Hunter Lawrence interview
The life of a motocross racer in Europe is never an easy one. If you are from Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain, England or France, there is a process that costs a lot of time, and energy to reach the elite level.
For riders from Australia, New Zealand, America and South Africa, the process is a little different, with many more twists and turns and for sure more difficult.
For the Lawrence family, with two young boys in love with the sport of motocross, it was never a case of if they came to Europe, but when. When they sold up and moved to Europe, it was a big decision and one that thrust the whole family into the European life-style.
Hunter and Jett Lawrence have both shown a good skill level and many feel the two brothers have the potential to go all the way.
When I spoke to Josh Coppins a month or so ago, he mentioned that he felt Hunter had the X-Factor, and Stefan Everts is more than a little excited to have the Aussie under his wing, in the Suzuki Factory team.
We caught up with Hunter and asked him about his expectations for 2017, and how it is to be a factory rider so early in his career.
Mxlarge: Obviously, you have really made a statement in Europe. A lot of interest and some good results. How does that feel for you personally?
Lawrence: I wouldn’t say a statement. For me the year didn’t go as planned, but for sure I think I showed some glimpses of potential and speed. I’m so happy to be living here in Europe and doing what I love every week and racing in the GP’s, for me they were all new tracks so it’s really fun as well!
Mxlarge: Working with Stefan Everts, why did you make that decision and was it financially the best deal offered? Or was the money not at all important for this decision?
Lawrence: By all means the money is not what concerns me. I don’t have dollar signs in my eyes yet, and my goals are reaching where I want to be as a rider. It was logistically the best and the team was such a solid team, everything about the team is highly professional and runs like a dream. The practicing situation is awesome as well with how the team is run and organized. Obviously, I haven’t gotten to be at a GP with the team yet so I am still waiting to see how that is but at the moment I am loving everything about the team I feel the decision we made was the best decision. Working with Stefan is good, I have only been working with him since early November but how he runs a team is really impressive. It’s so good to have someone running the team with so much knowledge and experience it definitely goes a long way. The transition into the new team has been super easy which is also a big bonus, everyone from the riders to mechanics are awesome and I get along with them so it’s a good atmosphere.
Mxlarge: Stefan mentioned he was really excited to have you in his team. Is that cool the greatest GP rider of all time feels that?
Lawrence: Oh, for sure, to have him wanting me to be on his team is an amazing feeling, and, I am so fortunate and lucky to have been given this opportunity by Suzuki, Thomas and Stefan, it’s awesome! I just want to put my head down and work hard and see where this opportunity can take me.
Mxlarge: How important is it for you and your brother to be in the same team?
Lawrence: It makes life easier, for instance if I were on Suzuki and Jett was on let’s say Yamaha it would be a little complicated, as I am at the age where I need dad at the races to help me, and as a mentor who knows me best as he has been my trainer for 16 years, and Jett also needs him so it would be difficult to have us on different teams.
Mxlarge: Its cold in Europe, and not the best place to be in December. How do you find the change from Australia to Europe?
Lawrence: Yeah, it kind of sucks when the winter really kicks in over here in Europe, but it’s good for your character building ha-ha. I mean what’s not to love about doing moto’s in half frozen, rough, rutted, sand tracks in 0-3 and minus degrees with rain. I definitely miss the heat of Aussie, I don’t know how I would cope with the heat of Australia now from being in such cool weather over here even the summer here in Belgium isn’t as hot as Aussie, but I am getting used to the cold conditions now so it’s okay ha-ha.
MXlarge: Where is your base in Europe and what is your living situation?
Lawrence: Having a base in Belgium makes it easier, as that’s where the Suzuki factory is.
Mxlarge: What are your career goals?
Lawrence: My short-term goals for 2017 are simple. I just want to have a good learning year and make good progress throughout the year just each day be better than I was the previous day, my long-term goal is to be world champ that’s always been a dream of mine and then also going to America and racing there is also on the bucket list!
Mxlarge: Who are your heroes in motocross, but also in life and why?
Lawrence: In motocross, I am a big Villopoto fan I loved watching him race, and, I love to watch Kenny (Roczen) ride and Chad Reed, how he rides a bike, he is a worker and the obvious one he is also an Aussie and out of motocross I love Connor McGregor from UFC he’s a bit of a character and a champion but I love his work ethic as he backs up his talking.
Mxlarge: What other interests do you have outside of motocross?
Lawrence: I enjoy being out on the farm with Heiko working around on the farm and hanging with my mates out from East Germany it’s fun and it’s a similar area to where I was in Aussie so it’s cool. In Aussie I used to downhill MTB in my spare time but I don’t have a lot of spare time over here as the year is pretty busy.
Mxlarge: When was your first interest in the MXGP series? What made you interested?
Lawrence: Probably 2-3 years ago, I started to get interested in the MXGP series and because I started coming to the junior world championship events since 2011 on a 65cc so the interest just grew.
Mxlarge: Do you also keep track of the American scene? If so, what do you like about it?
Lawrence: Yes, for sure I think Australia is more of an American influenced scene more so than the European MX scene, I think the Euro scene is coming more on the radar in Aussie, and I am really enjoying Europe at the moment, but for sure if I ever had the opportunity to go on to USA I would definitely grab onto it with two hands. I believe there is something to be learnt in Europe before going on to America though just from looking in the past of all the riders that have gone to Europe and then USA have had different results to the guys who went straight to USA.
Mxlarge: How would you describe your riding and attitude to the sport?
Lawrence: My riding I would say is a technical and smooth style, more so than a rip it and grip it style. I live for the sport and so does my family, we are extremely committed to the sport hence selling everything we had in Aussie and moving over here, but it’s our life and we love it.
Mxlarge: Are there riders you can learn from and if yes, who are they?
Lawrence: For sure I learn a lot just from watching heaps of riders whether they are in Europe, or US or even Aussie. Dad always taught me that you can always learn a little something from everyone. Whether it’s an 85-rider taking better lines, or if it’s someone like Jeffrey Herlings moving his body different to make his bike handle better you can learn from everyone.
Mxlarge: A lot of Aussies coming to Europe in 2017. Do you have an opinion how some of them will do?
Lawrence: I have no idea ha-ha, I haven’t seen Caleb and Jed race since I was in Aussie, so I don’t know how they will go, I’m sure they have a goal of where they want to be in their class like I do so we will see how we all go!
Mxlarge: What are your goals in 2017?
Lawrence: My goal for 2017 as silly as it sounds is to make the full season, there is I think 20 rounds next year and the European championship was only 10, and I got injured on the 5th round so I only made it half way, so for me just making good progress. Stefan has said to me what we want to focus on next year is just good progress and learning to be a contender for 2018.
Mxlarge: What people helped you throughout your career? I understand Josh worked with you, and of course your family?
Lawrence: Throughout my career it has been my dad mostly. We had some coaches around when I was younger but last year at Yamaha yes Josh helped me out, and I stayed two weeks at his with Jay Wilson, which was really cool. Also Mike Ward and Scott Bishop from the team I was on, they were really helpful. Scott was good and simplifying things to me when I was over thinking things, and Mike Ward was really good from Monday to Sunday. He was so helpful whether it was at the races or at a practice track, so I think those three helped me out quite a bit in my past year and a big influence to me personally! This year I was living with Heiko and training with him more so off the bike which was good, he is a big part of our team and my life now, it’s like a second family to me.