Team introductions have been firing off all week as riders and teams begin the final stretch before Monster Energy AMA Supercross starts again in January. Three such riders are Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence, and Max Vohland who were all part of the Honda HRC and Red Bull KTM team intros last week, respectively. All three of these 250SX factory riders are coming into 2022 with a new bike as Honda has now introduced their new 250F that has the exact same frame as last year’s new 450F model, whereas Vohland’s KTM is brand new from the ground up. With these big changes underneath of them, we sat down with each rider last week to see what they envision lies ahead of them.
Jett Lawrence | Honda HRC
Racer X: First off, talk a little bit about the new bike. It’s a new platform for you and your brother to learn. What have you felt so far that’s different about it that you like? Do you feel it’s a platform that you’re going to find success with right away?
Jett Lawrence: I would love to find success with it straightaway. It would be awesome. This bike is really good. I’m really happy with this bike. The window of getting it handling really nice is a lot bigger than the other bike, which is amazing. The power on the thing is awesome. Unbelievable. It has so much more bottom, and even going up to the top also. It’s really good. It’s an all-around really good bike. I’m really excited for this upcoming year.
What did you do after you won the championship? Was there a big celebration, a week that you went away? What was the whole vibe after the championship?
That night I think we went to top golf and played some golf. Everyone goes to an after party, but I’m 18. I can’t go into any bars. They’re boring anyway. Everyone is drunk and talking. At least top golf you can whack some balls, talk some crap about their golf swing. So, we did that. We went for a little trip to Austin, Texas for a bit of a business thing and also just for fun because it was my first MotoGP that I went to. So, that was fun. We just golfed, just hung out with friends, really. Finally got to relax a bit.
Have you actually had some time to decompress? You’re involved in so many different things. You’re doing the new Jett series, the Moto Academy with AJ [Catanzaro] and everything like that, and now trying to prep for this new season. Do you feel like you’ve had a little bit of an exhale this off-season?
I had a little bit, but to be honest, those first few days I was kind of like struggling not to do. I always had a program. I would wake up and go do this, this, and this, where I was waking up going, “So, what do I do today?” I didn’t know what to do, which was weird. I was really excited to get back into it. I had a program. I was waking up knowing what I had to do. It was good. I had some downtime, which was good. I needed it. I didn’t stop training for like two years before. I haven’t had a break. So, it was really, really nice.
We’re going into kind of a normal supercross season again this year where you’re going to have the Anaheim and the California swing and everything like that. Are you excited to get back into those stadiums? You had some success in them before. Obviously, you got injured in 2020, but are you excited to get back into it there?
Yeah. Hell yes. I am just excited for things to slowly get back to normal. I just really want it to get back to how it was when I first came, which was really fun.
You're kind of labeled a little bit as this surge of the next generation, to a degree, because you have a presence on TikTok and all the new things that are coming through. Is it kind of rewarding in a sense that you’re like “the guy” for that, in a way, where everyone is looking at you and what trends you’re doing and things like that? Or is there pressure involved with it, too?
I don’t really think any social media stuff you have pressure with it, because it’s social media. If they’re in your face trying to do something, yeah. But social media is just fun. That’s what it’s mainly for. You get to see what other people are up to, what I’m doing and that stuff. It’s good to have fun with it. It’s cool that people look at what I do, but sometimes it doesn’t really faze me if they see what I do or not. I post it to kind of let friends see that stuff. I just have fun with it. It’s something different. I’m still a teenager. I’m still a normal kid that wants to live a bit of a normal teenager life. So, I still want to have fun like that. I’m just having fun with the TikTok and all the other social media stuff.
This whole program, the Honda HRC team, it was new for you guys last year but now you’ve had a year to kind of develop with it. What have you learned about the team within that year that you feel like you guys have got kind of sorted going into year two?
I think just the team is more as one now. It’s like a family here, really. Everyone is getting closer and closer each day, really. Everyone is just knowing what everyone is thinking now, which is really good. There’s no questioning someone. We all trust each other really good with decisions and that. Our bonds are getting stronger, especially with my mechanic and I and the 250 side team.
