Forget Alex & Marc Marquez, the Lawrence brothers are racing’s greatest siblings

Four titles from a possible four, including one historic unbeaten season, has put both Jett and Hunter Lawrence already among the all-time greats.

Jett Lawrence, 2023 AMA Pro Motocross Ironman National. - Honda

Successful siblings are becoming a seemingly increasing trend in motorcycle racing, but the level of success achieved by the Lawrence brothers in US motocross this year is unlikely to be topped.

When Marc Marquez and Alex Marquez both won world titles in 2019 (Marc in MotoGP, Alex in Moto2), they repeated a feat they managed in 2014 (Marc in MotoGP, Alex in Moto3). For the older brother, Marc, it was his eighth World Championship in 10 seasons, proving his unquenchable thirst for victory; while 2019’s Moto2 crown was Alex’s second title.

At the end of 2018, one year before the Marquez brothers won what remain their most recent titles, Hunter Lawrence was preparing for his first season of AMA Supercross. The Australian had moved from his homeland to Europe with his family, and then uprooted once more to head to the US. 

By now, the Lawrences had thrown their lives away twice to pursue the dream of motocross, and they were now banking it all on the US, and an opportunity with the Factory Connection Honda team (then, effectively the factory Honda team for the 250cc class of American motocross and supercross).

It did not go immediately to plan, as Lawrence injured himself out of the 2019 AMA Supercross 250SX series with injury. The next year, 2020, the same thing happened, and then the Factory Connection team closed. 

This time, while Lawrence was on the sidelines, his brother - Jett Lawrence - had made himself known at the 2020 Anaheim 2 Supercross, where he led most of the way before losing the lead to Dylan Ferrandis on the final lap and then crashed out trying to reclaim the lead.

This convinced American Honda to re-enter the 250cc class of US motocross and supercross as a full factory effort run from within HRC just like the 450 team. It also convinced them to sign Hunter Lawrence and Jett Lawrence to that team. In a sense, it was not dissimilar to the Repsol-backed setup Marc Marquez had in Moto2, in that the team was not only built around the Lawrence brothers, but they were essentially the only reason it existed.

By 2021, Honda’s bet paid off, as Jett Lawrence won the AMA Pro Motocross 250MX title. The next year, the 250MX title was defended, and added to it was a 250SX East title. But, in 2023, Honda - and the Lawrence brothers - reached uncharted territory.

In Supercross, Jett Lawrence cruised to the AMA Supercross 250SX West title, and Hunter Lawrence clinched the East Coast crown that Jett had won in 2022. In the 450SX class, Honda’s success was confirmed by Chase Sexton, who won HRC’s first professional 450 national title since Ricky Carmichael won the premier class Pro Motocross crown (then 250MX in the days of two-strokes) in 2004 before he left for Suzuki.

It was indoor domination for Honda, but there was still a job to do outdoors. When Chase Sexton contracted mononucleosis after the opening round of the Pro Motocross season at Pala, it was clear that Honda’s chances of success would hinge on the Lawrence brothers.

In the 250 class, Hunter’s consistency contrasted to the variance in results from his rivals. He won each of the first four overalls, which meant that, when problems struck in Red Bud and in Southwick, he was still within sight of the points lead. After those two difficult races, Hunter won three of the next four overalls, and was third in the other race, meaning the title was his to lose entering the final round at Ironman, where he wrapped the championship in the first moto.

For Jett, in the 450MX class, the situation was much more simple. He beat Sexton in both motos at Pala at the opening round, and no one else came close to challenging him in the next races while Sexton was out recovering from the aforementioned mononucleosis (with the exception of one-event entrant Ken Roczen who out-qualified Lawrence and came close to winning a moto at round four at High Point). Then, even when Sexton returned, Lawrence continued to prove unbeatable.

Lawrence, a 450 rookie in 2023 Pro Motocross (note: he raced the FIM Motocross of Nations on a 450 in 2022), entered the final round at Ironman unbeaten, and that was a record he maintained through that 11th and final round, his insatiable appetite for victory mirroring that which drove Marc Marquez and which, incidentally, may now drive him away from Honda.

When Carmichael won Honda’s last premier class national title before Sexton in 2023 AMA Supercross, he did so by winning every moto of the 2004 Pro Motocross championship. On that occasion, it was Carmichael’s second unbeaten season, after 2002, and even by ‘02 Carmichael had been in the premier class for four seasons.

Other than Carmichael and Lawrence, only James Stewart has completed an unbeaten season in the premier class of Pro Motocross, which he did in 2008.  That makes Lawrence the first rider to complete the feat in 15 years, and - since Stewart debuted in the premier class in 2005 - the first rider to do it in his debut season.

For Honda, the Lawrence brothers’ success, combined with that of Sexton in 450SX, has made it the first brand to sweep all three AMA Supercross and both AMA Pro Motocross titles in the same year.

Short circuit road racing currently has a wealth of successful siblings. Valentino Rossi and Luca Marini are both Grand Prix winners; as are Pol Espargaro and Aleix Espargaro; Marc Marquez and Alex Marquez became Grand Prix World Champions in the same year on two occasions; and Sam Lowes and Alex Lowes won the World Supersport and British Superbike titles, respectively, in the same season. But, the extent to which the achievements of Hunter and Jett Lawrence in 2023 are unique means that the Lawrences now stand out as a distinctive racing dynasty. With Hunter yet to make his 450 debut, and Jett only 20-years-old, there remains plenty of time in both riders’ respective careers for that distinction to grow.

The downside for both Honda and the Lawrence brothers is that the 2023 season is not over. The perfect 2023, in terms of titles, for both Honda and the Lawrence brothers is not yet complete because of the introduction this year of the end-of-season SuperMotocross World Championship play-offs (which is a ‘play-off’ format in which no one gets eliminated and in which the final round is three-times more valuable in terms of points than the first round; and is a ‘World Championship’ which takes place at three locations, all of which are in the US).

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