With three rounds down, and many more remaining, Team Makita Suzuki’s Ivan Tedesco has managed to stand out as one of the front-runners in the premier Supercross Class this season.
After turning some heads with his performances up north in Canada, Hot Sauce has stepped it up for the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross tour. In fact, last weekend at Anaheim 2 he led the opening laps of the main event, and battled with members of the “big three.” Not bad for a guy who is essentially in his rookie season in the Supercross Class.
In the days leading up to the fourth round of competition in San Francisco we decided to see what Sauce has been up to…
Are you happy with your season thus far?
Yeah, it has been going pretty decent. I made some mistakes at the first couple of races; I stalled my bike at Anaheim 1 and fell down at Phoenix, but at both races I was running up front so it wasn’t that discouraging. This past weekend at Anaheim 2 was pretty good though. I got up front and tried to run with those guys. Leading the race definitely helped my confidence out, too.
Right now, it seems like there are the top three guys, but then you are next in line, leading the next group of guys. What is it going to take to get you to that next plateau?
I don’t know. I am hopefully going to keep taking baby steps. Those guys are definitely faster than me right now, but I am training hard and practicing to try and get faster. Hopefully, before the end of the season I will be able to get up there and battle with those guys for the whole race.
Are you where you expected yourself to be, entering the Supercross Class?
I would say that I am sitting right where I thought I would be. I am in fourth in points, behind the top three guys. Of course I want to continue to improve and get faster, so I am not by any means settling for where I am right now. I continually want to improve myself.
How has it been adapting to racing the 450? Is it a lot different racing in the “big boy class?
It is. You are racing against the best guys in the world. I am racing against a lot of top guys and it is a longer series. I have had to change my training regimen. You have to be stronger to ride that big bike, and those extra five laps in a Supercross main are a big deal. It may not sound like it, but it is. I was a little unprepared at Canada and I struggled a bit with some arm pump, but I seems to have it all worked out now. I have changed my riding style quite a bit, too. You have to be more calculated with the 450, where as you would just ride the 250f wide open everywhere.
Talk about your RM-Z450 a little bit. How different is the bike you are racing from the one RC is on?
You know, we run pretty similar settings. I do a lot of the testing out here and they ship it out to Florida for him to try. Our motor settings are exactly the same, and our suspension is pretty close, too.
A common misconception is that the factory bikes are just fire-breathing monsters. How is the motor compared to a stocker?
To be honest I have never ridden a stock RM-Z450, but you can’t go and make the bike ridiculously fast. These things have so much power that just making then super fast would make them almost impossible to ride. Our bikes have a lot of power, but it is completely usable power. On a 250F you can make a bike as fast as you possibly can, but the big bikes need to be usable.
How has it been being teammates with RC?
He doesn’t spend a lot of time out here in California, but just being around him at the races has helped me. Of course, he will always help me when I ask him a question, but overall, it has been great being teammates with Ricky Carmichael.
This weekend at Anaheim 2, you had a great race. You took over the lead on the first lap and led for a while. What was going through your mind?
It was great! On the starting line I was sitting there telling myself that I needed to get the holhot so I could get up front with those guys. Well, I didn’t exactly get the holeshot, but I passed Vuillemin right away and got into the lead a few corners in. I made a few mistakes up front at first because I was so excited, Once I calmed in, I smoothed out and just wanted to see how long I could stay in front of those guys. I think I did a pretty good job of it.
Though you are new to the Supercross Class, you are still a seasoned racer. Does a guy like you still get nervous leading a race like that, knowing that RC and the rest are behind you?
I wouldn’t say nervous, but it is still nerve-wracking being the new guy in the class and knowing that the fastest guys are behind you. It was definitely good for me though. The only way to learn how to lead is to get up there and do it. It did a lot for my confidence though, and I can tell you that I will know what to do next time I get up there.
You had a great battle with Chad Reed, passing him back a couple times…
Yeah, we had a battle going for a couple of laps. He was going faster than me but I was doing what I could to race with him. We’re all racing in the same race for the same points, so I was just trying my hardest. If I don’t try to throw it in with those guys, how am I gonna learn?
Word we hear is that Chad had some unpleasant things to say to you afterwards…
(Laughs) I think he was really frustrated after the race. He was pointing his finger at me like he was going to get me back next weekend, so I rode right up to him to see what he had to say. My adrenaline was going too, and I didn’t think that what I did to him was dirty; I just kind of stuffed him. We exchanged some words. It wasn’t real pretty, but that’s the way it is.
I think he thought I was really holding him up. Those guys are so used to everyone just letting them by. Not clowning on any of the other guys, but I am the new guy in my class and I am paid to race everyone as hard as I can. I am not gonna let up and let Ricky by because he is my teammate. We are all in the same race, and racing means that you try as hard as you can.
Did you actually hear him call you a chump on the podium?
No, but I had some people come back to the semi and tell me about it. I am sure he was frustrated and Reed is one of those guys who gets all emotional on the podium, so I guess he just said some dumb things. I wouldn’t say that it was right, but he was frustrated and got a little excited up there and said some things that he shouldn’t have.
So would you consider Anaheim 2 your best race thus far?
I would say so. I think I rode well. I got up there and rode decent, and those guys didn’t beat me by as much as they have been beating me. I’m happy with it.
Do you feel like a podium is right around the corner?
Yeah, I would like to think so. That is definitely my next goal. I think my speed is getting better and better, and the bike keeps improving so I would say that it is a definite possibility. Also, one of those guys has fallen at every race so far, so I guess anything could happen. I just need to ride hard and put myself in a position to capitalize on it if something does happen to one of them.
So we hear that you are gonna have some pretty sweet pants this weekend…
(Laughs) Oh yeah. (Laughs) You’re just gonna have to wait and see. It should be good, though. (Laughs)
So what else is new, Sauce? We like your slick new haircut!
(Laughs) Yeah, but you know, I have pretty much been running it shaved since the end of the outdoors. I just brought her down a little closer for last weekend. (Laughs) Actually, up in Canada I was running it like that. I asked Kenny Watson to trim up my neck and he just chopped the back. After that I had to shave the whole thing.
So how is that Samoan bodyguard of yours?
Doc G? He’s good. I have some guys out there who aren’t liking me too much right now, so I have to have him around to have my back. (Laughs)
Well, good luck this weekend, Sauce.
Thanks, man. See you there!Laughs)
Well, good luck this weekend, Sauce.
Thanks, man. See you there!