Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Adjusting to Life in the Fast Lane

Vector RacingWorld Supersport racer Vladimir Ivanov is hoping to get his first points of the season in the Netherlands this weekend.
This weekend motorcycle racer Vladimir Ivanov will try to notch his first win on the Supersport World Championship in Assen, the Netherlands.

Points have proven elusive in Ivanov's young Supersport career, but he has come close to getting on the board. In Qatar earlier this year he finished 16th, missing out on the points by one place. He came in 16th again in Australia.

The international racing circuit is a far cry from the karting tracks of St. Petersburg where Ivanov, 24, got his start at the age of 8.

Following in the footsteps of his late father Anatoly, a Soviet karting champion, the young Vladimir soon developed a taste for speed.

Over the next seven years, he developed the skills that would eventually take him to the big time, but the transition from karting to superbikes was far less smooth than the tarmac on which he now plies his trade.

"In 1998, the money simply ran out," Ivanov recalls. "Racing is an expensive sport."

But life off the track didn't appeal to Ivanov, and within a year he had scraped together enough money to buy his first scooter. The switch from four wheels to two proved propitious.

"I started racing on tracks, learning the ropes, improving year by year, and by 2002, I was racing with 600cc's."

The 600-cubic-centimeter engine is the standard in Supersport.

Ivanov was a quick learner and, despite the relatively low level of competition, it came as a surprise when he was crowned the champion in Russia's Supersport 600 category in 2004 in only his second season.

His team, Vector, the first privately owned professional motorcycle racing team in the country, decided that Ivanov was ready to take the next step.

He began competing in the German Open Championship, where the level of competition was higher than anything he had experienced before. Initially, he struggled to keep pace.

"Every national championship in Europe has a good level compared to the Russian championship, because we don't have a good race track," Ivanov said. "And of course you can't train in the city!"

"There used to be three very dangerous tracks" in Russia, Ivanov said. "If you crashed, there was a big chance you would go into a tree or a wall."

In his first race in the German championship, Ivanov finished a respectable 17th, but within three months, he was a regular in the top 10.

From there, it was a short rev and a wheelspin to the Supersport World Championship.

In addition to his two 16th-place finishes, Ivanov came in 19th in England and Spain.

Now in his second season in Supersport, Ivanov is upbeat about the future.

"Three years ago, no one thought a Russian team could compete in the world championship. But we trained and trained, and our sponsors supported us, and now we are there," he said with a grin.

Vector's eventual goal is to compete in the Moto GP. Moto GP is the highest and most prestigious tier of motorcycle racing, and boasts household names like six-time world champion Valentino Rossi.

It would be a major step up for Ivanov, but he is nothing if not confident.

"I want to be faster than the other riders," he said. "I want others to look at me and say: 'That's one hell of a fast driver!'"