Thor Racing Presents MXP Chatter With Jess Pettis

We all know what kind of amazing season Jess Pettis had in 2018. Multiple race wins, one outdoor and one indoor title, Pettis has definitely solidified himself as the top 250 rider in Canada. Fast forward to present day, Pettis has made the move to the Red Bull Thor KTM Team and is currently realizing his dream of competing in the Monster Energy Supercross Series. In fact, last weekend at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, he rode brilliantly to finish tenth in the 250SX main event. This weekend the series travels to Glendale, AZ where the riders will face a much drier and more technical track. We caught up with Jess as he was preparing to travel across I-10 to Arizona and Round 2 of the Monster Energy Supercross Series.

MXP: Hey Jess, it’s Palms calling. How are you?

JP: I’m good thanks! I didn’t’ know who was calling as your number came up and it said you were calling from Peru.

Well, thanks for answering it. I bet Peru is a lot warmer than Ontario so maybe I should be in Peru. Anyway, Round 1 is in the books and it’s time to think about Glendale. How has the riding been this week?

It’s been great this week. I was able to ride two days which was exactly what I needed to do, and now we’re just relaxing and getting ready to head to Phoenix to ride press day tomorrow.

With the stress and nerves from Anaheim 1 now gone, and also considering you got some pretty decent results there, did you feel any different riding this week?

No not really, the past few weeks I’ve been feeling really good on the bike and it’s just continued into this week. I feel like we’re getting the bike better each time I ride it so it’s all good. Heading into last year, I just tried to go into each race and just do my best and not really think about the results. Last weekend went about as planned and that was great, but this week was a new week and I’m just thinking about Round 2.

Pettis looked comfortable all day at the opening round. Photo by James Lissimore

That’s a great way to look at things and probably one of the reasons you were so successful last year. Throughout the day at Anaheim 1, between the track and the speed of your fellow riders, were both what you expected them to be?

Since I was in the B group for practice the track was pretty slick when I got out so it was hard to go fast and figure things out, but I think I was able to get comfortable pretty quickly and get a good lap time. The other riders were about what I expected so that part of it was fine. In my heat race I was able to get a great start and finish well and go straight to the main event. All day I wasn’t really nervous or anything, I just focused on my own riding.

Do you think it will be different this weekend with expectations built up a little?

Yes and no! I’d like to finish in the Top 10 at all of these races and I hope I can. However, having said that, I’m racing against some really fast riders and there is no room for error. I might have a bad race or two and not finish where I want to, but that’s racing.

Those main events looked tough on the weekend. You got off to a decent start and had a good battle going with McAdoo and it appeared like your best laps were at the end of the race.

It’s funny, but honestly, I didn’t think that I rode that great all night long. In my heat I got a great start but then I don’t think I took one breath the entire race. Being out front on that big stage definitely got my attention and I was just going for it. Then in the main event I just had trouble getting going. With the rain and muddy conditions, our pit board marker didn’t work so I really had no idea what place I was in. For the entire race I thought I was in 16th or 17th. Even when I came off my mechanic was excited about my race, and when he told me that I got tenth, I was really surprised. I felt like McAdoo was holding me up so when I finally got by him I was able to catch Chris Blose, but it was too late to make a pass.

All night long Pettis had some great battles going with the other riders in the 250SX class. Photo by James Lissimore

Yes, it looked like you were faster than Blose, and then Hayes and even Decotis were that far ahead. In reality, your tenth perhaps could’ve been an 8th or even a 7th. So, you’re right there.

Yeah, I feel like with a little more experience I can hopefully get close to a Top 5 finish.

It sounds as though you’re right on track Jess and you deserve a ton of credit. It’s not easy transitioning to not just a new bike but also new gear, a new mechanic, just about everything is new.

You’re definitely right, a lot has changed with my program for 2019, but honestly, it’s all been good and I’ve been happy with everything. Going from a Yamaha to a KTM is pretty much the biggest change you can make as the bikes feel completely different. And without a lot of time to prepare for Anaheim 1 I was a little stressed, but the transition has been smooth and now the KTM just feels like my bike.

What is your favourite thing about the KTM 250SX-F?

Good question! You know it’s hard to pinpoint one item or part on the bike. The hydraulic clutch is great, the bike feels light and corners really well. I don’t know, I really like the entire package and it seems to suit my riding really well.

Well, you look good on the KTM and hopefully you’ll keep finding success on it. Let’s get away from racing for a second and talk about California and a few of your favourite things there. Where is your favourite place to eat lunch?

That’s easy, Chipotle, for sure.

Favourite place to eat dinner?

I don’t know, we really don’t go for dinner here, we just cook at home. If we did though we’d probably just go to Chipotle.

What is your favourite track to ride during the week?

For supercross I’m limited to a couple of tracks so I’d say Milestones or Pala. For outdoors, I think I like Pala the best or Fox Raceway as it’s called now. I did get to ride the TLD SX track but it wasn’t in the best of shape when I rode it. Hopefully if I can get some more good results then I might get some access to a few more tracks.

With his 2019 season underway, there’s no looking back for Jess Pettis. Photo by James Lissimore

Okay, final question: What is your favourite thing to do on a day off.

If the weather is nice then we’ll go to the beach and hang out, maybe go to San Diego as it’s not far, or we might just hang out and do nothing. We’ve also gone fishing a few times which I love doing. Fishing kind of reminds me of back home, and it’s nice to get away from the busy California life, just sit out on the water and wait for some fish to bite.

That’s great Jess, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. The track this weekend in Glendale looks great so you should have a ton of fun.

That’s the plan! Thanks for calling and we’ll see you next weekend at A2 Palms.