Monday Conversation II: Nico Izzi

September 1, 2008 7:46pm | by:
There’s evidently a new fire burning inside of Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Nico Izzi. He put up a fight in both motos at Steel City, and it resulted in a second-place finish overall heading into the off-season. In the first moto, after getting caught and passed by Ryan Villopoto, he attempted an aggressive re-pass on the champion that essentially ended the moto for Villopoto, as his bike was damaged in the exchange and he couldn’t continue. It cost him his shot at the Monster Triple Crown as well. In the press conference, when asked about it, Izzi said, “The whole Pro Circuit team is pretty bummed at me, but he passed me, and I just squared him back up and passed him back. I knew he saw me, and I think he hit me. Just because he has the number-one plate on his bike doesn’t mean I’m going to pull over for him. It’s all racing.” Evidently, he’s done being pushed around.

Racer X: It was quite a turnaround for you to end your season this way. Can you talk a little bit about what made this happen for you?
Nico Izzi: I knew coming in that I wanted to finish it good. You’re only as good as your last race. The first moto, I had a good start, but I didn’t feel like... I kind of got a little bit winded, and I faded back, kind of like I have all year. But the second moto, I didn’t get a good start, and I was kind of bummed, but I got on a good pace, started passing people, then I saw [Jake] Weimer and [Brett] Metcalfe ahead of me, and I just reeled them in and had some blood in my eyes. I was tired, but it was down and dirty, so I passed them both, actually, in the same turn, and it was good. I had a lot of fun, and it was good to end it like that.

In the press conference, you talked a little bit about Buddy Antunez, who is your trainer, but it wasn’t clear what you were saying. Were you saying you guys have stopped working together?
I don’t want to say that yet, because Buddy’s a great guy, but I just think that trainers are a little bit over-rated. If you want something bad enough, you know what work you’ve got to do.

In the press conference, you started talking about winning championships next year. That seems like new talk from you.
No, I’ve known my whole life that I can do it. I think I have enough talent and skill, it’s just this whole year I’ve been lacking on fitness. I think I’ve had the speed most of the year. If anything, I’ll just get more speed when I get my fitness, because I’m still trying to conserve every time I’m out there to make sure I last through the whole moto. So, when I can go all-out for 35 minutes, or all-out for 15 laps [in supercross], I think it’ll be a completely different story.

Does it help that you are staying on factory Suzukis next year?
The team’s great. They’re awesome. They’re like one big family of mine, and they take care of me. The bikes are great, and I’m excited for next year.

Is it fair to say that a lot of the rookies in professional motocross aren’t prepared for how much different it is from the amateurs? I’m sure you won a lot as an amateur without a lot of hard work...
Yeah, I definitely got a rude awakening. I was probably one of the most winningest amateurs out there, and it’s kind of easy to get a holeshot and win a five-lap race, you know? It’s definitely a rude awakening, and there’s a lot of good guys coming in, and if they put the work in, they’re going to be tough contenders, also.

Do you feel like you’ve broken through the rookie barrier and now realize that there’s a lot more to it than just riding fast?
Yeah, for sure. My whole rookie season was pretty tough. I learned so much, and it’s just amazing that every weekend I learn something new. I’m just going to take all that knowledge and take it into next year and see what I can do.

What is the final puzzle piece going to be that’s going to put you on top of the box and maybe make you a championship contender?
To tell you the truth, the last off-season, I was struggling with a lot of things, and I really didn’t even hardly train at all. All I did was ride. That bit me hard. It wasn’t like anything to do with partying or anything, just a lot of issues with my family and things. I was pretty depressed, dude. All I would do is ride and sit in my room. I came out to Atlanta [supercross] and did all right, but I knew this whole year was going to be a struggle, so I’ve just been trying to keep my head up. The final piece is just wanting it now that I know I can do it, so now I can go out every day in the off-season and do my work.