In Part One of our interview with immensely talented Brazilian star Enzo Lopes, he shares his thoughts on his terrific A1, his podium aspirations, how much he enjoys working with the team and how grateful he is for the support from all his fans.
Words: Edward Stratmann | Lead Image: Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX
Edward Stratmann: How was your excellent start to the season at A1 from your perspective? You did extremely well getting that P1 early in qualifying like you did at Salt Lake. You must be happy with it?
Enzo Lopes: It was great for me. It’s funny because before the day even started our team manager said to pick up where we left off as in Salt Lake I was P1 and then I went to first qualifying and ended up P1. It sounds so funny because no one really talked about me coming into the race, but I know how I felt riding during the week with Jerma, Phil and all the boys, we have a big group here at ClubMX, so I felt good coming in. It was a good day overall.
I led the heat race. I’ve never been in that position before, and I rode there with McAdoo for a little bit and got second, which was pretty good. Then in the main I got a good start, but then Hampshire hit me and I was like 12th on the first lap and I made a lot of mistakes for the first five five laps and then ended up sixth. I was pretty close to fourth place, but it was still really good for me, but I feel like if I get a better start, things can be even better.
ES: It was certainly an impressive effort. Did you find the track extremely difficult, like everyone said, or did you find your skills helped you adapt to it quite well?
EL: It was kind of gnarly, but I feel like my skills helped me. By the time that the main event came, it was pretty crazy like the bumps and the ruts and the edges were massive man. But it was good. I mean, I came out alive.
ES: A lot of guys were saying they were happy just to get through unscathed. In terms of injuries, how are you feeling personally? You had carpal tunnel surgery in the offseason? Are you able to ride without much pain or are you still suffering a little bit?
EL: So the thing is, I got shoulder surgery back in 2020. And ever since then I’ve been struggling with a lot of strength problems in my right arm. I just had no strength at all. And it wasn’t arm pump. I couldn’t figure it out for like two years. I was searching to find out the problem, because ever since I did shoulder surgery, I started having issues. I went to the best doctors in Brazil here and there. And it came out to be something super simple, you know, but it took me so much time to figure it out, almost the whole season.
For example, last year, five minutes in, I wouldn’t be able to hold on to the bike, you know. I would be super good in practices and stuff. And then by the time the main event came, I wasn’t the same guy. I always had the speed, but I just couldn’t put it together. But then I got the surgery, I got back on a bike and three weeks later my confidence just helped me so much, you know, I’m going to be able to ride for 15 plus one. I always knew I had the speed so it was just a matter of time, but I feel super good. I’m just super happy to be riding like pain free with no issues at all.
ES: Considering all this, last year was very impressive, as you obviously got fifth in the championship despite the aforementioned issues. You must be feeling super good this year. Your aims would be to get that podium and keep being a top five guy I’d imagine?
EL: It’s funny as before A1 started, I was looking at the list and thought “wow, this is competitive. But then it’s basically the same guys that raced East coast last year”? Basically exactly the same so that’s good. Last year, I mean, I had a podium in me at Daytona, but unfortunately we had some issues. But my goal this year is to be on the podium, because I know I have the speed and what it takes. So I just need to put it together. I also want to be top three in the championship. Last year I came close to that so I think it’s pretty achievable.
ES: You’ve certainly got the speed and the skills, you’re feeling healthy and you feel like you belong with those top runners. Is everything going well with the bike too? Do you feel the bike is giving you a bit of extra performance as well?
EL: Oh, yeah, the bike was already really good last year, and we made some improvements to it this year, especially with my suspension. It’s been really good. And for me, I’m not really like a big test guy. I just kind of let the team guide me in one direction. I just go and ride because growing up in Brazil, I never had much. So for me, whatever the team gives me I’m just going to send it and ride. In a way it’s good, because I always put the blame on myself and not the bike. But the bike has been phenomenal. We figured out my starts, which were terrible last year. And even though my start was bad at A1, it was because someone hit me. But in my heat race, I got the holeshot so it was good.
The bike is really, really good. The body feels great. I just want the feeling of getting on the podium, you know, like in Daytona when I was in third place, like for 11 minutes. I just want that feeling again, you know, and then to get the chequered flag. It’s been my dream ever since I was a little kid in Brazil growing up.
ES: You must be very motivated to do that. How much does it help training with the guys like Phil, Jeremy and Marchbanks? Does that help you get a bit extra out of yourself? Obviously you have a lot of laughs too, especially with Phil, it looks like a great environment at the team.
EL: Yeah, it’s a good environment here. It’s fun to be around Phil and Jerma. I didn’t know Jeremy before, but he’s a super cool dude. And to ride with them, we are always pushing each other. Actually last week after A1, I felt like I didn’t want to push too much because I was kind of tired. But then Jeremy was riding and then he’s pushing and trying to go faster than me and you’re like “are you kidding me”? And then you got to push yourself, you know. It was a really good day. But yeah, we’re just always pushing each other out on the track and then afterwards we’re laughing so it’s always good times.
ES: Yeah, it looks like you guys are having a blast. Are there any specific things you’ve learned from them?
EL: That’s actually funny as well because Phil and Jeremy their lifestyle is basically the same, they’re like workaholics. They like to work, work, work. Whereas my perspective, my lifestyle is a little bit different. I take a more laid-back approach, you know, more chilled. I like to go back home to Brazil and hang out. I mean, I still train hard, don’t get me wrong. Like you can see I have the speed and the fitness. But it’s just a different approach, you know?
I’ve learned from Jeremy’s work ethic and to take things more seriously. I mean, even though I do take things seriously, it’s just the way he does that. And with Phil too even though we’re joking all the time, it’s the mentality. He said to me this year “you got to kill or be killed” so I learned that from Phil.
ES: Listening to some interviews with Phil, and he’s always saying he pushes you so hard because he wants you to basically fulfil your potential as you’re so talented. That’s cool to have teammates that genuinely care and want you to succeed.
EL: Yeah for sure and I try to give him my perspective too because I feel like it would benefit them sometimes to be more relaxed and not take things so seriously all the time. Especially Phil cause, man, that guy’s grumpy. But he’s a softy on the inside (laughs).
ES: How was your Nations experience? How was representing your country again? Obviously, it didn’t go as planned with the bike and you probably weren’t feeling great physically, but it must still always be an honour I’d imagine?
EL: Oh, yeah, it’s always an honour for me to represent Brazil and then race this Nations. I think it has a different glamour to the race, to represent your nation and then to do it at RedBud, it was awesome. Unfortunately, we had that bike issue that was out of our control. And then I was still dealing with a little bit of my arm issue at the time because it was before I had surgery. But still, I think I qualified in seventh. My times were actually really good. And I never got to do a qualifying race or whatever, but it was a good opportunity. Hopefully this year I can do it again because I would like to represent Brazil again and feel the support from all the Brazilian fans. For me, it’s always good to kind of give back, you know.
ES: You’re obviously super popular back home, and it’s good that you interact heaps with your fans, they must be a big motivation for you?
EL: Yeah, it’s like in a way, I think they kind of also see their dreams through me, as a Brazilian has never been on the podium in America. I’m grateful they support me so much. Yeah, the comments on my pictures and all the tags on Instagram are crazy. When I went P1, and then if you look at supercross posts, there’s like 2500 comments on one video. And then I post a picture, there’s like 800 comments with Brazilian flags. So the support is just crazy and it’s almost overwhelming to be honest. You know, it’s just really, really cool for me. I’ve always dreamed of being in this position, like to represent my country. I’m super grateful.
Stay tuned for Part Two, which will be released soon.