by Chris Kinman
Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki’s Nico Izzi is already proving himself to be a force in the Lites class. Izzi is really fast and really talented, there’s no question. What surprised us, however, was his patience. He displayed his early maturity at Indianapolis Supercross by staying calm, riding with consistency, and maintaining his strength throughout the race. He didn’t seem to worry about anyone else on the track; he rode his own race and collected the dividend of his efforts. He stood on the first Supercross podium of his career at Indy, and we are sure it won’t be his last. Although he didn’t have the same success at Daytona, it is clear Izzi is a shoe-in for a top-3 finish overall. We caught up with the rookie this past week to chat about his factory set-up, testing, and Escalades…
How did it feel to stand on the first podium of your career?
It was awesome. It was kind of like a win for me to get on the podium. I was running top five in Atlanta, but I crashed so I was a little bit bummed out. I really wanted to redeem myself in Indy and I did. I was running pretty crappy most of the day; I have bad practice times. But I was able to pull it off in the main. I was in second the whole race with two turns to go and a lapper fell right in front of me. Villopoto was able to pass me and I was little bummed, but pumped to still get on the podium.
You seemed quite comfortable and had some of the most consistent laps out of anyone on the track. Would you say that is true?
Yeah. I wasn’t necessarily trying to go as fast I possibly could. The track could be tiring, so I just rode fast and tried not to make any mistakes. I may not have been the fastest guy, but it paid off. I didn’t crash and I put in my laps and came out third, so I was pretty happy.
After two solid showings, is your confidence pretty high?
Yeah, but I still have that voice in the back of my mind saying I need to go faster. But I am pretty pumped on everything because I am pulling it off in the mains. I know there are a few things I need to work on, but my confidence is pretty good right now. I am just enjoying racing every weekend.
Have you felt heightened expectations or added pressure from making the jump directly to a factory ride?
Not really. I would rather come into a factory setup than make the transition onto a privateer or satellite team setup. And really, they (Suzuki) haven’t put any pressure on me. Obviously, they want to see good results but they are supportive and just want me to go out there and do the best I can and have fun. Basically, I am so pumped to be where I am and the team is very supportive.
What was your first season of testing like?
It was good. Ever since I was 80’s, I was testing stuff. I consider myself a pretty good test rider. I learned from a young age. So it was a familiar experience for me, but just a little bit bigger operation. Now we test a lot more stuff. On 80’s we tested motors and suspensions, but now we even test seats, cams, tires, everything. It’s quite an experience. It’s amazing how much stuff they can do to the bike to make it perform better.
Since turning pro, have you made any extravagant purchases?
Well, I told myself if I won a Supercross this season I would buy an Escalade. But I haven’t pulled that off yet, so I am living like a cheap-ass. Although I am building an apartment on some property I own in Georgia. Right now I am just living in my motorhome on the property so it will be nice to have a place to stay that’s permanent.
How do you feel you stack up to the reest of the field in Supercross?
Well actually, I feel that I need to work on my confidence a little. Before I hurt my knee as an amateur, confidence was not an issue. I was probably the most confident guy out there. When I came back from the injury, I struggled with my confidence, and that feeling is still lingering. I know that if I can be more confident, I can do much better. But when I am out there, it is hard not think, “Woah, that’s Josh Grant,” or something like that. But I do know it’s my job and I just need to go out there and pin it.
Tell us about experiencing your first Supercross at such a highly-attended Atlanta venue.
Atlanta is sick! Especially having to follow it at Indy. Indy is cool, but the pits are small and sort of abbreviated. It makes you understand just how big Atlanta Supercross really is. I remember being there last year and thinking, “Man, I can’t wait to be here next year pitting out of a semi.” It was a great experience, really a lot of fun.