Frid’Eh Update #4 | Jake Piccolo | Brought to You by Fox Racing

By Billy Rainford

Brought to you by Fox Racing Canada
Week #4 belongs to the 2021 Canadian 250 champion, Jake Piccolo. | Bigwave photo

Welcome to Week #4 of the DMX Frid’Eh Update this week brought to you by Fox Racing Canada. I’m down in California for one more round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross in Anaheim for A2 on Saturday. I know it sounds like a nice way to spend a month in January, and don’t get me wrong, it is, but there really isn’t a whole lot of time to just sit back and enjoy the sun and the surf.

Every rider who is here preparing and racing SX is on a pretty regimented schedule of training and riding, so that means that’s what I’m doing to. I’ve been trying to get to as many different tracks as I can to catch different riders doing there things as the season moves along.

The thing I enjoy doing the most is giving all the privateer riders some attention. They aren’t the ones being flown in and out each week. These guys are loading their vans and trailers to go to the various practice tracks and then driving up and down the coast of California to the next round.

Fortunately, the 250 West series makes that about as easy as it can be. However, we’re about to leave California and start criss-crossing the country on a weekly basis. These riders are about to spend a ton of money on gas and a crazy amount of time staring at the road.

It’s been fun hitting all the practice tracks in California. | Bigwave photo

It’s also kind of rewarding when these guys roll up beside me and take the time to thank me for giving them some love. It’s nice to know it’s appreciated. I don’t do it for the accolades, but I know how much it takes to get to these races because I’m trying to do it the same way!

I will start heading home to Ontario as soon as the racing finishes this week. Well, after the press conference, of course. Google Maps says it’s a 36-hour drive so I’ll aim to do it in the same 3 days it took me to get out here in the first place. The only problem is that the weather will continue to get worse as I go this time, instead of the opposite.

I’ll miss a couple rounds as I head back out to Kamloops, BC to look after my mom for a couple weeks while my sister takes a much needed vacation. From there I’ll catch up with the series in Daytona and hit as many east rounds as makes sense.

I’ve seen a few videos of this week’s honouree riding the Supercross tracks of Club MX down in South Carolina. He came up through the ranks racing in the barn out in Chilliwack, BC, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do indoors.

Jake Piccolo is the the rider who has been dropping our jaws since he first hit a motocross track as a little kid. I’ll tell anyone who will listen this next story about him:

I flew out to Chilliwack to cover a Future West Moto outdoor race a bunch of years back. It was built outdoors on the Chilliwack Heritage Park grounds. Jake was racing a 65 at the time.

There was a big double out of a corner that landed right before a right-hand corner. It was a spot that I stood because it was cool to watch Spencer Knowles (a Pro) hit it each lap. I didn’t see anyone else doing it. Until the 65’s came out…

Jake was out front by close to a minute but that didn’t stop him from absolutely sending this jump every lap. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

He’s always been a rider who only knows one speed…the throttle stop. It never mattered how far out front he was, he wasn’t backing off a bit. He’s got that thing that trainers will all agree you just can’t teach, and it’s a blast to watch.

Unfortunately, living on the knife’s edge can come with consequences and Jake had a tough season in 2022 that saw him relinquishing his #1 250 plate to arch rival Ryder McNabb. To add to this, the two riders have traded teams moving forward, although Jake doesn’t say that’s any added motivation, but it has to be.

Here’s a look at Jake’s 2022 MX season:

As you can see, it ends sooner than it should have. He had a practice crash during the week that probably led to the crash at Sand Del Lee that ended his season. Of course, I asked him about that in our conversation. Here’s what he had to say when we spoke this week:

Here’s what Jake had to say this week. | Bigwave photo

Direct Motocross: Hello, Jake. We haven’t even spoken to you since you made the move over to the Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing team! But let’s first talk about the 2022 season for a second. You came out swinging and took the first moto of the season. Were you feeling confident coming into the season as the defending 250 champ?

Jake Piccolo: Hi, Billy. Yes absolutely, I felt good coming in. I had a solid off season and I felt like I could be up there again.

Would you say you were as prepared as you’ve ever been?

Yes, I definitely was. From Club MX to hanging out in Quebec for a bit before the season started, I was feeling good.

You were right in the mix until the problem at Sand Del Lee. Can you take us through what happened? You showed me your hand and I was pretty sure it was broken…

I came into Sand Del Lee banged and bruised from a practice crash at SMX the previous week. I went down hard in a section and hurt my hand and leg. Everything hurt but it was manageable.  Race day was going decent until the second moto when coming into the corner past the mechanics area I got kicked really bad. I guess not being able to hold on as good with my legs and hand sent me down again. That one was a hard crash also. I don’t think the cameras caught it but my dad said it was gnarly. I got up and finished on pure adrenaline, but shortly after I knew my hand was worse.

How tough was it for you as the #1 rider to sit out the rest of the season? What did you do?

That was tough. The biggest thing was letting KTM down. I wanted to show them I could do it again. Not much could be done at that point, so we went home to look after my hand. I still didn’t know if I needed surgery or what was going on. It was difficult getting anything done medically while we were out east. Staff shortages and huge weight times and no family doctor. It was rough. The most important thing was to heal properly, so we went home to do that.

Jake has always been a kid who could turn anything into a race! | Bigwave 2013 photo

And at what point did you start thinking about changing teams? How did the ride at Gopher Dunes come about?

I wasn’t thinking about it at all until we got a call from Derek (Schuster). Actually, I was making plans with KTM to come out and start testing the new bike in the fall. Derek and my dad started talking a bit and it just kinda evolved from there.

