After months of uncertainty, the AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing team have worked out a deal to have Phil Nicoletti on the starting line for “select rounds” of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in the 450 class. This comes at a key point in the year for the rider and team, as Nicoletti’s original contract with JGRMX was only to race the 250 West Coast portion of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series and did not include the outdoors, a series that Nicoletti is much better in (Nicoletti finished fifth overall in the 450 championship in 2016). With full-time 450 rider Justin Bogle just now getting back on the bike due to injuries he suffered at the San Diego Supercross, the team has tapped Nicoletti to ride the factory bike in the early portion of the championship. Before this announcement, it was uncertain if Nicoletti would race at all this summer.
This is the second “select rounds” deal that the AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing team has signed in the last month, as they have also hired incoming rookie Enzo Lopes to race in the 250 class while Jimmy Decotis recovers from injuries.
The press release from the team is posted in full below…
The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team is happy to announce that Phil Nicoletti will be contesting select 450 rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship this summer. The Cochecton, NY native will be filling in on the all-new Suzuki RM-Z450 while Justin Bogle heals from an upper arm injury sustained during the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship.
Nicoletti has been with the Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team since 2014. Determined and tough, the 29-year-old has earned 27 top-ten finishes in the 450 Nationals during his career, including three overall top-five finishes. Nicoletti will compete on a race-by-race basis until Justin Bogle returns to action.
"I'm happy to be able to ride the Suzuki RM-Z450 for the outdoors," stated Nicoletti. "I want to redeem myself after missing most of the Nationals last year, and not having the chance to race the RM-Z450 to my full potential. I'm excited to ride the new chassis and continue my relationship with my friends on the Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team."
Team manager Jeremy Albrecht is looking forward to continue working with Nicoletti. "I'm excited to have Phil continue with us for the start of the Nationals. He has the ability to make an impact on the RM-Z450. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish."