Features 16 May 2024

Rewind: Lawrence’s road to the 450SX crown

The 2024 events that saw the Australian claim his first Supercross crown.

Premier class newcomer Jett Lawrence’s successful 2024 Monster Energy Supercross 450SX campaign saw him complete the collection of professional championships available in the US during his short career to date. In this Rewind, MotoOnline dives deeper into his rookie title victory and recalls his path to the number one plate this season.

The Australian-born Lawrence family moved from Europe to the US in 2019, with Jett entering the final rounds of Pro Motocross in the 250 class that year, before competing in the pandemic-affected Supercross and outdoor campaigns in 2020. He scored his first outdoor win at the final round at Fox Raceway that year, and since then, his career path has been exponential.

In 2021 he won his first 250MX Pro Motocross title, then continued to win every championship fight he entered, both indoors and outdoors. The exclamation mark was his perfect 22-race streak in his rookie 450MX championship last year, before claiming the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) in the finals series.

Image: Octopi Media.

After such an exceptional career, the Team Honda HRC rider entered the 2024 450SX championship as one of the favourites, despite lining up as a rookie against a field packed with seasoned champions. In the first qualifying session he was more than one second quicker than the rest of the field, but defending champion Chase Sexton (Red Bull KTM) closed that to 0.1s in the second session.

After a comfortable P3 in his heat, Lawrence got a near-perfect jump off the gate in the main event, led the field for the full 20 laps and finished an impressive seven seconds up the track from runner-up Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki). That performance earned Jett another spot in the record books, as the first-ever rookie to win on debut in the 450SX class.

However, the honeymoon didn’t last long, as at third round at San Diego’s, Jett took exception to Anderson’s tactics on track during the main event and, moments after crossing the finish-line, the pair had a heated verbal exchange that quickly escalated from there. Social media lit up.

A post by Anderson afterward polarised the fans, which led to Jett then getting booed when he rode into the stadium at A2 for the first of the Triple Crown rounds. The 20-year-old intended to use the response as fuel to put in a convincing performance, but he later admitted he tried too hard and mistakes throughout the night saw him finish sixth overall, with a 7-3-4 moto scorecard.

Image: Octopi Media.

The beef with Anderson continued throughout the season. The pair collided coming into the first turn at Birmingham’s opening qualifying session, then the Kawasaki rider came together with Jett’s elder brother, Hunter, early in the main event at Nashville and caused him to crash. At the Salt Lake City finale, Anderson then made another aggressive pass on Hunter – which again resulted in Hunter crashing – but Jett saw it happen.

A few laps later the younger Lawrence brother returned the favour in the same corner with some heavy contact of his own, but Anderson was able to stay on the bike. Afterwards, Anderson again took to social media stating that if the sport needs a villain, he’s up to ‘play that character’.

In the points chase, a string of wins and podiums helped Lawrence build a 21-point buffer by the time the 10th round at Indianapolis came to a close, and it looked like he already had one hand on the title with seven rounds remaining. But never count Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Cooper Webb out, since the two-time champion knows how to win and over the next three rounds, he capitalised on starts – and mid-pack starts from Lawrence – to chalk up two wins and a P2.

Meanwhile, Lawrence found himself caught in the thick of the action and having to work his way forward on tracks that were difficult to pass on. On top of that, TLD Red Bull GasGas rider Justin Barcia made violent contact with Lawrence on the opening lap of the main event at St Louis, and the Honda rider had to remount and limp home in eighth. A Lawrence P5 the following week at Foxborough saw the championship points evened up heading into the final rounds of the season.

Image: Octopi Media.

After Foxborough, the Team Honda HRC camp went to work and focused on Lawrence’s starts, because he simply couldn’t afford to try and scramble his way through the pack while Webb continued to start strongly and sail away from his rivals.

At the same time, Webb found himself dealing with a thumb injury that had been getting increasingly worse after initially tearing his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) at Birmingham. Over the closing rounds of the series, the injury became so painful he had to modify how he gripped the bars.

As Lawrence came back into form with another string of wins in the back end of the season, Webb found himself going into survival mode, finishing with gritty 3-4-5-3 results. With three wins at final four rounds, Lawrence cruised it home at the SLC finale, with his P7 result still enough to take his first 450SX championship with 15 points to spare.

They say there’s only one thing harder than winning a championship, and that’s defending it. Now that Lawrence has both the 450MX and 450SX trophies in his cabinet – as well as the lucrative SMX crown – his focus is now on becoming a multi-time champion across the board. At this rate, you’d be hard-pressed to bet against him.