After four rounds of 250SX East, who can still challenge Jett Lawrence?

The 250SX East class is only four rounds in, yet one rider has distinguished himself from the rest.

Jett Lawrence, Cameron McAdoo, Daytona Supercross 2022.

JETT Lawrence’s 2021 250SX East season was a mixture of exuberance and over-exuberance. He was, but sometimes he was too fast, and he crashed. The crashes cost him the championship, and when he rid the crashes from his game in the 2021 AMA Pro Motocross season he came out the other side as the 250MX champion.

Lawrence brought the same kind of form into 2022, winning the opening 250SX East race in Minneapolis back in February. Since then, he has picked up two more wins, in Daytona and Detroit.

The only blip for the Australian was the Triple Crown in Arlington. Crashes in the first and third races cost Lawrence the win and, although he was able to show good speed coming through the pack, the distance lost at the start proved too much to win back.

It was not an entirely different experience for Lawrence in Arlington as that which Christian Craig endured in Glendale, when the 250SX West class had their Triple Crown race. Of course, Craig’s difficulties were brought about not entirely due to his own actions, but the result was the same: from the back of the field, Craig came through the pack in the second Glendale race to salvage solid points, and he ended the night in second overall.

Perhaps the major difference between the two was that while Craig looked smooth and in control, Lawrence was rather more on the limit, and sometimes over it. A prime example was when the #18 Team Honda HRC rider was trying to pass Austin Forkner in the third Arlington race; got out of shape in the whoops while blowing by the Kawasaki rider; gathered it up in the bowl turn afterwards; only to clip a hay bail on the outside of the track; bounce into Forkner’s path in mid-air over the finish jump; and cause them both to crash. That ended Forkner’s title chances for 2022 on the spot, and possibly his Supercross season as a whole (it seems unlikely he will return but it is not impossible). 

There was no such drama with Craig, but Craig is also much older and much more experienced than Lawrence. At every other race, Lawrence has dominated the 250SX East division, but in those he has pretty much led from the front from the beginning. It will be interesting to see in the next races - if he makes a bad start - whether he will end up making the same mistakes as Arlington, or whether the lesson has been learned.

Although it was Pierce Brown who came closest to Lawrence in the race at Detroit, it was Cameron McAdoo who ended up in second place behind the Honda rider. McAdoo’s 2021 Supercross season was comparable to Lawrence’s, with good speed - although arguably not as much as that of Lawrence - but too many crashes - with more severity than those of Lawrence, especially looking back at Atlanta last year.

McAdoo, like Lawrence, is reformed for 2022, and is the only rider other than the Australian to take a win in the 250SX East class this year when he capitalised on Lawrence’s mistakes in Arlington to win the Triple Crown there.

McAdoo does not perhaps have the speed of Lawrence, and perhaps his ceiling is not as high. But after four rounds of 250SX East, this year’s #48 is only eight points down on the championship leader. 

It was the start that cost the Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider the chance to run with Lawrence in Detroit. Whether a better start would have changed the result will never be known, but it is certainly an area where McAdoo needs to improve this weekend in Indianapolis. There are five 250SX East rounds left, including East/West Showdowns, and while eight points right now might not seem a great deal, 11 points with four to go seems much more significant.

For his chances of winning the championship, it will only get more critical as each round goes by that McAdoo beats Lawrence. However, from a wider perspective, it will be important that rising to the challenge of Jett Lawrence does not result in McAdoo missing a whoop, or sliding the front end out, or cross-rutting in a transition. 

There are a million ways to crash on a supercross track, and the chances of finding one of those ways when pushing on the limit are much higher than when running a couple of per cent below the maximum. McAdoo has been successful at finding that balance so far this year - not as successful as Lawrence, as the points standings evidence, but successful nonetheless. But the extent to which McAdoo is able to begin to push the limit further over the next five rounds will be the determining factor in whether this championship will be remembered as a great fight between two young riders, or as ‘Jett Lawrence’s first supercross title’.