Jett Lawrence wants to race 450 in new SMX playoffs: ‘Once I move up, I’m staying there’
Though he is back to attempt a third consecutive 250 Supercross championship, Jett Lawrence is hoping to be racing in the premier 450 class when the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship playoffs begin.
In an interview with NBC Sports announcer Leigh Diffey (watch the video above or by clicking here), Lawrence indicated that when he moves to the 450 category for the Pro Motocross Outdoors season this year, he intends to stay there for the three-race championship.
Based on combined points in the Supercross and Pro Motocross series, the top 22 riders in the 250 and 450 categories will advance to the SuperMotocross playoffs. The world champion in 450 will receive a larger payday ($1 million) than 250 ($500,000).
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The new championship playoff has triggered some intriguing speculation. Eli Tomac, the reigning premier class champion in both Supercross and Pro Motocross, told Diffey last month he has yet to commit to running the full SuperMotocross schedule after running the Supercross 450 season to defend his crown.
Asked this week whether he intends to run the 450 division of the SMX, Lawrence said, “I kind of briefly thought of it. To be honest, I’m more hoping that if I do my job right. I should get enough points with 450 in the Outdoors, and I most likely would ride 450 again setting myself up for the future with going 450 Supercross.
“Get those first three (playoff) races on and kind of get that feeling of being a little bit in a stadium with the 450 lads. I’m hoping more so 450 (for the playoffs). I think once I go to 450, it’s very rare I’m actually going to go back to 250. Once I move up, I’m kind of staying there.”
Lawrence, who also won the Pro Motocross 250 championship with nine victories last year, is competing in the Supercross 250 West this season after winning the 250 East title last year when a rib injury sidelined the Team Honda HRC rider from the West opener in Anaheim, California.
That provides some extra motivation for kicking off the campaign for a second consecutive Supercross 250 championship in Saturday’s season opener.
“There’s definitely some unfinished business at Anaheim so we’re hoping to go back because obviously last year, I was going to go West and ended up getting injured and couldn’t race it,” Lawrence told Diffey. “It’s kind of like we’ll sort some stuff out with Anaheim I and make sure we’re all good. So once we go 450, we can go there with no problems.
“Going back, I’m excited to be back under the lights at Anaheim. It’s going to be fun. Yeah, I just really can’t wait to get going with East and West Coast tracks again and how hard and slippery they are. It’s going to be exciting. Hopefully, it ends a lot better than last time.”
Lawrence, 19, told Diffey that he took some big steps in maturity last season, learning from his battle with 2021 champion Colt Nichols (now his teammate).
“My biggest thing last year was my mental side of things,” Lawrence said. “I learned from Colt Nichols, it’s like a chess game, being smart with stuff. One of the biggest things I took away was just staying out of drama. He did that perfectly in 2021. I stayed in the drama being a teenager just being an idiot. He stayed away from it, no one was enemies with him.
“I took that going into Supercross and outdoors and tried making sure I keep the drama away as much as I can. The biggest thing I’ve improved on is maturity on a bike, the way I ride and the way I act off the bike is completely opposite.”