven-time winner of the prestigious event and pulling away to take the victory by 05.889s. After claiming his third win of the season, the Team Honda HRC rider now holds a 10-point advantage in the series ahead of Cooper Webb. The 20-year-old Australian spoke to the media after the chequered flag for this Conversation feature.

Image: Octopi Media.

Jett, congratulations on the win here in Daytona. The track was technical here tonight. Winning in Daytona is a huge milestone for any rider, but talk about getting it done in your first attempt in the 450SX category.

Yeah it was awesome, especially to get it on my first attempt. I knew the track was a gnarly one, it wasn’t easy to ride in the first place, so I was super happy, and especially kind of how it happened, going down to the wire with the gates dropping and having my tire cover on and trying to get that off quickly. So I was tweaking before the race, but calmed down get back to super team. That was awesome even though how difficult the track was, so super pumped.

We’ve seen you have those few mistakes in the main events this season, I think there was another close one in the race tonight. Just talk us through managing that, pushing the pace but not crashing and throwing away wins.

The biggest thing was focusing. The last few weekends were just basic rhythms and stuff. It wasn’t a difficult section, I was just kind of going through the motions and I think that’s what happened. The easier stuff is obviously easier for me to do, so I was just trying to use the 450 power to catch my breath. But it was good to go back to work this week on just staying focused and hittimg my marks. Just having those times where if it isn’t right, just losing a tenth or so, not wanting to be so perfect always [and risking mistakes]. Usually, if I’m a bit off, I’ll still try and go for stuff, whereas this weekend, if I wasn’t perfect I’d back out. I’ve learned from those mistakes that have kind of cost me in the previous races.

You are now literally the only active rider to beat Eli [Tomac] in the last decade here in Daytona. What was going through your mind, other than wanting to pass him when you guys were in a battle?

I was more focused on trying to not crash in those rhythms, really. I was so focused on hitting my marks. I wasn’t really focused on passing, I was more focused on hitting my marks and then making those passes when the time came. I just knew I had to hit my marks and get as close as I could to try and force a mistake, or maybe make a move in a rhythm or the whoops. I didn’t have a set plan on where I was going to make any passes.

You did the sight lap, then changed the rear tyre. Can you talk us through that approach and the whole issue with getting the cover off at the very last second.

Looking back on it now, I kind of wish I didn’t go out for the sight lap. Then I wouldn’t have had to worry about changing the rear wheel, [laughs]. I felt like it was a very big gain to go and look at the track. You can get a really good idea of how it’s going to form up from the sight lap. I always like to get a good look at it, I hate going out blind.

Image: Octopi Media.

Could you feel your mechanic pulling the tyre cover off and did it mess you up at all?

No, it didn’t mess me up too much. I already had in my head about coming through the field if it didn’t come off. But the team luckily enough got it off just in time before the gate drop. I wasn’t even fully sat on the bike properly before the gate drop, cause my butt slid back on the street. nLuckily our bike is super fast, when it hit the dirt it just ripped. I think that definitely helped. But I think the team handled it really well for how stressful it was.

You’ve worked with your mechanic now for a handul of years. Talk about how that relationship is and just trusting each other in those situations.

I think it makes us stronger. I always knew we were going to get it done in time. He’s such a good mechanic, so I don’t think that will ever really affect our relationship at all, I think it’s just going to make it stronger. As the years have gone on we’ve just gotten closer and closer, he’s like family now, so yeah.

Unfortunately your brother Hunter pulled off halfway through the main event. I’m just curious, do you notice things like that, and is it distracting at all?

I definitely noticed, I saw him on the start straight pulling off the track. History always seems to repeat itself. Whenever he does bad, I’ve gone and won. So I think most of the time that it almost helps. It drives me that it’s my time. It’s like it’s my time to hold it together for the family, cause Hunter has done so much for me. So it motivates me to even more to try and win for him and my family.

Do you know if he’s okay?

I haven’t asked yet, but I got a thumbs up from Lars [Lindstrom], so thank god.