Racer X: Ivan, what are you up to this Sunday? I’d assume it’s pretty much your last day of relaxation for a while, huh? Ivan Tedesco: Yeah, just taking a day off. It’s the last weekend off before we start going wide open.
So come Monday, what will next week hold for you? Ride on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and get everything sorted out and your settings finalized? Yeah, I’ll ride the race bike one or two days and make sure it’s ready to go and make sure nothing crazy happens on the weekend. The homework is done, you know? Now it’s just a matter of maintaining everything from here until in Vegas.
With this armada of privately owned Yamaha teams, are you happy with the equipment Yamaha has put up for you and the Valli Motorsports team for 2010? Yeah, I am. The bike is awesome. The first couple of times riding it, it felt pretty good. Then I tweaked on it a little bit and did some suspension work and made a few chassis changes, and the thing is awesome after we fine-tuned it to what I like. The most impressive thing about the bike is the motor. Just stock, out of the box, it’s pretty good, and we just threw a few things at it like a piston and a head and the thing is race-ready. I think it’s a winning bike and I can go out there and win on it.
The suspension on the motorcycle is good? Yeah, yeah, the suspension is good. Once I got a few good days of testing, things really started clicking. I feel pretty comfortable on the bike, and I didn’t start riding it until December 1, so I’ve had about six weeks on it and it feels good. I’m stoked.
You also have a great crew of guys around you, don’t you? Yeah, for sure. We’re a first-year team, but we’ve got guys on board who have been doing this for a long time and been aboard winning teams and won races and championships. We know what it takes. We have Frankie [Lathem], my mechanic from over at Honda. We also John Mitcheff, who was [Ryan] Villopoto’s old mechanic. We’ll have Todd Brown from Factory Connection doing our suspension. So we’ve got a good group of guys. And the team owner, Chad Lanza, he’s a great guy who wants to do it the right way. He wants to show everyone we can go out there and do it.
After the Motocross of Nations finished up, a few of us were standing in a truck back in the pit area. You looked both ecstatic and relived, but at that point I knew you were having a real hard time finding a ride for the 2010 season. Was all that hanging over your head in Italy? Yeah, for sure. At that point I was pretty confused, you know? When I got home from the Motocross des Nations I thought, Okay, things will start rolling now. We went over there and won and when I get back, something will be on the table. But nothing ever came about. Yeah, it really was depressing. It was kind of hard to swallow. I felt like I had a pretty good summer and nothing was coming my way. I let it all pan out, and I started talking with Chad, and he seemed like he wanted to do it the right way. We came to an agreement and everything is good. I’m happy with my decision.
You and Ricky Carmichael are real close. I spoke to him last week and he didn’t pull any punches in saying he felt it was a bad move on Honda’s part not to keep you for 2010. I guess it just didn’t work out between you and Honda, huh? Yeah, I guess it’s just business. When it comes down to it, they kind of have their plan and what they want to do and with this economy and all that, they just couldn’t afford it. They had the two guys already signed up from a two-year deal [Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps], and that kind of left me out. But I’m happy with the way things went. I’m happy with the team I’m on.
There was also a strong rumor that you came very close to signing with Suzuki. Yeah, man, I came close to signing with a lot of teams. You can pretty much throw every team on there. There was Suzuki; Factory Connection was there at one point; there were quite a few teams in the mix for a while. I ended up probably talking to seven to nine teams. I talked to a lot of people.
You had five top-five and fourteen top-ten finishes to place seventh overall in supercross in 2009. Were you happy with your season?
To be honest with you, I was really, really bummed out about how it went. I expected a lot more from myself. It was a really frustrating year. I put all my effort in during the off-season. I thought I was going to be one of the guys, and when I showed up, I wasn’t. For whatever reason, my speed just wasn’t there. I was kind of fighting with some bike-setting stuff. I just couldn’t really get the ball rolling to be upfront about it. I was kind of just riding back there around fifth or eighth place. I could never quite get up there. This year I really do want to show that I know how to ride supercross. Obviously, I’ve won some Lites championships and had some success. Yeah, last year was really disappointing and I’m looking to turn that around this year.
We’ll have James Stewart, Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, Josh Grant, and then several other very strong riders on the gate next Saturday night in Angel Stadium. Where do you see yourself in the mix? Going into this first race and how I feel I’ve been riding during the week and all that, I would be happy coming out of Anaheim 1 with a top-five. I think that would be a great way to start the season and just going from there. I feel like I’m riding pretty good right now, but I really don’t know. Once we get through this first race I’ll kind of see where I’m at and see where my speed is. I want to be one of the guys getting some good starts and being up front. I feel that I have what it takes. I know my speed is pretty good and I know I’m in good shape, so now it’s just a matter of making it happen now.
And you have some new sponsors for 2010, correct?
Yeah, obviously, the Yamaha team I ride for, Valli Motorsports. As far as gear goes, I’m going to be doing a deal with One Industries. Hurley, the surf company, is also going to be coming on board. We’re going to be doing kind of a collaboration deal between One and Hurley. I’ll be doing that head-to-toe, helmet and everything. I’ll wear Oakley goggles. That’s what we’ve got going right now. We’re still working some other things and trying to bring some cool things on board. But, man, I’m stoked. I think I have a good deal going.
Johnny O’Mara, the 1983 125cc National Champion and 1984 AMA Supercross Champion, has worked with Tedesco as a rider coach and mentor for the past year. With the opening round of the 2010 season a mere five days away, we asked him how his rider has been doing.
“Ivan is now out from beneath that big factory Honda tent and on a team that maybe has a little bit less of a profile, but he really seems to be okay with that,” O’Mara says. “He was shortchanged on time on the bike, as his last race was the Motocross of Nations. His contract with Honda ended right after that race. He was off the bike for almost two months. However, Ivan dealt with it and now has over twenty-five supercross rides in him, which is really good.
“Ivan looks good. He’s come a long way in six weeks. He’s been gaining speed and confidence as he goes and has grown more comfortable. He liked the bike right from the start. He’s happy and his spirits are good. As far as how he’s riding? A lot of people have asked me that. I’d say right now he looks better at this point in time than he did last season. He’s ahead of where he was at this point last year. He’s riding really well and is confident. I think he’ll do fine. And when I say fine, I guess I’d like to see him on the podium or in the top five at Anaheim. Realistically, I think he can do it.”