Confidence built on a strong 2021 season has Jett Lawrence eying 250 Supercross championship
Racing Supercross (SX) requires balance in every aspect and entering his third season in the 250 series, Team Honda HRC rider Jett Lawrence has learned to temper his natural confidence with humility.
The first personality trait was not difficult to obtain. Confidence was bred into him at an early age and reinforced by a third-place finish in the SX East division last year and the 2021 Motocross championship. Lawrence believes humility comes just as naturally - although it can be difficult to express at times in a sport where the winning rider has to believe he is the best in the field.
“Expectations were pretty high coming (into 2021),” Lawrence told NBC Sports. “I didn’t really like how it was picked up on at all. I had my expectations. I am who I am, and I want to always be better, so I didn’t really worry about it too much.
“I didn’t feel like it fazed me too much, to be honest. People like to try to pressure you, but I feel like it’s more of a ‘you’ thing. You can say you got pressured, and if you believe it, it’s pressure. If you don’t, then don’t overthink it.”
After literally mortgaging the family future, the Lawrence brothers burst onto the scene in 2020 with Jett and Hunter Lawrence touted as two of the most promising riders to join the series in several seasons. For Jett, the speed was there, but 2020 was not the debut many anticipated.
Lawrence earned one podium in six 250 SX West starts and finished 10th in the standings. A broken collarbone after getting pitched from his bike in the whoops in Round 3 of 2020 kept him from entering all of the races that year.
His second season was much stronger. Making every race and earning nearly twice as many points, Lawrence finished third in the standings behind champion Colt Nichols and Jo Shimoda, who became the first Japanese-born racer to win a race in the series last year.
More importantly, Lawrence learned to win and stand on the podium with greater frequency. He won the second race of the season and earned podiums in two of three races in the season opener at Houston. He closed the season with a pair of wins and a second-place finish at Salt Lake City.
If not for a disastrous race in Indianapolis when he finished outside of the points in 23rd, he might have won the title.
"(Aggressiveness) is probably one of my biggest problems,” Lawrence said. “We all want to be better than each other so it’s a very hard thing. It’s probably my strength and weakness at the same time. That’s what kind of cost me (in 2021) in supercross.
“Trying to go faster than anyone else on the track and it ends up catching me. The more mature side needs realize I’m fine. I definitely, at times, get a little carried away because I want to be the best at what I do. Sometimes it definitely bites me, but sometimes it pays off.”
Three consecutive top-two finishes at the end of the season propelled him into the Motocross with a ton of momentum. Lawrence won the season opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif. and finished on the podium in three consecutive races. He also won three of the final five motocross races to put him in a position to ride smartly at Hangtown at Rancho Cordova, Calif. in the finale.
Lawrence won the outdoor championship by six points over Justin Cooper.
It wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Lawrence and Cooper swapped the points’ lead during the season and a run of three modest showings of fourth or sixth forced Lawrence to dig deep and close strong.
But that is also what contributed to Lawrence’s confidence.
“I’m confident because I know I put the work in,” Lawrence said. “I don’t need someone to tell me I’m good. I know I’m decent at what I do because I put the work in - so I’m confident as a person.
“Sometimes I try to hide that, because sometimes it seems cocky. It’s a bit of a struggle with that. But I feel like confidence is definitely a good thing to have in your back pocket. It’s kind of funny when people think I’m like this cocky kid, but people who know me are like, ‘he just comes off like that.’ ”
“It’s okay (to be confident) but it’s more like being mentally strong. I feel like my dad is very mentally strong and I take a bit from him - and just being mentally strong and knowing that I’m supposed to be here, and I deserve everything that I get. Not to sound like a spoiled brat, but everything I’ve achieved, I deserve.”
With a 450 ride imminent, Lawrence has one last goal to achieve as the 2022 season gets ready to kick off.
When asked what he would like to have written about him at the end of the season, Lawrence replied, "(I’d like to be known at the end of the season as) the world’s greatest all around 250 rider. It would be awesome to have that.
“But I also hate saying that because I’m just not that person trying to toot my own horn. So it’s weird, but a perfect season would be getting both championships.
“Race wins are obviously awesome, but the biggest goal is championships and if I can get both, the goals are completed in 250.”