If there was a determination award to be presented at the end of the year, it would undoubetedly go to Phil Nicoletti. The N-Fab/Ti-Lube/Yamaha rider is consistently one of the faster riders on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship circuit, but his results are somewhat up and down; a great moto finish will be countered by something out of his control, such as a crash or mechanical issue, in the next outing. 2013 was the first-full season that the New York racer contested, as he hit all rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross tour and then blazed through the summer’s Nationals. Nicoletti made plenty of progress through this season, all of which he will carry into next year.
It’s been quite a long year, but now that we are coming to the end, how do you feel it has gone?
I feel good and kind of glad to only have one round left. You get kind of worn down after a full year of Supercross and outdoors, but this was a big learning curve for me to do the full season. I have never even done a full Lites season in Supercross and the outdoors. I have learned a lot and I think I made a lot of headway.
How was it to come into Supercross? For being your first real season of running the full tour, you did very well.
It was a big learning curve and I don’t necessarily think that I was ready for 405 Supercross. It took a while to get the ball rolling, and then I wasn’t making main events for a while, and that had a pretty big effect on me mentally and I got beat down. But as soon as I made one, I made another and went up to nine in a row, which is good. I was really looking forward to the outdoors, and even halfway through the Supercross season I began riding outdoors because I was over it. Outdoors has gone really well, it is more to my liking, but I am about over outdoors as well [laughs].
Being an East Coast guy, did you have Arenacross experience to help with your Supercross rhythm?
I have done some Arenacross races, some rinky-dink stuff. It wasn’t much of a learning curve, but Supercross compared to that stuff is nothing like I thought it would be. I have never competed in a full year of racing, so to do 17 rounds of 450 Supercross was a big deal. There is a lot that plays in to it, and I have been around the block here and have gone to Australia, so it is cool to get back here and be ready for next year.
You are known for your great rides, but maybe even more known for the bad luck that seems to strike you.
Yeah, and I don’t know what the deal is. This year has actually gone really well, and I have only three DNFs that were mechanical issues that were out of my team’s control. Saying that, I could have lost a solid 24 points, which could have put me in the top-10. The motos that I have done good in, where I have gotten sixth place and top-10 finishes, I haven’t been able to do back to back. I have never had two top-10 finishes in a day. I’ll either have a top-10 in my first moto and then do really badly in the next, or vice-versa. It’s a long way from where I was last year and the year before, so I am happy.
You opened up quite a few people’s eyes last year with your rides on a privateer bike.
Last year I rode for Eleven10, and I did okay. I had a bunch of mechanical problems but my speed was there, so that was my saving grace. I was lucky enough to have the N-Fab/Ti-Lube/Yamaha team to pick me up and give me an opportunity to show what I have. The beginning of the year wasn’t paying off, but now I hope that I am delivering some sort of results for them.
How hard is it to make a name for yourself in this sport?
It’s tough. I wasn’t a star amateur; I did decently well and got a ride out of the amateurs, but I didn’t light the world on fire. My fitness and the bike wasn’t that great, and it was a downward spiral. Going from team to team is not that great when they don’t have budgets, but that stuff happens. We are racing dirt bikes and there is a lot of funding that goes behind it. I think I am starting to come full circle and that people are starting to notice my name a little bit more, which makes a big difference.
What is the plan for next year?
I have no idea. I am trying to work some of that stuff out. I’d like to stay where I am at and ride the 2014 Yamaha next year, and do better.