Ivan Tedesco | Same Team, New Role
A press release issued by RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki just before the 2014 Utah National confirmed what many in the industry had assumed for months: after a lengthy and successful career, Ivan Tedesco was ready to retire from professional racing. The former 250 Outdoor National champion’s career was sporadic over the last few years, even missing complete years of racing due to a lack of a ride. Last-minute signings with Rockstar Energy Racing KTM and RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki brought IT( back for one more run, but resulted in more bumps, bruises, and ultimately an overheating issue at Budds Creek.
Knowing how difficult it is to step completely away from the sport, Tedesco and the RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki have turned his talents to testing the team’s RM-Z450 race bikes. Between recent practice motos at Milestone, we learned more about what happened on the sweltering day in Maryland and what the future holds for “Hot Sauce…”
The last nine months, with your transition back into racing and then to your current role, how have they gone?
It's been good. Budds Creek was my last professional race, and I wasn't having fun in those last few outdoor races that I did so I decided to move on. The team was cool with it, so I moved into the testing role and since mid-August we've been hitting Supercross hard. We've worked through a bunch of different parts to improve the bike.
Budds Creek was the first hot and humid race of the year. What happened, just a meltdown?
Yeah, pretty much a meltdown. I was training out here in California, and while it is hot out here, the humidity there pretty much zapped me. In the second moto with four laps to go I hit a wall. I tried to push through, but I fell on the last lap and was trying to kick my bike for about a minute. I was completely delirous and I guess I finished the race without a helmet [Laughs]. I was so hot and just wanted to get back to the truck. When I got back there and cooled off, I knew that was it for me. I just wasn't there anymore and not as competitive as I wanted to be. To be racing for tenth to fourteenth place, that's just not fun for me.
How was the move from Rockstar Energy Racing KTM during the Supercross series to the RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki team for the Nationals?
I got the call to ride the KTM in about mid-December, so I didn't have much time to prepare but I wanted to race still. I had fun with it, but I wasn't as competitive as I wanted to be. And that just makes it not any fun; to put all of the work in, then go and get your ass kicked every week is deflating. These guys called me to come test and race the outdoors for them, and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to show my worth as a test rider and still go racing. I did a few races and did okay at some of them, but it wasn't as good as I wanted, so I made the call to move on to the testing role. It's been working good. The team and I work really well together and the bike is improving every time we go out.
Was it a difficult decision to retire?
Oh yeah, it really was because you don't want to face that it is over. I raced professionally for about fifteen years, it's all I know and was what I did. To know that it is over kind of sucks, but at the same time, I wasn't having much fun so I knew that it was time to move on. Luckily I have this to fall back on and I can stay involved in the sport that I love so much, ride good bikes on Supercross tracks, and go have fun.
You have been a part of the team through its various steps over the years. How much has it changed from its time as a mostly independent team on Kawasaki bikes to now, with full factory support from Suzuki?
It's still the same at the core. Ricky came aboard and brought the Suzuki factory support. I was on the team when it was H&H Kawasaki, with Carey Hart and Kenny Watson running the show. Those guys are still involved, and when you add Ricky to the mix, we have some cool owners that want to be at the championship level. Getting the factory Suzuki support and hiring a guy like Ken Roczen proves they have all of the pieces of the puzzle, it's just a matter of doing it now.
How much has the Suzuki progressed since your first test rides? Are things advancing by leaps and bounds with their input, or is it now just small steps?
Now it is just small steps. You go out every day and just try to improve. There are quite a few parts that we've run through. The whole point of me testing is while Ken is in Florida doing his boot camp training, I'm running through stuff so that when he does come here, we have narrowed it down to just a few things instead of twenty things. It saves everyone time, and I think that we like similar things on the bike.
Will you stay on the team as a long-term technical advisor?
Yeah, that is the deal. The plan for 2015 is to do the testing and go to the races, so I'm involved, I can see what he wants, and work during the week on what he wants. I will start on the outdoor testing early, probably around February. And that's important, because when you are racing Supercross and are in the hunt for a championship, it's impossible to test for motocross. So me being able to do a lot of that initial testing will help out a lot.