Nico Izzi has been riding Suzukis for about as long as he can remember, and later this year, Suzuki will repay his amateur success aboard the yellow machines with a shot at the big leagues. As is now the trend, Nico will wrap up his amateur career at Loretta Lynn’s in August, and then make his pro debut at Millville.
Although his move to the professional ranks is no doubt always on his mind, for now the 17 year-old Michigan native is focused on finishing his amateur career on top. “I hate losing” is how Nico responded when we asked if he would be putting it into cruise control until Millville.
Like the rest of the amateur motocross world, Nico is in Las Vegas this week for the 36th Annual World Mini Grand Prix, and we caught up with him for an update on how things are going in Vegas and to learn more about his plans for the rest of the season…
TWMX: Hi Nico. We know you’re busy in Vegas this week, thanks for taking some time to check in.
Nico Izzi: No problem. Thank you for calling.
How did things go in Texas at Lake Whitney and Oak Hill?
Texas was probably the worst two weeks I’ve had in my career. I kind of ran into some bad luck with some referee issues, and then some bad starts and a few pile-ups. But towards the end of the two weeks (at Oak Hill) I picked it up and ended up with a third overall, so it wasn’t what I would normally expect, but it was better than I did at Whitney. I just wanted to boost my confidence a little bit; after you struggle and get caught in pile-ups you start to get bummed out. I was pretty happy with third, and after Texas just wanted to come out to California and start getting ready for Vegas.
So between Oak Hill and World Mini you trained out here in California?
Yeah, I’ve been out in California training. I stayed at (Michael) Lapaglia’s house and did some road biking, rode all day, and then hit the gym. It was good because there’s a lot of pros out there and it helps build up your speed and motivate you.
Prior to this year, you were out most of 2006 with knee surgery?
Yeah, I was out for about seven months. I had my ACL done in my left knee, and my meniscus in my right knee. So I had to get both of them fixed and was out for a while. It kind of sucked because those guys were still training and riding while I was stuck on the couch, but now I’m just trying to pick up where I left off. As long as I’m back to where I was by Millville; that’s the main goal.
For those that may not be following your career as closely, tell us more about the plans for your transition to the pros…
I’m going to finish up the amateur races; I’ll do Mammoth, Ponca City, and then Loretta’s. Then after Loretta’s I’ll go straight to Millville to do the last four Nationals with Factory Suzuki. Then I’ll go into Supercross after that.
I would imagine seeing what guys like Dungey have done; moving straight from Loretta’s into the pros, and then winning some Supercross races, must be encouraging…
Yeah, it’s really cool. Last year, right before I got my knee fixed, Dungey, Canard, and I were all dicing it up. It’s good to see that someone you know you can ride with is out there winning Supercross races. It’s definitely really cool. I’m looking forward to being his teammate and going out there to win some races.
What’s the long-term plan with Suzuki?
I signed a three-year deal, this last amateur year, and then two years pro.
So then what’s your plan for these last Amateur Nationals; is winning still the priority, or is it also about staying healthy?
Kind of both; I hate losing. I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to losing, but I also want to ride smart and not do anything that would leave me sitting out Millville. I’m still training really hard, and definitely want to win somme more amateur titles. As long as I’m back up to speed by Millville, that’s the main goal.
How are thing going so far at World Mini?
Today was open practice, and it went pretty good. The track was really rough and rutted, but it was really good.
Who is your strongest competition there?
Definitely (Austin) Stroupe and Trey (Canard); they’re both on it. But I definitely feel a lot better here than I did in Texas. I’m just gonna to have to see how it pans out. I definitely have to get some good starts, and not make any mistakes.
Anything else folks should know about Nico Izzi before we let you go?
Just that we’re working really hard to get ready for Millville. It’s going to be great.
Sounds good. Good luck this week.