After a respectable, but unfulfilled early Supercross season as a Lites rider and the absence of Austin Stroupe, the Star/Valli/Rockstar/Yamaha team made the decision the boost Nico Izzi into the 450 class. Izzi delivered remarkable results from the get-go and one more than one occasion was the fastest 450 rider in timed practice during the final Supercross rounds. He has carried the momentum into the Nationals aboard the bigger bike and has sparked his career again.
You were bumped up to the 450 after the break in the Lites season, and you are a smaller guy but you ride the bike very well. Has this been a surprise to you at all?
It has a little bit. I always knew I could ride a 450 pretty well, and the Yamaha is a little more difficult because of the power and the weight. But I have surprised myself. Coming into the season, I worked really hard and it is starting to pay off. In Supercross it was hard for people to see the work, and the results were kind of there, but I was struggling with starts, and to do good in Supercross you can’t struggle with starts. But now we are outdoors, and you can come back in the 30 minutes, unless you go down really hard. Even if I washout in the first lap, I seem to charge my way through the pack and I am strong enough for that. It is a good feeling to put in your work, know you feel good, and have fun at the races. Before it was stressful when you are not prepared and people expect big things out of you. I am having a blast and it is awesome.
How much did you have to change your training program?
I have always known what I needed to do to win, because I have ridden dirt bikes since I was three or four years old. Yeah, I am not winning now, but I am slowly taking steps into the top five, and am always in the top-10. I just had to basically get some things in figured out in my personal life. The average fan or anybody at the race doesn’t really know how much your personal life affects your job. I had some things that I had to get worked out, and matured a little bit, and now I am having a blast.
What has been the high point to your season so far?
Thunder Valley was good, with my fourth overall. That was definitely a highlight for me. If I can get a good start, I can stay up there, but it is tough to get into the top five when you get a 10th place start. You are not just going to blow by Metcalfe and Tickle, who are strong guys unless you are Stewart. I just want to be there every weekend, because I know that will only making me stronger.
Will you be staying back East for any time?
Yeah, I will be staying in Georgia after Budds Creek to train with my Dad. I have a great track back there, 80 acres with a sick outdoor track and Supercross track. It’ll be nice top train in the heat and humidity and get out of California.
How hard was it to overcome busting your face at Salt Lake City? Did that affect you in the first round?
I messed up the cartilage inside, so it feels like it has been clogged the whole time. It is really hard to breathe out of and it screws with your riding when you can’t breathe in or out of your nose. It was pretty painful to be honest with you, because I have never hit my face that hard. But it’s a good thing I kept all my teeth and was able to move on from that.
You were one of the highest touted amateur riders ever, but have had setbacks in the last few years after your ankle injury. How important is it to you that you are doing this well now?
If you look back on my seasons since I got hurt, my 2012 season was horrible, my 2011 season was horrible, and now we are here. It is great, because this is my life. It’s my job and what I grew up doing, so to be doing good and climbing my way back to where I need to be, there is not a better feeling. This is what I wanted and I am very thankful to have the good Lord on my side, watching over me, keeping me safe, and letting me do what I love.