Photo by: Cycle Dump
These “Privateer Showcase” interviews presented by Race Tech Suspension at MotoXAddicts tell the stories of the guys in the trenches week in and week out trying to chase their dream of racing professional motocross and Supercross. While the riders at the front of the pack get the money, the T.V. time and the glory that goes with it, there’s a huge pack of guys just hoping to get a spot inside a factory semi. We tell their stories.
This week’s “Privateer Showcase” is 100% the surprise of the 450MX class for me so far during the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Lorenzo Locurcio didn’t show up at the races until round number three in Thunder Valley, and the very young second year pro immediately showed he would be battling for top tens on the 450 when he debuted on the TiLube-backed Honda with a 10-14 day for 12th overall. The ride was surprising, but what really surprised me was that it looked effortless.
The #44 did not immediately improve on his ’18 debut at High Point or Muddy Creek, but last weekend in the sand of Southwick, he was an animal. In moto one, he got off the gate way back in 17th, and we watched him moving forward like a man that expects to be inside the top ten, and by the end of the moto, he had passed factory riders like Phil Nicoletti, Weston Peick, Justin Bogle and Cooper Webb to finish a career-high 7th. In moto two, he got off the gate around 10th and backed up moto one with another 7th, solidifying that he is where he belongs.
After Lorenzo’s very surprising 7-7 for 7th overall at Southwick, we decided to track him down for an interview so we could get to know the man originally from Venezuela a little better.
Lorenzo, thanks for doing this with us. Where are you based out of right now?
I’m in Clermont, Florida.
Oh, you’re in the motocross and Supercross mecca then. Which of the 20 training facilities out there do you ride at during the week?
I’m not riding at any of the facilities right now, just some private tracks. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Skytop or maybe Old Coyote’s; it’s called Central Florida now. I have a couple tracks I go to during the week.
After the way you rode at Southwick last week, I’m going to assume at least one of them is pretty sandy. (laughs) You seem to look pretty damn good in the sand last weekend.
Thank you. Yeah, the Central Florida one, that one is. That’s funny, though. I was hearing a podcast about Southwick and Jason Thomas was saying, “Oh, he rides sand every day, so that’s why he was good.” I honestly only ride that track once a week if I even ride it at all. It’s just funny. I think the most important thing is I have fun riding sand. Most people hate it, but I love it.
You’re originally from Venezuela. What was the moto scene like out there? When did you come to the US?
The funny part is, because I’m good at sand people ask me if it’s sandy where I’m from, and actually, no, it’s the other way around. Racing there is very small. Most of the tracks are hard packed and they only water them during races, so for practices everything is dry, hard packed and just bad. There’s no tillers or anything back home.
I’m just curious what the scene was like. Were there a few fast guys out there? You just don’t hear of fast guys in the GP’s or the US of Venezuelan descent.
There’s fast guys, but in reality the fastest guys are Anthony Rodriguez (A-Rod) and me. We were the fastest and I started coming here to do the amateur nationals like Winter Am’s here in Florida and also tried to qualify for Loretta’s and stuff like that. I did that from 2008 to 2010. I qualified the first year as an alternate, but I still made it. I got 39th and 41st in 85 (9-11). I made it to Loretta’s and never did good, but in September of 2011, I moved here full time to train at MTF [Millsaps Training Facility]. Then, in 2013, I got 5th in Schoolboy—my last year in Schoolboy—and from that time I sat down with myself and said, “Alright, I really want to do this.” I started getting serious and started picking my speed up. The next year I won the 450B Limited class and got 2nd in 450B Mod.
When you moved here from Venezuela, was it just you in a cabin at MTF, or did the family make the move with you?
My dad, lives back and forth ’cause he still works back at home, but my mom and my sister moved here with me. That was nice ’cause I have the support from them, and it wasn’t as hard as moving to a new country by myself.
