Heading into 2010, Ivan was not sure if he would have a ride for the Supercross series. Then at the last minute, a deal came through with Valli Motorsports and Yamaha, and now not only does Hot Sauce have some very strong support, he is also having a great year in America’s ball parks. We spoke with Ivan in the days following the Houston Supercross, where he finished on the podium, about his season thus far, the upcoming outdoor series, and his thoughts on the USGP.
How would say the season is going up to this point?
I think it has been decent and I have had some good rides, but I've had some really bad ones also and some crashes. Those have definitely hurt me in the point series. I had a 19th at Daytona and a couple 11th place finishes and that can really kill your momentum as far as points go. But I have had some good rides and I've been having fun with it and that's all that matters.
Including last weekend with your third place in Houston you have finished on the podium twice already this year, which, if I'm not mistaken, doubles your podium finishes throughout your entire 450 career.
Yeah I had a couple during my first year in the 450 class, but then I struggled there for a while. Last year I couldn't get on the box, I had a bunch of fourths but I didn't get any podiums. Overall it's been a good year; I would say it has been better than last year. I've had those bad races, but I feel like I have been riding pretty good every weekend and I've been in the mix.
Back when Larry Ward was racing, he would start to do well as a privateer, then he would get a factory ride and fizzle a little bit. Do you think riding as a support rider like you are now, and being on your own program has given you some extra motivation?
Maybe a little. I have pretty much always been on my own program as far as riding and training but I am just happy with my bike. I think the new Yamaha is pretty good. Last year I struggled on the Honda a bit; it definitely is not much fun when you are fighting the bike. This year I'm having fun with it, the team is awesome, and everybody around me is very positive.
With the Outdoor Nationals coming up, how are your preparations for the summer coming along?
We started doing a little outdoor testing and riding during the Easter break. The bike feels pretty good and I felt like I was riding well even during the first day of riding outdoors, so things are looking bright for the series. The 450 Class is definitely going to be stacked this year; as long as everybody is healthy, there will be a lot of fast guys and it will be a tough season. But I feel pretty good outdoors already and I'm kind of curious to see where we stand at Hangtown. I had a good summer last year so I am looking forward to the new season.
Along with the Nationals, there is the new USGP coming to Glen Helen right after Hangtown. Do you have any plans of racing in it?
No I don't. We are just going to stick to the twelve or eleven races (I don't know if they are going to add the one at the end) that we already have on the schedule. But I am not going to do the GP. I'm not a big fan of Glen Helen anyways so I'm not going to race there if I don't have to.
Talk a little bit about the Valli Motosports/Yamaha team. You guys are doing your own thing, but you also have Yamaha support and there are a lot of people on the team who you have worked with in the past.
It's been good. We started it up last minute. At one point I didn't know if I was going to be racing because I didn't have a job lined up, but we put this thing together. Like I said before, the bike has been awesome all year and I have been happy with that, and that's just due to the people we have working on it. Bones and all of the guys over at Pro Circuit help me out with my suspension, GYTR has been helping me with the motor, and I feel like our bike is just as good as anyone else's out there. I brought my mechanic Franky Latham over from Honda, and he hooks me up and takes care of me. Everything has been great, the team is mellow but fun to be with and it would be awesome if we can keep it going.