By Jean DePlacido
---- — Jimmy Decotis has never shied away from a challenge. The 21-year old motorcycle racer from Peabody was thrilled when Kawasaki called to offer him a contract to join the CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit team.
Decotis flew to the Netherlands last week to begin testing his new 250F Kawasaki green No. 613 bike that he hopes to put on the podium soon. He didn’t have any time to waste dialing in the bike he is riding in the FIM Motocross World Championship Grand Prix series. It is the big break the privateer has been waiting for. He will complete the rest of the 2013 season for Kawasaki Monster Energy, and depending on how things go has an opportunity to remain on the team next year.
Kawasaki needed a new rider after Arnaud Tonus suffered a serious injury that will keep him out of racing until his injuries heal. Mitch Payton of Pro Circuit and Mitch Covington of Monster Energy put Kawasaki team owner Jean-Jacques Luisetti in touch with the up and coming young American.
“Our contract with James is for the remainder of the 2013 GP season, and when Arnaud is ready to return to racing we will enter three riders in the series together with Alessandro Lupino. If all goes to expectations James will have the opportunity to stay with CLS in 2014,” said team owner Luisetti at the signing.
Decotis had been consistently recording top 10 finishes as one of the best young privateers on supercross and motocross circuits in the United States. He recently had three top 10 finishes, going up against factory sponsored riders in the AMA Monster Energy Supercross Series.
Kawasaki was looking for a bright young star, and Decotis is delighted to join the team even though the European courses are very demanding. Instead of the two 15 minutes plus two lap Supercross races he had been competing in, the GP requires going full throttle for 35 minutes plus two laps which takes its toll on the body trying to negotiate the ruts and jumps on the dirt tracks at top speed.
“The whole thing happened very quickly,” said Carl Decotis, Jimmy’s father, who has seven other children. “He’s been riding since he was three years old, and racing since age five. Every Sunday until he was about 16 we’d go to Southwick, Middleborough, or Maine. We’d do the whole circuit, and there was a race every weekend.
“I was a football player, but I fell in love with motocross. I have a big van, and I’d take Jimmy and his two brothers. We raced together and we all loved it. It’s a great family sport. I bought a house in Florida near the Daytona track. There are four or five practice tracks around within an hour of the house so we’d go there for the winter.”
Carl Decotis said the family knew Jimmy had the talent to go far from the time he was a youngster. His stepmother Carlotta is also very proud of him and his accomplishments. He was signed by the Geico Honda team two years ago, but broke his elbow in practice. After returning in time for the outdoor season he suffered fractures in his feet while testing a bike and then tore his ACL a year ago.
It took a while to get back in racing shape and regain the intensity that has always made him a fierce competitor. Decotis had every intention of finishing the last three rounds of Supercross, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take on the top Europeans on the professional circuit.
This is his first time racing in Europe, and the 5-foot-5, 140 pounder is one of only a handful of Americans on the circuit. His only previous GP experience came at Glen Helen in Southern California a couple of years ago.
“He’s small, but he’s all muscle with a lot of strength which you need in motocross,” said Carl Decotis. “We knew he was special. Unfortunately, a lot of factories pick up riders depending on how they do in the Amateur Nationals at the Meadowlands every year. Jimmy didn’t do that well there because he didn’t like the track.
“He got picked up by Honda, but then he got hurt. He’s just starting to get back to where he was before the injuries. I think he has been among the top 10 finishers in every Supercross race.”
Kawasaki got an apartment for Decotis near the team’s shop. He had to adjust to the six-hour time difference as well as the new courses. And he had to jump in with no period of adjustment because five days after he arrived he got his first taste of action.
He qualified 13th in Moto 2 in Trentino, Italy, but things didn’t go his way the rest of the weekend. He was bumped from behind on the opening lap of Moto 1 and after two crashes in the second race he had to withdraw because of cramps in his forearm.
“I knew that it wouldn’t be easy coming here last week and racing for the first time on a European track,” Decotis said at the press conference. “I had a good start in the first moto, but crashed in the first lap when someone ran into me from behind. It was a tough race after that. In the second race I was in the top 15, but got cramps and struggled. I hate to retire but that could be dangerous on this track. I know the Bulgaria track will be different, and we’ll have a week to work and prepare for it with the team.”
The next stop is Round 5 at Sevilievo in Bulgaria on Sunday and then in Portugal on May 5. The schedule calls for a race in a different country every week or occasionally two weeks, and the season ends in September.
“He’ll be racing in Brazil (May 19) and Mexico (May 26),” his father said. “I think that will be a nice time to go see him.”