It’s defintely not easy to leave your country to start over. Your English is amazing, though. You almost sound like you’re from North Carolina, not Venezuela. (laughs)
That’s what happens whenever you learn English in South Georgia. (laughs) I get that a lot.
You got signed by Cycle Trader / Yamaha coming into the pros. You’re not with them now, but how was your time with them?
It went good. I never had the opportunity to be on a team before that. I was privateering it all my life. My last year as an amateur I switched from Triangle Cycles to Rock River [Cycle Traders amateur program] and I raced my first race with them at Mini O’s. I introduced myself to Mike Duclos [Owner at Rock River] and started using their graphics. I did really well there in 2015, and luckily Christina Denny [CycleTrader team manager] was there. We started talking then and talked about putting together something for amateurs—nothing pro then—and I was through the moon excited. They put together an amateur deal and after Loretta’s they were like, “Yeah, we want to take you to the pros.” I did East Coast SX with them and outdoors with them. It wasn’t the greatest, but I was thankful they gave me the chance to go pro.
You had a decent rookie year—a 6th at Daytona—and while you weren’t a consistent top ten guy, you definitely showed some flashes of brilliance.
I had a lot of bad luck or rookie mistakes you could call it. At Daytona I got 6th, but I was 3rd for most of the race. The next weekend—I think it was Indy—I got taken out and hurt my back. I nursed all that in SX and then I crashed on the start in Jersey, and that was it for SX. In outdoors, I carried that back injury and it took me a while. I had flashes outdoors, but I never showcased my true raw speed.
Now in 2018 outdoors you’re a full on privateer and you make the move into the 450 class for outdoors. What went into the decision to bump up to the big bike?
Finances and to be competitive. That’s the two major keys. I still want to be on a 250F since it’s just my second year, but the 250 was almost impossible to do. Close to the top 15 in 250 class are all factory riders. To build a bike that is fast, reliable, able to make two thirty-minute motos, that’s hard. Takes a lot of money, effort and you won’t be close to those guys. I don’t know about other privateers, but my 450 is almost bone stock. It just has a Hinson clutch, a pipe and re-valved suspension.
That stock 450 is getting the job done. At Southwick you put it well into the top ten [7-7 for 7th] battling with and passing factory guys like Webb, Nicoletti and Peick and Bogle. That had to feel incredible!
It felt awesome! You kind of have an idea where you should be, but you never think you’re going to just pass factory riders that are making a lot of money. That actually shocked me in the first moto when I was coming through the pack and seen those guys. I was like, “Man, I really can pass them.” It took me a lap or two to say, “Alright, it’s time to go. Stop wasting time.” You grew up looking up to those guys and now I’m racing them, so I had to switch my mentality. Now they’re just another rider.
This was a huge step for you, but can you see yourself getting up into that top five?
The way I see it, nothing is impossible. I just proved that last weekend to myself. I never thought that I would be passing factory riders like I did. I work hard during the week and my goal coming into the season was to be top 10 consistently. Just to be 7-7 was surreal, ’cause I never thought I could. I’ve been enjoying riding lately, working really hard and I can see the progress. My goal too is to catch someone’s attention and possibly have a ride for next year.
We’re heading to RedBud this weekend which tends to be sandy too. Whether you raced the sand a lot growing up or not, you seem to be comfortable in it. Is RedBud a track you like?
I mean it’s RedBud; how can you not like it? (laughs) 4th of July week, all the fans are nuts, so how can you not like it? I don’t remember how I did last year, but it’s a great track and great layout. I’m looking forward to it.
Speaking of RedBud, any chance Venezuela fields a team for MXoN? With you and A-Rod alone you have a real shot at making the A Main.
The economy in Venezuela isn’t doing so good so the federation is struggling. We’re trying to put a deal together to race it, though. A-Rod is in Europe racing for Yamaha, so I’m sure they could provide a bike for him. I can drive my bike to the race and we just have to find a bike for the third rider. I want to race it. I know A-Rod wants to race it and I know Venezuela wants to race. It would be really cool to race it here in America.