Unfortunately the racing landscape has changed quite a bit since the economy dove off a cliff. Money is hard to find, and race teams are folding under the stress of keeping the lights on. It’s a sad day in Mudville every time a race operation goes belly up. Just this year Jeff Ward Racing, Chaparral Honda, Velocity Yamaha and JDR KTM have called it quits, and more teams are on the verge of going under. The only way to survive is to adapt to the new financial climate. Many race teams are discovering that they must offer more value, along with results, to persuade sponsors to open their checkbooks. Attracting support in a sport rattled by economic distress requires creative marketing and a comprehensive package that guarantees exposure. Allan Brown, owner of the N-Fab/TiLube Yamaha race team, has proven that he can adapt to a weak economy. He has survived in the industry a long time, working in public relations and as a mechanic, team manager and owner. The Canadian has earned the respect and admiration of the motocross community by taking riders such as Tim Ferry, Larry Ward, Ryan Sipes, Kyle Lewis, Nick Wey, Kyle Cunningham and Jessica Patterson under his wing and offering them rides when things were tough. This year, Allan Brown employs Chris Blose, Phil Nicoletti, Gareth Swanepoel, Jessica Patterson and Bobby Kiniry. It should be noted that Kiniry was a mid- season addition after his former team, Velocity Yamaha, closed their doors. The MXA wrecking crew likes Allan Brown. He’s nice, friendly yet frank, and very hospitable. We respect him for those attributes and for his commitment to continue racing despite hardships. We wanted to show our appreciation and help Allan (while also helping ourselves), so we decided to test Phil Nicoletti’s N-Fab/TiLube Yamaha YZ450F. Phil Nicoletti hails from the great state of New York. Joining the Pro ranks in 2008, Phil spent much of his career as a privateer. Unfortunately, the talented rider turned Pro at an inopportune time. Had he made his debut a few years earlier, when teams were flush with cash, he would have found his way onto a high-profile race team. How can we be so sure? Nicoletti proved him- self last year when he finished in the top five in several 250 East Supercross races and then moved up to the 450 class halfway through the Nationals and landed inside the top 10. When asked why Nicoletti was added to the N-Fab/TiLube Yamaha roster, Allan Brown had this to say: “Phil has always been really fast. He just turned 24, and he has experience. I thought he was ready to step up to the 450 full-time this year. As a team owner, I’m always looking for a mature rider. We have a smaller team, so we don’t have the staff to take care of less- experienced riders. We want a consistent rider who has potential for growth and is marketable. The rider needs to understand that business also needs to be taken care of off the motorcycle.” The two parties are a good fit. Nicoletti found his footing in Supercross, ending the series strong and in 18th place in the 450 point standings. Since he is better known for his outdoor riding, however, the MXA wrecking crew chose to test his National bike. Read on to find out what we learned. NICOLETTI’S YZ450F
We quickly learned that Phil Nicoletti sets up
his YZ450F for aggressive cornering. The
geometry is tightened up, the engine has been
relocated, the steering stem is loose, and the
radiators are lowered. The MXA test riders had
to keep up their momentum and trust the front
end if they wanted to log fast lap times.