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Jett Lawrence is Jett Lawrence’s biggest competition

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Anyone who follows the sport of SuperMotocross has been waiting to see how the rivalry between Jett Lawrence and Eli Tomac would develop. That question is beginning to get answered.

Jett Lawrence has now spent one full season in Pro Motocross and one in the SuperMotocross World Championship in the premiere 450 division. Lawrence easily won both titles, for the first time scoring a perfect rookie season in the outdoor season. There have been very few signs of weakness from Lawrence in his meteoric rise through the ranks.

MORE: Jett Lawrence is first to beat Eli Tomac at Daytona in six years

But Lawrence did not have to face Eli Tomac, who ruptured his Achilles tendon with one round remaining in last year’s Supercross season. Without that injury, he would have easily won the 2024 Supercross championship, which would have been his third championship in the last three season.

Lawrence has faced challenges in Supercross this season — including last week when he fell twice and finished off the podium. Tomac has also struggled and those have conspired to keep the keep the two riders apart for most of 2024.

Daytona would finally showcase these two riders at their best.

To say Daytona has belonged to Tomac is not even remotely hyperbolic. He entered the weekend with a five-race winning streak and has not finished worse than second in nearly a decade.

Lawrence was aware of those numbers but still didn’t think Tomac was the rider to beat.

The only rider Lawrence needed to beat was Jett Lawrence.

SX Daytona 2024 Jett Lawrence Back.jpg

Jett Lawrence’s back has been a familiar sight for the 450 competition. / Feld Motor Sports

“The biggest thing was focusing,” Lawrence said after becoming the first rider in six years to beat Tomac in a Supercross race at Daytona. “The previous weekend my mistakes were in the basic rhythm stuff where it wasn’t very difficult kind of section. I would just go through the motion. That’s what cost me the most on the easiest stuff. It’s so easy for me to do, especially with the 450 power in the rhythms, you use it to go and catch your breath and it cost me.

“It was good this week to work on staying focused, hit your marks — and having those times when if it ain’t right, being okay to lose a tenth or so. Normally, being young, I just want to be perfect always and not lose any time, and gain time and not give up any time to guys behind me or in front of me. If I’m a bit off, I will still try going for stuff. This week (I decided) if I’m not perfect, just back out of it and learn from those mistakes.”

MORE: Jett Lawrence says Eli Tomac is not the same beast

That is easy to say after a race but it was also what was going through Lawrence’s mind while he raced behind Tomac. In Round 8 at Daytona, Chase Sexton took the lead early with Tomac in tow. As those teammates tried to settle their differences at the front, Lawrence closed in rapidly, got a fast run through the whoops and passed both in the same corner on Lap 4.

“I was more focused on not trying to die in those rhythms, really,” Lawrence said. “I was so focused on hitting my marks. (I wasn’t) really focused on ‘I need to pass the person in front of me’, it was more so I need to make sure I hit my marks and if I got close enough to the person, it was I can maybe get him in this rhythm and I just have to follow him through this section. So I wasn’t focused on I got to get past Eli or and got to get by Chase.

“I didn’t really have any set plan on okay I’m going to pass him here. I was kind of let’s get as close as we can and see if we can find a way around them and if not, that sucks, but we’ll see how it goes.”

One lap after making this pass for the lead, Lawrence built a 3.6-second gap. By Lap 10, his advantage grew to nearly 12 seconds on a 98-second lap.

After the race, Tomac said he was not aggressive enough.

“Thinking back to the race, [I’m] frustrated I didn’t do the quad,” Tomac said from the second seat on the podium. "[That] cost me. So got to take more risks next time. That’s that. So, yeah, second place.”

Tomac finally got around Sexton with two laps remaining.

His determination to catch Lawrence showed in the lap times that came after he moved into the runner-up spot. Tomac took nearly a second off the advantage on the next-to-last lap. On the white flag lap, he shaved another three seconds off.

There is still an open question as to how the rivalry between SuperMotocross’ winningest active rider and the Australian upstart resolves, but on a soggy Saturday night in Daytona, Lawrence made a statement.

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