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Aussie motocross star Lawrence aiming for repeat success

Motocross racing is a symbiotic relationship between rider and dirt bike.

The motorcycle provides the speed and power. The rider takes the lead, navigating the humps and ruts on a dirt dance floor.

Even at a young age, Australian Jett Lawrence is showing some sweet moves on his bike with a historic start to his career.

“He grew up dancing and he’s so fluid it’s almost like he’s dancing across the race track,” said Davey Coombs, president of MX Sports Pro Racing. “Even when he gets out of control, which is rare, he never seems to find himself in an uncomfortable position.”

The outdoor motocross season kicks off this weekend at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Lawrence is the overwhelming favorite to win the season championship.

Jett Lawrence is tipped to successfully defend his 2023 Pro Motocross Championship title. (AP PHOTO)

Since making his AMA Motocross debut in 2021, the 20-year-old has claimed every title in front of him. Lawrence won consecutive 250cc motocross and supercross championships before bumping up to 450s.

The bigger bikes did little to slow him down.

Lawrence made his 450cc debut by joining Ricky Carmichael (2002 and 2004), and James Stewart (2008) as the only riders to win every race of a motocross season, finishing 22 for 22. He backed that up by winning the 2023 SuperMotocross championship in Las Vegas.

The winter switch to supercross was a bit of an adjustment for Lawrence and he still ended up with the crown, winning eight races to become the first rookie in motocross history to sweep both 450cc titles. The Jett Sweep, as Coombs calls it, puts Lawrence ahead of the pace set by all-time greats like Carmichael, Stewart, Jeremy McGrath, Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto.

“I believe in setting goals,” Lawrence said this week at Fox Raceway. “One day, I’d like to be the all-time leader in wins and championships.”

Lawrence had an advantage coming up in the motocross world, learning from his older brother, Hunter, who’s making his 450cc debut this weekend.

Jett took the lessons learned and hit the throttle, racing away from the pack with a combination of speed, skill and smarts. Once the Honda rider gets to the front, he often stays there, doing just enough to win instead of trying to blow away the field – and potentially crash – like some of his predecessors.

“He knows whether you win by 10 seconds or a minute, it’s still just 25 points and he rides that way,” Coombs said. “He doesn’t expel or use up any of that talent, any of that good luck. You talk about a cat with nine lives? He’s still got all nine.”

And what appears to be a path to more titles.

Lawrence’s top two rivals, Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb, are both out for the start of the motocross season with thumb injuries. Chase Sexton made a run at Lawrence during the supercross season before he, too, went out with a thumb injury, but is back for the start of the outdoor season.

Veteran Kawasaki rider Jason Anderson has the 2018 supercross title on his resume and 28-year-old Yamaha rider Aaron Plessinger typically runs strong races during the outdoor season. Lawrence will also have to contend with his brother, last year’s 250cc East supercross champion.

They all face an uphill climb trying to knock the former hip-hop dancer off the top of the podium.

“I think Jett Lawrence might be the perfect motocross racer,” Coombs said. “He’s got the charisma of McGrath, he’s got the determination of Carmichael, he’s got the showmanship of (Travis) Pastrana without all the mistakes.

“He checks every box of what you’d want as a motocross champion on and off the track.”

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