We’re finally back! Phil Nicoletti returned to the race track last weekend in Minneapolis, racing 250SX East Region for the Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha team. Last week we used his answers in the 250SX East Region season preview press conference, but today he is back answering your questions!
(Note: Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.)
Hey man, great job over the weekend. Some other guys tried to make it Deathcross but you looked pretty sharp. Do you think you’ll get even better now that the first one is out of the way, or did you feel mid-season comfortable already?
I appreciate that. I felt okay. I struggled with the 3-3-3 in that long rhythm lane. I tried to piece together the track as best I could, but I felt like if I could get that rhythm, the track would have flowed a lot better for me. I rode decent for the first 12 minutes, and then I kind of fell apart. After the Jordon Smith incident, Enzo Lopes and Levi Kitchen got by me. I latched on to them, but two laps later I missed the triple because I swapped every which way through the whoops. I felt okay for the first round for myself, but definitely not mid-season form. There was a lot of pre-race jitters I had to work through, from practice to night show. Had to relearn the system again. But I enjoyed every minute of it.
Okay, that didn’t take long! I saw you yelling at Cory Carsten in practice and of course setting Austin Forkner straight after the heat race. Welcome back, baby! With Cory, as torn as I am seeing you accost a member of New Jersey royalty, I am okay with it because I know his dad Barry gave you some lessons back in your younger days. Did that run through your mind when you were yelling at these kids?
Of course you try and make something out of nothing! TMZ Weege Show! I did raise the RPM a little bit to Corey. Only to let him know I was right there haha. But yes, Barry didn’t mind saying it how it was back when I was a kid. It’s pretty funny that I broke in racing him and now his kid is starting and I’m there. I also didn’t really yell at anyone. Just was a stern conversation. I didn’t want to be to “unprofessional” and stand on someone’s bike or launch my bike into them like some people. That would be a bit extreme. But everyone agreed, shook hands, and carried on.
My question as a long-time rider/racer is we all spend a lot of time on a new bike getting our suspension/bike set up just right. To make it comfortable. As primarily an off-road guy, once I find a good setting that's it for the season. Once you have it right, you get to know how it’s going to react. What are the pros and cons of riding a bike that is slightly different every time? Do you change up every week or do you just find a setting you like and stick with it? To me even tweaking the handlebars a little drives me nuts. And by the way, is all this bike talk just an excuse for a poor weekend?
Good luck. I'll be cheering you on!
I guess it really depends on what you consider an actual change? Ninety-nine percent of the time we don’t go through a race day without changing a few clicks here or there. Or even changing to a different tire or a tad different gearing. Our sport is insane. The tracks are always changing. So, the variables are never the same. But there is always something to be said with having a solid base package that you can work off of. If you don’t have a solid base package, then forget it.
You can be doing full suspension swap between practices, heat races, and main events to try and get comfortable. Even at the elite factory level that happens. You would never know, but some guys, if struggling, could have a totally different shock from heat race to main. Could a change in valving or spring rate. Same goes for the forks. Now, just imagine being at pinnacle of the sport, and you’re going out on a shock you have no idea about, and you have no idea how it’s going to react on a track you haven’t ridden it on before? That’s mental but it happens quite a bit!
There is a lot of trust between rider and team to keep working and make game time decisions to try and find the slightest bit of comfort. If you’re an average Joe, think about that for a second. Imagine hitting the whoops at A3 on a new shock or fork that you haven’t tried before, and you have no idea how the whoops have changed, and no idea how the new shock or fork is going to work, but you have to block it all out, click a gear and smash those MFers anyway? Yeaaaaahhhhh!