Young Brazilian talent, Enzo Lopes is focusing his racing in America with the JGR Suzuki team which has been a big boost for him. Lopes had been a privateer his entire career before he got the opportunity from JGR and that’s really been helping him.
Despite picking up a collarbone injury meaning he had to miss a few rounds through injury he sits twentieth in the championship and has been knocking on the door for some top ten results at times.
Lopes has also been selected to represent Brazil at the Motocross Des Nations taking place at RedBud later in the year which will be his first time competing the event which is exciting.
We caught up with Lopes to discuss his season so far and a range of topics.
Gatedrop: Enzo, what age did you get a bike at and what was your first race?
Enzo Lopes: I started riding when I was 3 years old. My dad gave me a PW50, and it was love at first sight. I used to watch Supercross DVD’s everyday, for the whole day as a kid. Plus my dad was a racer, so I can say my life was all about motocross since a kid. Once you start racing motocross, it’s in the blood. I still love riding my dirt bike as much as I enjoyed back when I got my first bike. My first race I was 3 years old, and I could barely do a full lap at the track (laughs) my godfather ran behind me with a rope, because I didn’t know how to use the brakes, that was the best moment of my whole life – that 1 lap. It was where it all started.
Gatedrop: You’ve had some good results in the AMA Nationals this year, what would your highlight been of the season and are you happy with how it’s going?
Enzo Lopes: First of all I’d like to thank the whole JGR crew for believing in me, and giving me the opportunity to be a part of the team, and giving me a factory ride. I always dreamed of it since a kid and once I got the call from them, I’ve been on cloud 9.
I’d say my highlight this year was Thunder valley Moto 1, where I finished 12th, but really close to the top 10. That was the strongest I felt, as well as fastest. My start didn’t help at all, but I gave it my all, and I was happy with the outcome.
It’s been kind of an up and down season, plus I had to miss 3 races due my collarbone injury, but I’m learning every time I hit the track. It hasn’t been what I expected, but I’m willing to work to turn it around on this next 3 races!
Gatedrop: Do you prefer Motocross or Supercross and why?
Enzo Lopes: Well, it’s hard to tell because I never really had the opportunity to ride Supercross much. And on the other side, I’ve been riding motocross for my whole life.
But I’d say I prefer riding Supercross because I feel like it suits my style better, from what I felt riding last year before Monster Cup.
Gatedrop: With Suzuki pulling out of the World Championship and so on, it must be cool to show how competitive the Suzuki can be? Is it hard competing with the top factory bikes?
Enzo Lopes: I’ve been privateer my whole life, so once I got on the factory bike it was love at first sight (laughs). The bike is amazing and the work the guys over at JGR do to try to improve the bike everyday is incredible. Hats off for these guys, they put in a lot of hours so we can have the best bike every weekend.
Plus, Suzuki has the all new Rm-z 250 which changed a lot and from the testing we’ve already done, the bike gets better and better everyday.
Gatedrop: You’re from Brazil, what’s motocross like there and how does it compare to the AMA series?
Enzo Lopes: I raced in Brazil until end of 2015, that’s when I moved full time to America. I was a part of KTM Brazil team and the championship was good. There’s some fast guys there, like 3 or 4 on the lites class. In the MX1 class there’s a lot of good guys, some from Europe and stuff, which makes the class more stacked.
Most of the tracks are hard pack and not really well prepped, so it doesn’t create that many lines and everyone can go fast.
Gatedrop: You’ve been selected to represent Brazil at the Motocross Des Nations, you must be looking forward to RedBud?
Enzo Lopes: Yeah, I’m stoked! I always wanted to represent my nation, but I never felt I was ready enough to properly represent Brazil. But now, I’m at one of the best points I’ve ever been in my career, so I’m stoked I’ll be able to go race at Red Bud in October. The Nations is a complete different race, and I’m looking forward to it!
Gatedrop: Antonio Balbi will be the team manager; do you think that’s a good move?
Enzo Lopes: I think he has a lot of knowledge as he raced here in the U.S, as well as the nations, a lot of times. So I think it’ll be cool to have him as our team manager!
Gatedrop: Gustavo Pessoa has recently moved to the MX2 World Championship, do you follow that series and would you consider making the move to the World Championship in the future?
Enzo Lopes: Yeah, I follow the world championship series and it’s cool seeing guys like Prado winning as we raced together a lot as young kids at the world juniors championship! I really like how they travel every weekend around the world, and get to know different places. Plus, one weekend you race on hardpack like Loket and the following week you go to Lommel (laughs). Two completely different tracks, bike setup and stuff. So you gotta bring your A game every weekend in order to battle up front.
Since a kid my dream is to be a Supercross champ, and I really like racing here. But who knows.
Gatedrop: Have you got any plans for the 2019 season yet – do you know if you’ll stick around in America or not yet?
Enzo Lopes: I don’t really have any plans as of right now. I just want to focus one race at a time and give my best every weekend. Hopefully it’ll be enough to keep my American dream alive.
Gatedrop: What’s your plans/goals for the rest of the season?
Enzo Lopes: Like I said, one race at a time. I just want to go out there, have fun and give my best. I don’t care what place I get, as long as I leave the track knowing I gave 110%. Because I know if I give my best, the outcome will be great!
Gatedrop: Anyone you’d like to thank?
Enzo Lopes: I’d like to thank my family for supporting me throughout all my career, as well as the whole JGR crew for letting me be a part of the team. My trainer Maguila, as well as Brett Metcalfe, see you guys soon!
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Pics: John Basher – JGRMX