Five years after earning an Outdoor National title aboard a Pro Circuit Kawasaki 250, Ivan Tedesco finds himself back aboard the team’s fire breathing small bore bike. Tedesco 2012 was nearly considered a wash after an injured finger halted his progress, but with the blessing of his team owner and manager, he took the opportunity extended by former boss Mitch Payton. With two rounds of the 12 race summer series finished, Tedesco has shown the speed necessary to be considered a front runner and is currently ninth in the overall standings.
Your deal of dropping down to the Lites bike had been rumored for a few weeks, but nothing was ever set in stone. When we saw you at Comp Edge a few weeks back, you were on the bike but in Shift gear. How long did it take until it was official?
I rode the bike that week and was kind of shaking it down to see if it was something that made sense and if I could even ride it good anymore. I felt pretty good on it the first day so we went with it. It took me a few days to get the gear and all the stuff, but I had ridden the bike six or seven times before Hangtown. I have been hitting it hard and riding as much as I can to get comfortable.
How has it been to switch? Have you had to change your riding style at all?
I think it is completely different. The bike is different, racing all these kids is different, the intensity is different, the whole deal. I’ve gotten my feet wet and saw what these kids are capable of doing. They’ve got some speed and they are really fast, so I need to pick it up. Hopefully I find the speed and can battle with them.
How did you feel going into the first race?
I felt good, even though I didn’t know what to really expect. I was pretty anxious before the first moto because I didn’t know where I was going to be or where I was. I got a good start but rode tight in the beginning of that moto, and a few guys got by me, but I settled in a rode pretty good. My fitness isn’t quite where I want it to be, but knowing that made me knock it back in those motos. I’m just going to do the best I can in these first ones and get seat time, and then sooner or later I’ll be battling.
Did finishing as well as you did in the first round come as a surprise?
Yes and no. I know what I am capable of on a dirtbike, but I didn’t know what to expect. I knew my speed was decent and my fitness wasn’t quite there, so I had to get starts and stay out of trouble. That was my game plan and what I did, and it kind of worked out.
Like you mentioned, the style and the pace of the class is much different from when you raced in it five years ago…
Yeah, and the bikes are so much better and these kids, they are teaching us things. Us old guys have to learn the new tricks. I’m trying the best I can and it is going to be hard, but I have experience and that helps.
How important was it to stay racing over the summer?
I think it is really important. For me to race next year, this is something I feel like I have to do. For me to sit on the couch this summer, I’d be further behind the ball. And I want to come out swinging next year and be up front.
Was it good working between the two teams, because Mitch has a hand in Hart & Huntington?
It was a little weird at first. Obviously switching teams mid-season is a weird deal, but we worked it out with Carey (Hart), (Kenny) Watson and Mitch, and it is all good. Basically, I am just riding for Mitch over the summer, they are subbing me out from Hart & Huntington, and then after Elsinore I’ll go back.
How has your injury been to come back from? It seemed like it was a lengthy process for what it was.
It was probably one of the most frustrating injuries I have ever had. It was my finger and it took me a little over three months to heal up and get back on the bike. There was a point at two months where I couldn’t bend my finger and I started wondering if I would ever be able to ride again. It was frustrating times for me, but I’m glad I have it moving and am back on the bike.
Now that you have a few races done, what are your expectations for the year?
Kind of just the same thing: go every weekend, be in every moto, and try, get points in every moto, and build on it so I am there at the end of the season. That is the ultimate goal, to be in the hunt and have a shot at this thing.