HUNTER LAWRENCE INTERVIEW: THE “COMEBACK KID” PREPARES FOR 2020 FOX RACEWAY NATIONAL
It was big news when brothers Hunter and Jett Lawrence made the move to America to race for Geico Honda. The Australian duo had already made their mark in Europe. Older brother Hunter had high expectations from everyone in the Pro pits as he had already made a splash in the MXGP scene, but with pre-season injuries in 2019 and 2020 knocking him out of the majority of Supercross, soon it was younger brother Jett who was in the limelight. Hunter made American Pro debut at the Salt Lake City Supercross rounds where he finished 13thand 7thin two of the West Coast Main Events, but he missed the Main Event for the 250 East/West Shootout. Round 1 of the Pro Motocross series wasn’t great as he suffered a DNF at the first Loretta Lynn event and Round 2 in Tennessee was even worse as he dislocated his shoulder. While some riders might’ve opted out for surgery, Hunter stayed in it. Initially, his results struggled, but now the old Hunter is coming back and at the 2020 Thunder Valley National, the 21-year-old was able to get into the top five. We caught up with him to see where his mind was at after the race.
By Jim Kimball
HUNTER, IT HAS BEEN A ROUGH YEAR HASN’T IT? It has not been easy. I think I speak for everyone when I say it is a year to forget. Obviously, 2020 has not been really pleasant, but we are healthy, and we are finally healed up now. So now we are just progressing and trying to finish off the season strong, and back up in the top five, which we have been chipping closer and closer to. We have a few sixth-place moto finishes. It is unfortunate about the DNFs and the issues we had, but hey that is life and just how it goes.
WASN’T IT IN ROUND ONE WHEN YOU DISLOCATED YOUR SHOULDER? Yes, and it popped out and that sucked. I thought my season was over and but fortunately, it wasn’t. We did not do any ligament damage and it feels good now, but it took a lot of time to get it back to 100 percent. Even now, it is good, but it is not 100 percent. It is getting better and better and good enough to ride, but I am just building it back. Now to have my best result with a top five in Colorado, we are moving in the right direction.
THAT HAD TO BE DEVASTATING WHEN IT HAPPENED, IN MANY CASES THAT REQUIRES SURBERY. It was, I did not even crash. I had already built my shoulder back from the first shoulder operation I did in December. We had been training and there have been no issues with it; not one weakness. When it happened at Loretta Lynn’s again, I was just doubting everything I had been doing. I wanted to quit that day. I just felt “I am done, I can’t take it anymore. What else can I do right or wrong? I am just getting from so much bad luck with these injuries.” Then one or two days later, I thought “let’s keep going, let’s keep going for the gold and just remain mentally tough.”
YOU HAVE PROGRESSED A LOT, AND KUDOS TO YOU. I DON’T KNOW IF I WOULD HAVE THE MENTAL TOUGHNESS TO STILL RACE. It is rough, as I said I wanted to quit that first day. But then I listened to all the good people I have around me. With my little crew of my agent, my father, Johnny O’Mara, and my girlfriend, they all helped a lot. Everyone kept feeding positive information to me. That picks you up because you can be hard on yourself when you are at rock bottom. You are already coming off of a six-month deficit due to an off-season injury and then during the season, you get another injury. Nonetheless, we are able to be back fighting for that top five finish. It has been a big progression rate where a lot of other riders have declined in their results during the season. So, going from Loretta Lynn’s, thinking my year was over to Indiana where like it was outside top ten by quite a bit because I could barely hold on to the bar to being able to push the whole way through the motos and be strong all the way through the races, I’ve come a long way.
“Everything goes into this job, this passion, this profession, whatever you want to call it and when it goes wrong, it is the most heartbreaking thing in the world. You cannot explain it.”
YOU PERSEVERED AND STUCK WITH IT AND NOW YOU’RE LOOKING GOOD. For sure, we are not exactly where we want to be, but we are just digging and building. It is all we can do. I want to win. It is not like I feel the pressure that people think that I have to win or expect me to. I dedicate my whole life to it. Everything goes into this job, this passion, this profession, whatever you want to call it and when it goes wrong, it is the most heartbreaking thing in the world. You cannot explain it. You literally cannot explain the lows, but the highs are obviously unmatchable, and it makes it all worth it and that is the goal we are chasing.
IT HAS BEEN STATED THAT GEICO IS PULLING OUT OF THE TEAM, DOES THAT MEAN YOU ARE SHOPPING AROUND? As far as we are concerned, there is not much we can do but just focus on finishing up the season. It is up to the management with what goes on with the team. But no, I am not looking around. My job is just to go and race the bike, that is my job. My agent has the job to look out for my contracts. I do not have enough time and mental capacity to be investing everything into my job as well as looking around at other teams for a spot. I can’t do that and that is why we have Lucas Mirtl as our agent, he is doing that. I know he has us in his best interest, and that is all I can say really.
“I actually have not had a break in a long time, I just keep working until I can achieve my goals. I can rest after my career.”
WHAT ABOUT AFTER THE SERIES IS OVER, WILL YOU TAKE ANY TIME OFF? No, even with my injuries, it is not like I have had time off. With the injuries, it is almost like the work increases because you are trying to rehab your injury, while trying to stay as fit and strong as you can. You are working something back up that is already at a deficit from an injury. I actually have not had a break in a long time, I just keep working until I can achieve my goals. I can rest after my career.
YOUR YOUNGER BROTHER JETT HAS BEENDOING FANTASTIC, IS THERE MUCH RIVALRY BETWEEN YOU TWO? Yes, for sure, especially as he has been doing really well. There is no jealousy, it is just a rivalry. If you see any rider doing better than you, it is automatic to be somewhat pissed, but not at him directly. When I see someone on the podium, I am upset that they beat me. Winning is our goal and our dream and its difficult when you are not achieving it. You really put a lot of time, sweat, effort, tears and just devotion to that goal.
I AM REALLY IMPRESSED THAT YOU SEEM TO HAVE A GOOD MINDSET AND LIKE YOU SAID, YOU WERE REALLY DOWN FOR MAYBE A LITTLE BIT BUT YOU HAVE GOOD PEOPLE AROUND YOU. Exactly and having good people around us is the best thing you can do. You surround yourself with negative, insecure people, and you are going to become a negative and insecure person. So that is why I surround myself with good people. They are happy to have me around because I am a mentally strong person and I am generally always in a good mood and positive. When you have people that are positive and stuff, only good things can come from that.