A few years ago, Jimmy Decotis decided that a summer in Canada was exactly what he needed to further advance his racing program. Prior to Jimmy’s arrival in Canada, most American riders who had come up to race our series remained here for multiple years. Jimmy was not one of those riders as his great results with the Royal Distributing MX101 FXR Yamaha Team caught the eye one of the largest teams in the USA, the Geico Honda Team. Decotis headed back to the USA the following year and since then has logged some very good results in the Monster Energy Supercross Series. For 2019, Jimmy enters his second season with the JGR Yoshimura Factory Suzuki Racing Team and will be on the line this weekend at Anaheim 1. After a very serious back injury in 2018, Jimmy is now healthy, fit and ready take on the 250SX West class this weekend. We caught up with Decotis last week while visiting his team’s elaborate race shop.
MXP: Here we are Jimmy on the eve of yet another new season, one that I’m sure you’re beyond excited about. You’re healthy and fit, you have a newly designed RM-Z250 to race. You must be chopping at the bit for the 2019 season to begin?
JD: For sure, I cannot wait to get 2019 started. We’ve put so much work into the new bike, I’ve actually been testing it since August so it’s been a long process. The new RM-Z250 was pretty good when I first rode it, and obviously since then we’ve tried so many different combinations of set-ups before finding what I think is a great package. All of the 250 guys on our team are pretty much running the same set-up heading into 2019, so that is how you know that you’re on the right track.
MXP: I was lucky enough to travel to Japan back in September to ride that bike and I thought it was great. What do you like about the new RM-Z250 compared to the old version?
JD: Pretty much everything! I love the way the new bike is narrower, and with the seat/tank area flatter, it definitely makes it easier to move around. The new chassis is great so the bike handles much better and feels nimbler. It just feels like a new generation bike, and I think it’s great for us and great for the Suzuki brand. Now it’s up to us to get this new bike some results on the track.
MXP: Even in Canada where the race program at Suzuki has kind of been an afterthought for almost eight years now, this new bike has them excited. So, with the you and Chad Reed coming to the team, plus the RM Army Amateur program, Suzuki is definitely being aggressive, and like you said, now it’s time to go out and get results on the biggest stage of all.
JD: For sure, Suzuki is excited about 2019 and I hope we get these bikes onto the podium every weekend in both classes. I feel good and I know my 250SX teammates feel good. Justin and Chad are flying on their 450s, so now it’s just a matter of getting the season started and seeing where we’re at.
MXP: You’re coming off some mixed emotions in 2018. You had some great results, including a podium finish in Dallas, but you also suffered a serious back injury at Daytona. Right now, where are you mentally and physically?
JD: Yeah, it was definitely tough on me to go from the high of getting my first podium to breaking my back two weeks later. You fight and work so hard for something and then when you get it, you just want more. Then to have it all come crashing down two weeks later was very tough. However, I’ve always been a positive person and things could always be worse. I healed up great from my back and my off-season training has gone great. I’m happy to be back with the JGR Suzuki Team and I’m ready to go racing. I feel like I’m riding better than ever, and with this new bike I think we’re in a great spot.
MXP: A back injury can sometimes be just as hard mentally to recover from as it is physically. Was it hard to come back last summer and just jump right into racing the outdoor series?
JD: Without a doubt! This past summer was really difficult on me as I literally just jumped back into racing after being injured. Also, outdoor racing hasn’t always come as easy to me as supercross has so that made it even more difficult. But hey, life is hard and racing dirt bikes can be hard. You just have to deal with what comes your way and try to make the best of it. Those struggles last summer made me a stronger person mentally and a better rider as we head into 2019.
MXP: We’ve seen it for years in every sport that, yes, you obviously have to be physically fit, but any sustained success goes to the riders who are mentally strong as well. You’ve always been fit but how have you worked on the mental side?
JD: I think that you just get naturally stronger by going through difficult situations and not giving up. However, during this off-season I’ve also been working with a mental coach to help me a little more. This has helped me look at not just racing differently but also life in general. Just trying to worry about the things you can control. I know there isn’t a secret formula for success, but I think I’ve done all I can to make myself better.
MXP: You’re getting a little older now and you must be seeing that mental strength also comes with experience.
JD: Exactly, when you’re young you feel invincible and that nothing can hurt you. Then at some point you lose that feeling and you’re kind of in no man’s land; you’re searching for anything that will help you. But if you stick with it and get to the point that I’m at now, you have some experience and so many good things can come from experience.
MXP: I’ve always thought that as much as this sport produces very fast and talented teenage riders, you really don’t realize your true potential until you’re older and your mental and physical attributes come together.
JD: I would completely agree with that as that is exactly how I feel, and also I’ve seen it with so many other riders. Experience is something you can’t buy or attain overnight. You just have to put the time in, learn from your mistakes and keep pushing.
MXP: When you look back at the summer you spent in Canada, do you think it helped you become a better rider.
JD: Going to Canada and riding for Kevin Tyler and his team was the best thing I could’ve done at the time. I needed some experience racing at that level and Kevin’s program was perfect for me. The Canadian series is great and to be able to go up there, race on new tracks, learn how to race with different riders, experience the travel, just everything was really good. It was an amazing experience and it came at a perfect time in my career. In fact, since I’m only on a SX only contract with JGR at the moment I’d love to go back up to Canada this summer and compete in your series again.
MXP: That would be great if you could as you were one of the fan favourites. It’s been great talking to you and I know that you will be one of the riders that Canadian fans will be cheering for at Anaheim 1. Good luck and Happy New Year!
JD: Thanks Palms! I’m glad you could come by the shop and see what we do here. Here’s to a great year ahead.