Jett Lawrence earns 2021 250 Motocross championship with dramatic Hangtown performance

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Jett Lawrence entered the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 2021 season finale at Hangtown with a points’ lead equaling almost one full moto and ended the weekend with a sparse six-point advantage to claim the 250 championship and become the first Australian rider to perform the feat.

After winning the season opener at Fox Raceway in May, Lawrence soon lost the red plate to Justin Cooper and was forced to play catchup as he watched Cooper’s consistency allow that rider to pull ahead. When Cooper injured his thumb in an accident at Washougal, Lawrence chose the perfect time to kick his Honda into high gear.

Beginning with an overall win and 2-1 finishes in his Round 8 motos at Unadilla, Lawrence became the hottest rider in the series with a second overall at Budds Creek and perfect 1-1 performances in the next two rounds. He would need almost all of the 100 points earned with his third and fourth wins of the season.

Cooper struggled with grip strength because of his broken thumb, while Lawrence amassed a 23-point lead entering the finale.

Winning the title should have been easy – or at least not as difficult as it ultimately became. All Lawrence needed was stay out of trouble in Moto 1. Better still, if he could gain another two points on Cooper, the championship would be a foregone conclusion.

Lawrence hit a wet patch on Lap 1 of Moto 1 and suffered a minor accident. He remounted and started his march through the field only to crash a second time as he tried to avoid a fallen rider in his path.

Lawrence moved up to eighth at the end of the moto.

Then he looked over to see Cooper standing tall on the podium with the race win. If those finishing results were replicated in Moto 2, Cooper would be the champion.

“I was ‘sleeping’ on the first-moto start and then was rushing stuff, but I got a bit of a blessing to come up to eighth,” Lawrence said in a press release. “Going into the second one, the mental frame was just to go out there and do my job.”

Lawrence 250 Motocross championship
Jett Lawrence receives congratulations from older brother, Hunter Lawrence after wrapping up the 2021 250 Motocross championship. Hunter finished third in the standings. (Honda Racing Corporation)

Despite dominating for more than a month. Lawrence’s mettle would be tested all the way to the checkers of Moto 2.

He got a bad start again in Race 2, fell early, and dropped to 13th in the running order.

But Lawrence has been forced to overcome bad starts throughout the season and by the halfway point, he passed the fourth-place rider – a position offering more than enough points to take the title. Lawrence would pass one more rider and finish fifth overall with an 8-3.

“I got up from the crash as quick as I could and tried to put on a charge and not override the track, because it was pretty rough,” Lawrence said. “I kind of got a flow and just relaxed and made my way through up to third, which was a lot better than the first moto.”

It was his second-worst overall finish of the season.

“Oh my goodness, it’s a good day in the end,” Lawrence said. “I think that’s the worst I’ve ridden in a while, but I still got the title. It feels so great, as we’ve been working quite a while to get this. … It’s awesome and we’re going to enjoy it for a little while, but then it will be back to the drawing board for next season to hopefully back it up.”

Cooper held onto second in the championship, while Jett’s brother, Hunter Lawrence, finished third.

Lawrence’s 250 championship came one week after a 450 rookie secured the upper division title. With one round remaining, Dylan Ferrandis entered Hangtown with a lead greater than 50 points to make 2021 a season that was dominated by Young Guns. He capped off his season with 1-3 moto finishes for his sixth overall win of the year.

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Jett Lawrence earns 2021 250 Motocross championship with dramatic Hangtown performance originally appeared on NBCSports.com