Joel Rizzi has had a pretty good season by any measure, the MX Nationals youth champion was in Imola for the YZ125 blu cru super-cup, an invitational race with all the riders wearing identical gear and pitting out of a special Yamaha area next to the factory teams.
Fastest in timed practice, 14-year-old Rizzi took two second-place finishes to stand on the podium in second overall. I sat down with Joel to find out about his Imola experience.
DBR: Joel, tell me about your weekend.
Joel Rizzi: Free practice started good, I was third just getting used to everything like the format. I went out in qualifying and was fastest, a second quicker than everyone so I was really happy with that. Our first race was at three o’clock on Saturday, I started about sixth and got into second about half way and battled for first all the way, I think I was about a second behind when we crossed the line. I was a bit bummed that I couldn’t make the pass but I was happy with my speed.
The second race on Sunday, I took the holeshot and led for three laps. When Kevin passed me he was riding really good. They had graded the track so it wasn’t very technical, just flat out and outside lines everywhere. I’ve had a great weekend and Yamaha have put on an amazing event, I’m really happy to get second overall.
DBR: You were up on the MXGP podium, what was that experience like?
JR: Amazing! When I was up there it was like a dream, popping the champagne and everything – hopefully there’s a lot more to come.
DBR: I just want to rewind, how did you get an invitation to this event?
JR: It’s only for Yamaha riders. You have to do good in your own country, I won the MX Nationals this year and Sam Nunn was leading the BYN I think when they did the invites so we got asked. They e-mailed Paul, my boss, and I was really excited to do it. The other riders have all won or done good in their championships.
DBR: Do you know any of the other lads or raced against them before?
JR: No, I’ve got no idea about them. I know Sam Nunn obviously and I’ve heard of a few others but not raced against them.
DBR: You’re 14 now so you could go into the EMX250 but I think you want a full year in the EMX125 championship. What are your plans?
JR: I’m gonna be training really hard throughout the winter and get prepared, hopefully have some solid results and get my name out there. I’m doing the full championship, aiming for good starts, podiums and maybe even some wins.
DBR: Have you got a team in place for next year?
JR: We’ve had a lot of deals offered but haven’t signed anything yet although I think it’s close.
DBR: Any more races this year or holiday time now?
JR: I’ve got the last Maxxis at Lyng and I’m probably doing that on my cousin’s 250. I’ve ridden it a few times and like it so hopefully I’ll have some fun and finish off with that. Then it’s two weeks off, then hard work until Christmas, a little break then and start going again.