Well, here we are at just over two weeks until the gate drops on the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross Series. As history has shown us, the opening few rounds are always exciting as the riders fight to find their place in the series. For 2022, the 250SX West class is going to be full of action as defending champion Justin Cooper goes up against talented riders like Jett Lawrence, Jalek Swoll, as well as our own SX hero Jess Pettis. For the second year in a row, Jess has spent his off-season training in Florida at the infamous Baker’s Factory and now he’s ready to go when the racing begins at Angel Stadium on January 8th. We caught up with Pettis for a quick chat as he was completing his training in Florida and getting ready to fly to California on Sunday.
MXP: Hey Jess, we know you’re busy with training as well as with Christmas so thank you for giving us some of your time. Overall, how have things been going in Florida?
JP: Hey Palms! Things are good, right now we’re just finishing up our training here in Florida and then everyone flies out to California this weekend.
You went through the Baker’s Factory training program last year so coming into this year you most certainly knew the demands of it. Maybe easier isn’t the correct word, but was it less stressful this time around for you?
I wasn’t as stressed coming in this year as I knew what to expect. Even driving into the front gate this year, I knew where to go and what to do. This year was better as I was able to hit the ground running with training and riding and not having to worry about all the extra stuff.
So how has the training gone for the past two months. Do you feel better now than you did last year at this time?
That’s a tough question because in some respects I feel a lot better than I did last year before the opening round. My fitness is better, my confidence is higher, and just my overall health is better. Last year I was battling a knee injury the entire time I was here and then we all remember what happened at the first race. So overall, I do feel better than I did last year at this time.
When we last spoke back in early November you told me that this fall when you made the switch back to the 250F from the 450 you felt amazing. Do you still feel the same way about your 250F?
That is another area where I feel better than last year. We made some great improvements this year with my 250F SX bike. The motor is better and more rider-friendly, and we also have a better suspension package. Everything is great and I think we’re ready to go!
A few weeks ago, you had a little setback when you tweaked your wrist and were forced to take some time off of riding. Can you talk a little about that?
I still don’t know what I did as I didn’t crash or anything. I was just jumping through a rhythm section and jammed my wrist a bit. At first, it didn’t feel like much but then it got worse as I kept riding. I had it looked at here and Aldon decided that it would be best to stay off the bike for a few weeks rather than try and keep riding and risk further injury. Thankfully, I was able to get back on the bike last week and now the wrist feels good.
Obviously, not riding isn’t the best way to prepare for the opening round. But I would guess that it’s situations like this when having someone like Aldon Baker is crucial?
For sure! He was great at quickly coming up with a Plan B and the extra things I could do off of the bike. Right now, I feel fitter than I have ever felt in my life. Even though I wasn’t riding I was still able to do the road bike rides and most of the gym work. Aldon came up with a great plan and now that I’m back on the bike I feel great!
That is great to hear Jess! The last time you raced the 250SX West Series you started with some consistent finishes just outside of the Top 10, but you quickly found a comfort level and got the ball rolling. Is that the game plan for Anaheim 1 and beyond?
I think so. I mean this year I’m in a much better spot than I was in 2019 with regards to my preparation and confidence. If I can go out in the first couple of rounds and battle for some Top 10 finishes and go from there, then I will be happy. The opening two rounds are always hectic and the main events are crazy. You need to stay out of trouble and ride smart. As I said, a couple of Top 10’s would be good to start the series off and build from there. I want to be inside the Top 5 at some point and I’ve worked really hard to make that happen. We just have to go and do it next month.
So, the plan is to fly to California on Sunday and then get settled in your rented house. From there, it will just be some more training and riding on some different California tracks?
Yes, that is the plan. It’s going to be good to get out on the west coast early and get used to the time change and the tracks. I’m going to miss Florida though, the weather has been great here and the forecast looks cold for California.
Are you going to be able to ride on the KTM test track or will you have to do the public track deal?
I think I will be able to, Aldon is trying to make that happen. Obviously, the KTM track will be busy with the Factory team wanting to ride as much as possible, but there is also the Husqvarna track as well as the GASGAS track. We’ll make something happen. Most of the public tracks are good also so it will be fun to go out there and ride some different tracks.
Well, it sounds as though you’re ready to go and I know I speak for all of Canada when I say good luck and we’ll all be cheering for you! I hear there are a few other Canadian riders that might be at A1 so it’s going to be great to have some hometown riders to cheer for. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Jess! Good luck in 2022!
Thanks, Palms! Yes, hopefully, there will be a few Canadian riders racing SX in 2022. All the best to you, your family, and everyone in Canada.