When the Joe Gibbs Racing/Suzuki tie up was announced last month, it included the addition of a 250 component. At that time, it was expected that Phil Nicoletti would continue his service for the JGR team and simply bump down to the 250 class for the 250SX East Region, and Matt Bisceglia, who rode for Suzuki last year, seemed to be a likely candidate for a 250SX West Region spot. Now that exact duo has been confirmed by Suzuki. The exact coasts each rider will race has not yet been announced.
What is interesting is that the team will not actually operate in the same manner of the JGR 450 team. We have heard the 250 bikes will be built and developed primarily at the Yoshimura race shop in California, instead of JGR’s North Carolina shop, which develops and builds the 450s. Surely there will be some collaboration between the two, but consider this to be two Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z250s housed in the JGR pits at the races.
Bisceglia raced RM-Z250s for the Mad Racing Suzuki team last year in Monster Energy Supercross, but parted ways with the team before Lucas Oil Pro Motocross began. Bisceglia got a late start on supercross prep due to some off-season injuries, and only scored 10th in the 250SX East standings, but he did grab a podium in Toronto.
After leaving the Mad Racing team, Bisceglia became a fill-in for Yoshimura Suzuki’s 450 outfit, and rode very well, scoring top 10 finishes in nine of 14 motos entered. His best moto finish was sixth at the final moto of the season in Indiana. Bisceglia is the 2013 AMA Horizon Award winner from the amateur ranks, and spent his first two pro seasons with GEICO Honda.
Nicoletti hasn’t ridden the 250 class since the 2012 season with Eleven10 Mods on Hondas. He was plenty fast, grabbing two fifth-place finishes on privateer equipment. Since then, he’s been a 450 rider.
“We are looking forward to having a 250 effort this year as part of our team,” said JGRMX team owner Coy Gibbs in a press release today. “This is the perfect opportunity for riders who feel they have some unfinished business in the class like Phil and other riders like Matt who are looking for a stepping stone into the 450 ranks in the coming years.”
“The launch of JGRMX Suzuki has been very exciting for Suzuki, and with Justin Barcia’s podium performance in his debut race at Bercy-Lille on the RM-Z450 last weekend, anticipation is high for the start of the Supercross season” said Kerry Graeber, vice president, MC/ATV sales and marketing for SMAI. “Suzuki is focused on re-energizing its 250 class platform, and the addition of a strong effort between JGRMX and Suzuki, with assistance from Yoshimura R&D, will allow us to compete for championships in the near future.”
Justin Barcia and Weston Peick remain the 450 riders for the AutoTrader.com/ Monster Energy/JGR Suzuki team, but we suspect Nicoletti would still get pressed into 450 service in supercross if one of those riders goes down with an injury. For Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, Nicoletti will go back to the 450s, while Bisceglia will race 250s all season.