Does swapping teams with 2022 champion Ryder McNabb give you added motivation for the upcoming season?

I don’t think so. The motivation comes from just wanting to do well every time I’m on the track. Probably a boring answer, but that’s it.

And you’re at Club MX training again. I also see you’re riding some Supercross. Word on the street has you lining up in Daytona. What’s the plan for SX this season?

Yes, I’m down at Club again. I want to do some rounds but we’re playing it by ear to see when I’m ready.

Jake has been riding some Supercross at Club MX, so we’ll likely see him on the line sooner than later. | Bigwave photo

Do you think being around people like Derek Schuster and Colton Facciotti will be the influence you need to regain the title?

That’s why we switched. Being able to be around Derek,Colton, Newf (Ryan Lockhart) and back on Joe’s (Joe Skidd from SSS) )suspension is huge! If you get that chance you don’t pass it up. My program will be better because of it, and we’ll be coming for that #1 plate.

Will you head for some divisional 250 Supercross full-time in 2024?

I’d definitely like to but we’ll see how it goes this season. Priority is the GDR Fox Honda Team and coming into outdoors ready.

Are you into the off-bike trading stuff? What’s your preferred activity? Road or MTB cycling?

I’m really into MTB. It’s awesome for training as well. 

Are you hoping to be picked to race for Team Canada at the MXON in France this year? How important is that race to you as a rider?

Yes, that would be great! That’s a cool one for sure and last year was really fun. Carl (Bastedo) did a great job with it. I’m excited to see how Kourtney (Lloyd) will keep building the program. It’s pretty exciting to be a part of that race.

With these 3 plus Josiah Natzke returning for 2023, the 250 class is going to be a barn-burner! | Bigwave photo

Who are you banging bars with down there at Club? How are your SX times compared to the team guys?

There’s a ton of guys down here in the SX program. The Phoenix Honda Team, some fast amateurs and of course the Club guys. The SX tracks at Club are no joke. The dirt makes them gnarly and I’m just trying to be smart with it and learn. Consistent laps is the goal. And ya, the Club guys are fast! Ha Ha

OK, thanks for taking some time with us today. Good luck with your prep and we’ll see you soon. Who do you want to thank?

Thank you! I’d like to thank KTM Canada for the opportunity last season, really a top notch team. Everybody there was awesome. Also, big thanks to GDR, Honda Canada, Fox Racing, Proven moto, SSS, Easy Kleen, Renthal, Atlas Brace, Trek bikes, Motul, Pro Circuit, Dunlop, Hinson , Matrix, Lime Nine, Motoseat, VP, Xtrig, Snap-On.

Anaheim 2 Supercross

We’re in Anaheim for another round at Angel’s Stadium for A2. We’re calling this “Round 4” to keep it all in sync when we do the Oakland make-up race. It’s a Triple Crown format, so not a favourite of the privateers. You need to be in the top 18 top make the night show, as opposed to the top 40 on a regular round. If you aren’t in the top 18, you go to the LCQ where the top 4 will head to the 3 Mains. It’s a stressful night.

It’s also Round 1 of the Supercross Futures, which means we’ll get our first look at #238 Haiden Deagan on an indoor track. I got to watch a few of the other top amateur riders at the practice tracks this week, but I think we’ll see Haiden running lap times that would see him fighting for podiums in the Pro class on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the schedule:

Here’s a look at the points:

I guess it’s just because we just saw it happen in Canada last season, but can you imagine if Jett Lawrence and Eli Tomac run the table?! I could see Jett doing it in 250 West but look out for Cooper Webb in the 450 class. With him being on pace this early in the season, we’re one pass on Eli away from seeing the old, champion Cooper, I’d say.

Cole Thompson sits 10th in 250 West points. | Bigwave photo

Canadian Cole Thompson is getting up to pace on his Team Solitaire Heartbeat Hot Sauce Yamaha 250. He’s got the pace to be battling for a top 5 finish but he’ll need to qualify better than 20th to get a better gate pick. Although, he said in our interview that it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d had first gate pick, so we’ll have to see what he can do this week.

#500 Julien Benek was quickest in 250 Group C in San Diego but then had that scary crash in the LCQ. He’s sore but OK. | Bigwave photo

#500 Julien Benek felt the high of having his name on top of the qualifying chart when he set fastest time in the 250 C group in San Diego. He’ll be up with the B group this week, so hopefully he can learn a few things and get himself a little further. But it’s going to be a tall order with this Triple Crown format. Actually, Cole only qualified 20th at the first 2 rounds, so he’ll have to buckle down early, too.

#518 Parker Eales missed the night show in San Diego but is learning a ton in his rookie (doing more than 1) SX season. | Bigwave photo

#518 Parker Eales will head into his final round of racing this week at A2. He’s been putting in the time at the practice tracks and gaining confidence along the way. He’ll use this round as some more practice (due to the format) and then, hopefully, make a return to the series when it hits Seattle. It’s been fun hanging out with Parker, Kyle Springman, and Kevin Urqhart at the practice tracks and at the races.

We’re having our first real Media Day here in Anaheim today, so it will be more like a normal round where we get to see some riders on the track on the Friday before the event. I’ll be sure to grab some coverage to show you what the track looks like. I’m curious to see how the Futures riders end up during their Free Practice today, too.

*OK, posting this Update is late because Media Day riding just finished. I’ll be sure to get some photos and video up ASAP.

Have a great week, and I’ll see you back in the Great White North.

Let’s let the Piccolo Parents say it this week: See you at the races... | Bigwave photo