Viewpoint: Hunter Lawrence

In-depth chat with Hunter Lawrence

· 8 min read

Hunter Lawrence has had a difficult start to the FIM Motocross World Championship, but not all of the details were made public before now. It turns out that he got parts late, then faced a virus in Argentina and The Netherlands. Lawrence was dealt another blow at Pietramurata, unfortunately, as a hand injury is going to rule him out of the Grand Prix of Portugal this weekend.

MX Vice: Obviously, terrible weekend. Not what you wanted at all. Just kind of run us through what happened, what the plan is from here and all of that.

Hunter Lawrence: Yeah, bit of a bummer. Hard to swallow. It has been a bit of a rough start. I was feeling confident coming into the series. First two rounds were pretty heavy. We were effected by a virus and stuff, then right before Red Sand was the first week we had on the bike. The first two days of proper training within three to four weeks. We just had two weeks after Red Sand until here and I think we started to make some good steps back in the right way. I was feeling back to 100%. Then for this happen, it is a punch in the gut – that is for sure. Devastating. That is motocross. It has happened.

All I can do now is get my head around it and just look forward. We are going to go to the doctor as soon as possible, hopefully Tuesday when I get back, then obviously we’ll find out more on how bad it is and whatnot. We have some ideas on what we can work on to better ourselves again. It gives us a bit of time now to go back to the drawing board and come back stronger.

Obviously I think the championship is a bit too much to ask now, so we’re just going to come back and just try and win as much as we can. Just get some podiums and race wins and keep building and developing on the new bike for next year. That is another thing. We have only had like three months on this new bike, as we got it so late and new brand. It is a lot of small things but that is life.

Hunter Lawrence is hoping to return to racing at the MXGP of Russia (Honda Pro Racing/Bavo Swijgers)

Did you have that virus actually in Argentina? If you did, I guess you proper surprised yourself in the first moto there.

Yeah, for sure. It was funny because the first moto I was pushing the whole one and I came off pretty spent. I was sort of in the back of my head a bit like, "Gee, in an hour or so I got to go and do it again and give it a red hot crack." It was the best weekend for being sick and stuff. You look at Argentina and you go, "Okay, we’ll get rid of it. In Valkenswaard we will come back swinging." It just hung around so much longer than we expected, so it really knocked us flat on our back. Every interview and time you talk to someone you are thinking, yeah, we are fixing it. It should be sweet tomorrow or next week or whatever. It was a big stagnant. Fingers crossed and touch wood that it is going now.

So when you did that Instagram post a couple of weeks ago that said “push through the hard times" or something, and everyone blew up saying it is the bike, it was just because of that?

Yeah, sure. It was sort of a thing. We have sacrificed so much to be where we are. I believe I work my ass off for everything I have and everything I have achieved and where I am. It is something that you sort of sit there and ask yourself why some things happen at this time and to you. It seems all like sunshine and rainbows. You do not see anyone else’s struggle. You ask yourself, “why am I going through this?" Then with this one as well.

Today seeing [Thomas Kjer] Olsen and [Pauls] Jonass. This was let’s say their bad luck weekend and I am sitting on the couch watching. You bash your head up against the wall. Everything we do for this stupid sport, but as soon as the injury happens you are already thinking about the sport again.

Lawrence is sixth in the MX2 standings with ninety-nine points to his name (Honda Pro Racing/Bavo Swijgers)

I am sure you heard the rumours at the beginning of the year, or beginning of the MXGP season, that the GEICO parts had not come, they were not what you expected and all of that. That was not true, right? You just got it a bit late because it was an all-new bike and all of that?

Sure. It has got nothing to do with that. The stuff we have… If they do not believe it, they can come and take my helmet and take it for a ride. The stuff we are on is good. It is a lot better than what we had last year. It is not a KTM – that’s no secret. We are a hell of a lot closer to them than what we were last year. You can see on my starts. In Argentina I got a holeshot and second one was top five. I backed off before the corner and then that is why I ended up not so great, but the start in the qualifying race was also good.

It is just I can barely hold on. I chickened out pretty much in the corner. It is difficult. They have in America so many guys on their team and they got their stuff late as well, because it is just a new bike. They have like six guys that need to be on those new bikes, so it is not easy. We got our bikes the end of January. We rode stock bikes in all of the pre-season races. It is what it is. That is just the sort of thing of being on a privateer team.

With the virus and everything that happened after you got the parts, I am guessing you are probably missing out on testing time?

Sure. We rode our race bikes in Argentina. It is difficult, but we cannot complain. This is what we have got. I would much rather that than be racing close to stock on a Honda. The support we have from them is great. Like I said, we have so many odds stacked up against us for the title chase this year, just budgets and all these things. But we are doing everything we can. I believe this bike is good enough to win. I really do.

I think it’s just a matter of me being back to 100%. That is just why I am a bit bummed. It seems like I have had all these excuses from viruses and then coming back to not enough ride time and now to this. It is sort of like I have only had excuses this year, which is a bummer because no one really got to see what I am capable of.

Lawrence is locked in with GEICO Honda for the next three years (Monster Energy Media/Ray Archer)

Are you in constant contact with the GEICO guys? Have they given you tips on how to improve the bike and little settings that those guys are using to help?

Yeah, for sure. We talk after every weekend and obviously give feedback on how our performance was and stuff like that. A little difficult for them to give feedback to us on how to better it, let’s say for somewhere like Valkenswaard. Those guys, they are testing supercross. They have not tested that bike on outdoors yet, so we are sort of giving what feedback we have for outdoors for them. If supercross comes to Europe, then they will be able to give us more feedback on what they are doing. But they talk with us after every week, with Victor the crew chief and me also. It is good to have that relationship.

This is your last year in MXGP. Everyone knows that. You wanted the title and that is probably not going to happen now. It sounds bad, but is that kind of like your main goal is gone now. Do you just kind of want to get to America and move onto the next one? You are in this weird phase now, where you are just going to be kicking around. Wins will be great, but not what you really wanted.

Yeah, sure. That is true what you say. The title is a big question now for me. I’m here to just enjoy the time I have left in Europe. Yeah, I want to win. I am sick of losing to the orange and white bikes, so I want to beat them before I leave. Obviously, the one thing I was sort of not wanting to do was leave here with not a great result. If I can leave here with a bit of cash in my pocket from some bonuses and a bit of confidence, now it’s really to keep developing the bike and to get used to it.

This will be the first year that I’ll be on the same bike the following year, which I think is a big thing. It takes you a good couple, four or five months to adjust to a bike completely until you can sit on that thing or even walk a track and look at the bumps and say, "my bike is going to kick on that bump."

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Honda Pro Racing/Bavo Swijgers

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