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Aussie Jett Lawrence chasing perfection in motocross season finale

Jett Lawrence has already given Honda its first 450cc motocross championship since 2003 while becoming the eighth rookie to clinch the title in his rookie season.

The 20-year-old Aussie has one more piece of history in his sights and it's a big one: a perfect season.

Win at Indiana’s Ironman Raceway on Saturday, Lawrence will complete the fourth perfect motocross season in the last 50 years and put his name up there with Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart, two of the greatest racers in the sport's history.

“It means the world to me to be up there with those two names,” Lawrence said. “It's an unreal opportunity. Those guys are legends in the sport and to even be in the same sentence as them is an honor.”

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After a stint in Europe, Lawrence hit the ground spinning once he arrived in the United States, winning consecutive 250cc titles.

A move up to motocross' highest class has done nothing to slow him down.

Despite close calls at Washington’s Washougal MX Park and last week at Maryland’s Budds Creek Motocross Park, Lawrence is a perfect 20 for 20 heading into the season finale at Ironman.

Win there and he will join Carmichael and Stewart as the only riders to complete a perfect season. Carmichael had the first perfect season in 2002 and matched it in 2004. Stewart rode to perfection in 2008.

“The scary thing is he's just getting started in on the 450 and he's only going to get better from here,” said Davey Coombs, president of MX Sports Pro Racing. “He's better at age 19 than even Ricky Carmichael or James Stewart were at this age, which is something I never thought I would say about anyone else in moto."

Lawrence grew up in Landsborough, Queensland, wanting to emulate his brother, as most little brothers tend to do.

Following the tire tracks of Hunter, Jett proved to be an adept rider at an early age and by 11 had won his first junior world championship. He continued to race in Europe until the brothers move to the United States to test themselves against the best riders in the world.

“We found the best way to succeed in America is going through Europe,” Lawrence said. “A lot of people who went from Australia to Europe to America seemed to have a high succeeding rate, so I'm taking that route and I think it helped a lot with my riding.”

Jett Lawrence got his career off to an inauspicious start, breaking his collarbone in the third race of the Supercross 250cc season. After healing up, he had a solid first outdoor season, earning four top-five finishes while finishing fourth in the season championship, earning rookie of the year honors.

After signing a factory deal with HRC Honda, Lawrence finished third in the 2021 Supercross championship before earning his first motocross title that summer. He followed that by winning the Supercross 250cc East title and defending his motocross title, earning a bump up to 450s.

Lawrence won his first seven races as a 450 rider before facing a stiff test at Washougal.

Lawrence missed the holeshot in the first moto to see his laps-led streak end at 105, but he quickly passed Dylan Ferrandis and rode off to the win. Lawrence missed the holeshot again in the second moto, bided his time and made a pass on the tight track before cruising to victory.

Lawrence again had to come from behind in the first moto at Budds Creek, then had to hold off Chase Sexton down the stretch. He won his 20th race of the season by again holding off Sexton in the second moto.

That wrapped up the 450cc title while his brother put himself in position to win the 250cc title this weekend.

“I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat all summer long to see this run at history by Jett and he's earned it, every lap of every moto, week after week,” Coombs said. “And even as the pressure has built, he seems to be oblivious to it all.”

The last lap toward history comes at Ironman. Don't expect Lawrence to flinch, even with history on the line.

___

AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports