One last faceoff for Hunter and Jett Lawrence in Supercross 250s at Salt Lake City
Hunter and Jett Lawrence will get one more opportunity to faceoff in the 250 class of the Monster Energy Supercross season Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah and this race could determine who has bragging right and the most wins in this division.
The rivalry could be the only thing on each of their minds. Hunter wrapped up the 250 East championship two weeks ago in Nashville and Jett sealed his deal last week in Denver, so neither rider has to worry about points. But for each, the final 250 East/West Showdown holds a different significance. Jett will make his move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross portion of the SuperMotocross World Championship. Hunter remains on a 250, for now at least.
The brothers currently have 12 wins each in this division, tied for fourth with nine other riders including Ricky Carmichael, Eli Tomac and Ryan Dungey. Winning on Saturday night would end this chapter with one brother having an edge. But for both, winning is secondary.
“We just want to give everyone a good show,” Hunter told NBC Sports last week in Denver. “Obviously I want to win, but at the same time, it’s a weird position because if he wins and I don’t, I’m not stressed out. Because it’s like we’re the same person. I want to get that ‘W” and close out with eight wins in the season.”
A Bond Forged by Fire
In professional sports, brothers competing against each other is not uncommon, but it is rare to see as deep a connection as Hunter’s and Jett’s.
Moving from Australia to Europe and then to America, Hunter and Jett share a lot of experiences. Not all of them were good and they had to watch as their dream took a financial toll on the family without a guarantee of success. It is easy to look back at those hard times in Europe, after their parent’s house had been sold to provide the necessary funds to keep going, and say it was worth it. But the weight on their shoulders created such a close bond.
“It’s attributable to how our father’s raised us,” Hunter said. “Our father has done an amazing job in raising two awesome adults - well, I wouldn’t say Jett’s a full adult yet. But [regarding the close bond] I think it starts with me leading the ship. The mental state of mind I adapt somewhat rolls over to Jett. If I was not wanting to have anything to do with Jett, it would rub off the same way for him.
“So how our dad’s raised us and how I’ve chosen what path to take. I don’t want to say it created the brotherhood - that is up to us. I think it’s cool because in 15 years, ideally, we want to look back, and he’ll be my best friend for the rest of my life, but look back and go, man, we dominated the sport.”
When one looks back on the past two seasons of supercross, that is precisely what they have done.
In 2022, Hunter was scheduled to race in the 250 East division, but a minor injury to Jett at the beginning of that season changed their plans. Hunter was more than happy to move into the West division, but in doing so he ran into the buzz saw that was Christian Craig. Still, if not for one bad race in Anaheim, Hunter would have swept the podium last year.
In 2023, Hunter has been perfect in regard to podium finishes, which means he’s been worse than third only once in the past two years.
Jett has swept the podium in the past two seasons and captured the 250 East championship last year.
This One’s for Bragging Rights
Since they have been running in separate divisions, the East/West Showdowns take on added significance.
Three rounds ago, Hunter and Jett were supposed to face off against one another for the first of two Showdowns. Rain turned that feature into a survival-of-the-fittest contest, but through a series of events at the end of the race, the brothers both stood on the podium with Jett in second and Hunter third.
“It sucked because it was pretty fun riding, but at the same time I had a blast in the mud,” Jett told NBC Sports last week as he prepared to practice in Denver. “It was exciting. I was gripping on hard, trying not to slip off the back because the bike was so slippery with the mud on it. There was a whole lot of drama you had to go through, so it made it a more exciting to get on the box.”
In that race, Jett had a sizeable lead on Hunter, who was running fourth until RJ Hampshire dive-bombed Jett and sent both to the ground. Jett recovered to finish second. Hunter advanced to third.
Prior to the race in Salt Lake City, Hunter joked that was only a small taste of what Jett could expect if Hunter needed the position Saturday night.
On the other hand, Jett just might not put up quite as strong a fight. He has his health to consider as the graduates to 450s, a class that has been decimated by injury in the past few rounds.
“The main focus is outdoors [and 450s] after [Salt Lake City] and we’ll just take it like it is,” Jett said. “I’m trying to take time and appreciate the small things throughout my career. Going into 450s, I’m just trying to soak in that stuff.”
One way or another, the Lawrence brothers are going to make it interesting Saturday night.