Hunter Lawrence | Honda HRC
Racer X: Welcome to the Red Bull family, first of all. I’m sure that was a little bit of a shock. How does it feel to be in this whole environment now? HRC, Red Bull athlete… It’s got to be pretty surreal.
Hunter Lawrence: It’s awesome. It’s what we sacrificed everything for, what we sacrificed our life for and what we work our ass off for every day. So, it’s good. It’s awesome to earn it. It’s a really cool deal.
Speaking of earning it, last year was really good for you. The supercross wins, the outdoors wins… I think you want to win titles of course, but you have to kind of take one step at a time, to a degree, and you finally put a full supercross season under your belt and you had strong results. So, reflecting on that, I’m sure it’s a good springboard coming into this year.
For sure. In all reality, the results were great and stuff, but I turned my career around in away from being injured and stuff and not having a complete season to both complete seasons for supercross and outdoors. It was a good year, to say the least.
Looking back on supercross, was there always a little bit of, I know I have the speed, but I just keep crashing and getting hurt? And once you finally won a race it kind of proved that? Or were you even yourself a little shocked with the speed that you had and to go up on top like that?
I wasn’t shocked. I knew I could do it, I just had to get healthy. That was priority number one. I didn’t crash a lot in supercross. It wasn’t like I couldn’t ride it, or I couldn’t get through whoops, or I was sketchy by any means. It was like, I’d have one crash in two or three months and that would be the one I’d get injured. So, it wasn’t like a matter of if I could ride. I knew I could ride it, and I knew I’d be able to race and win. I just had to get myself healthy to when I did crash, if I was to crash, I didn’t snap or break or do anything. So, that was priority one. This was one of my healthier seasons, as far as my body goes, and it showed. The rounds I was on, I was on. We’re looking to better that even more this year.
Are you going East Coast again, or is there a plan for that yet?
Yeah, I’ll be East Coast, just because I had to take a little bit extra time off this year and let my body heal in that process of rebuilding my body to being healthy again. It was priority to give my body the time to rebuild itself after a huge season, and just kind of give the cardio system a little bit of a break, a little bit of a rest to reboot itself. So, I’ll be east coast.
Thinking back to when you signed your Honda contract to come over from Europe and come here, in your wildest dreams could you have thought it would end up with you and your brother on the same team like this, under the HRC awning, Red Bull athletes?
Yeah. You always want to believe it and you always believe you can get there, but you can never see how you’re going to get there. You can only look back and go, these are the things that got us here. You can never say looking forward what’s going to happen. You can only dream it, think it, visualize it. When we started riding bikes, we never thought we’d ever be here, living the life we live and racing the schedules and at the level we do. So, it’s cool.
Obviously, the new series with your brother just dropped and it shows a lot of your family aspect and how you guys kind of interact with each other. Your mom tries to settle you down, and your dad is kind of on the wild side. How fun is it to be out here with the family too and experience your dreams with them?
It’s cool. I think the best part of all the flight plan series was our brother, Tate. Not many people know our brother, Tate, so it was cool. Normally he locks up on camera. Normally he’s the life of the party, but as soon as you pull a camera out, he kind of locks up a little bit. So, it was cool that they got some good stuff of him to kind of show everyone how Tate really is, because that’s literally how Tate is all the time. So, we’re blessed with him that he’s not really recluse and shy and stuff. People that understand special needs kids know that there’s a lot of them that have to have routine, and to take them out of a comfortable environment where they grew up in Australia, move to Europe, kind of gypsy around Europe and then move to another country after he’s kind of got a routine there to here, it’s a big deal for special needs kids. So, we’re blessed that he doesn’t care and he’s so relaxed. So, that’s been cool. I think it’s good because everyone sees as us as the racers, but not a lot of people get to see us away from the track and who we are. I think I can speak for everyone that if you have no idea about a sport, but you know one person in that sport and you have an attachment to that, it makes the whole sport so much more interesting. So, I think Red Bull Media and our agency is doing an amazing job of trying to showcase that.
Talking about switching to this new bike for this year, new frame and everything like that, how has the development been so far with you and getting to understand how the bike works? Are you feeling confident already that it’s going to work well for you?
Yeah. Step one is go through the elimination process on what works, what doesn’t work. Okay, these parts came from the old bike. They work, yes, no. Trying new things because it’s a whole new beast. Yes, the 450 is the same frame, but that’s a whole other story. The engine inertia, everything is so different on how it handles. So, it’s been good.
Maximus Vohland | Red Bull KTM
Racer X: Talk a little bit about just stepping onto this new bike. What were your expectations before you even sat on it, versus now? You’ve ridden it a little bit. You’ve got a feel for it. Is it really everything that it’s all cracked up to be so far?
Maximus Vohland: Yeah. Expectations were high hearing from the 450 guys. They were saying how good it was. I was pretty comfortable on my older bike. Even suspension-wise, I hadn't touched it since I crashed on it last year. Now that I’ve hopped on this thing, it’s only been a week and it’s unbelievable how good the whole chassis and suspension setup is on it. Just even noticeable flat ground traction and braking is way better too, compared to my old bike. I actually hopped on my old bike the day I tested this, and I couldn’t believe how bad it felt compared to this thing. I was like, “I don't want to ride this bike anymore. Get me on this new one.”
You had limited time with supercross. You did a lot of supercross testing last year, but you didn’t race a lot and then moved to outdoors kind of quick to get prepped for it. But you even still feel those differences on a supercross track from last year’s bike to this one. It’s like night and day, almost.
Yeah, absolutely. Just the experience I had from outdoors; we didn’t take any time off. Five days total off the bike. I rode Ryan Dungey ride day that Saturday after Hangtown and then straight to supey. Just getting back on the supercross from the outdoors was such a huge difference. I was a completely different rider from supercross when I ended up getting cut short on the season. I couldn’t believe just the outdoor experience made that big of a difference. And of course, being on a 250 for that long. I only had three, four months on a 250 going into supercross.
How much different is this off-season prep now compared to last season? Last season, you kind of got thrust into this whole new team deal and coming aboard with the factory program and all that. Now they have a year of experience under their belt. You have a year of experience under your belt. Is the whole dynamic a lot different, or is it still kind of just learning the ropes a little bit?
It’s definitely been different. That’s why we actually didn’t want to take too much time off. We wanted to get into it so I could really work my weak points early, so by the time everyone starts riding, I can be done with getting through the ties and the ropes and stuff and be on the training program and be focused the whole time. So, that’s been different. It’s been a long off-season, it feels like for me again, because I didn’t take so much time off. But I like racing. I like riding my dirt bike every day. So, I’m enjoying it.
I know you mentioned a little bit still trying to get your feet wet in supercross, but if you go back to nationals, you steadily improved and you were a borderline podium guy towards the end of the season. Is that kind of how you view what you want out of supercross this year? Start slow, but you want to get onto the podium, you want to be up there by the end of it?
Yeah, absolutely. We’re kind of leaning towards East [Region in SX] so I’ll still have a good amount of time to get ready. So, I can’t really stay and point where I’m going to be, but I’m already ahead of where I was last year, for sure. So, results last year could definitely be better. I feel like I could be a top six, five guy right now. End of the season, of course I think I’m capable of podiums and winning on supercross. That could come sooner, depending on how good I am at the start.
What was the biggest learning curve that you found in supercross last year that maybe you didn’t expect? Something like now that you’re under the lights in the stadium and everything like that, it’s a whole different situation than maybe you thought it was? Are you ready to try to tackle this year and change about how you think of it all?
Really the main thing we learned was just the whoops. We worked so much whoops this off-season so far already. That ties together the whole track. It’s unbelievable that literally one section of the track makes everything better. That was what we learned mainly. Of course, being in the stadium with the lights and the fans is definitely a little bit different, but I had Monster Cup experience. So, that I’m used to. Racing the dirt bike, helmet is on and every time behind a gate it always feels the same. All that stuff gets blocked out. So, really, I think the main thing we learned was just kicking the whoops.