Mentor and mentee, brothers-in-law or just plain friends, the relationship between Enzo Lopes and Phil Nicoletti has grown through the years as the two Club MX riders have become close during Lopes’ five years on a 250 Monster Energy Supercross bike.
Their banter is immediately apparent in an interview with NBC Sports that ran as part of the Raceday live coverage on PeacockTv.com.
“It was one of the first few days I was riding with him, I kind of cut the track,” Enzo Lopes said, with a lilt to his voice in the interview above. “He got super mad, like he usually does.”
“I yelled at him,” Nicoletti replied. “He probably didn’t understand what I was saying.”
“He’s grumpy always,” Enzo continued. “At the beginning I didn’t know how to deal with it, but now I think it’s super funny.”
Lopes joined the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series in 2018. Coming from Brazil, there were no opportunities to race in the tight confines of a stadium and the outdoor season created a bridge, so Lopes successfully debuted in Supercross the following season. He earned his first top-10 in his fifth start in Seattle. It took only one more week to earn a second at Denver. The next year, Lopes earned six top-10s in eight starts in a season interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“More than being grumpy, he’s kind of like my mentor,” Lopes said. “He guides me through my decisions and helps me with what I’m doing, not only on the track, but off track so he’s really good in that part for me.”
The guidance has worked. So far in 2023, Lopes sits fifth in the standings, just one point behind Mitchell Oldenburg. He’s achieved that on the strength of a pair of top-fives and two sixth-place results in five rounds. His one bad weekend came in the Anaheim Triple Crown format race when he finished 13th overall with an 11-9-18.
“[Phil] is not only a friend, a teammate now, but he also dates my sister so he’s my brother-in-law, so there’s that,” Lopes said. “We’re kind of the dynamic duo.”
Lopes, 23, has found a role model in Nicoletti, 34 at Club MX.
“I yell at him too,” Nicoletti said. “I think he kind of gets mad because I remind him of his dad sometimes, but I think Enzo can be a championship guy, a one in three guy, but until he gets that mentality to where he wants to really dig for it and suffer for it – if you don’t grind now and put in the next six years, all that sacrifice you did as a kid is kind of worthless.”
The next accomplishment for Lopes is to stand on the podium. He’s come close in two races this year with fourth-place finishes in San Diego in Week 2 and in the most recent round at Seattle. With three races in Glendale under the Triple Crown format, he has a great opportunity this week.