As we near the opening round of the 2018 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series in Abbotsford, BC, all of the top riders are ready to race. With the first four rounds being Arenacross events, the riders will have to face the tight and challenging conditions that come with every indoor event. For some of the riders, training for these indoors events is something they haven’t done for a long time. However, for others like KTM Thor Racing rider Cole Thompson, preparing for indoor races in nothing new. With his vast indoor experience, Cole Thompson is definitely one of the title favourites heading into this new and exciting series. We caught up with Cole just prior to another day of training at the MP County Line facility in Florida.
MXP: Good morning Cole, how are things?
CT: Everything is good, I’m just down here at MP County Line training for the 2018 season.
MXP: We saw that you’ve been down there training. It looked like they received a ton of rain there recently?
CT: Oh yes, it rained so much over a 24 hour period, the tracks were all under water. We had to hit the nearby sand tracks for a few days while Iain Hayden and his crew rebuilt the tracks at County Line.
MXP: We also saw that your mechanic Steve Beattie brought your race bikes down and you tested them for a week. How did the testing go?
CT: Everything went great and our race bikes are going to be so good this year. This was the first time that I had to really test a 450 for indoor racing, because in the past it’s always been just 250 machines. So, testing a 450 was different and very interesting.
MXP: That was going to be my next question. For 2018, you’re moving back to the MX1 class and back to where you I’m sure feel you belong. To begin, what has been the biggest challenge with testing the bigger and more powerful 450s?
CT: I think the biggest thing has just been getting the power under control. With how fast our bikes are, we’ve just been working on taming the power and getting the bike so I can still be aggressive on the tight AX tracks. We tried a few different combinations and we now have the bike to where we wanted it.
MXP: As I said before, this season you’re back in the MX1 class after two years in the MX2 class. How excited are you to be back on the bigger machines?
CT: I’m really excited for 2018 and beyond. To be back in the MX1 class and still with the KTM Thor Racing Team is incredible. I did really enjoy my two years in the MX2 class, I mean, I did win one title and was leading the series last year before I got injured. So, while I had a lot of success in the MX2 class, I was always looking forward to when I could be back in the MX1 class.
MXP: Do you feel that with your smooth riding style and skill-set that you’re a better big bike rider than a 250F rider?
CT: I don’t know if I’d say better, but I’m certainly more comfortable on a 450 than on a 250. Also, I think my racing mentality might be more suited to the MX1 class as I do like racing on tracks when they’re at their roughest. There were so many times in the past two seasons the tracks would be so smooth and sometimes over watered for the opening MX2 moto. There wasn’t much to separate us so it was difficult to race in those conditions. I don’t know, the two years in the MX2 class were great and I definitely learned a ton, but it was time to move on.
MXP: How old are you right now Cole?
CT: I’m 24 right now.
MXP: You know, I’ve always said that while so many things have changed in this sport over the past twenty years, one thing that hasn’t changed is that experience still matters more than anything else. At 24, you’re just getting into your best years.
CT: I agree, everything feels so much better now then they did say five years ago. I feel stronger, my body responds a lot better to training now, and my riding feels better. You’re right, experience really matters at this level and hopefully this year I can put all of it to use.
MXP: For 2018, the series is a little different and next week all of you top riders will be lining up together for the first time this year. In the past, we’ve had to wait until June for the meaningful races to begin. Are you ready to go for Round 1 in Abbotsford?
CT: Definitely, I’m ready and I think all of the riders are ready to go. This is an exciting time in Canadian motocross as now indoor racing is a part of the main series. For so long it’s just been about outdoor motocross, and while that has been great, it’s definitely cool to have something new.
MXP: Racing indoors is nothing new to you as you’ve done it for the past few years in Supercross. But for some riders, having to train on AX and SX tracks in the off-season is a new thing. Does this give guys like yourself an advantage?
CT: I’m not sure, I sure hope so (laughs). I think for the upcoming AX events we’re all on a level playing field. The tracks aren’t going to be that technical I don’t think, so we’re all going to be able to ride them. Most of the riders have indoor experience, so the racing should be great throughout the first four rounds.
MXP: Are you worried at all that since you guys will be racing on tight indoor tracks that the racing might get a little rough?
CT: It’s not something that really worries me, we’re all professionals and we’re not going to do anything stupid. The goal for all us is to just get through the opening indoor rounds in one piece and then head into the outdoor series.
MXP: Do you still feel that even with these early AX events, the emphasis is still on the nine round outdoor series?
CT: I think for the next few years the outdoor series will still be what everyone focuses on, but after that I can honestly see the indoor racing becoming just as important. This country has never seen this type of pro series before, actually I don’t think we’ve really seen it anywhere before. Indoor and outdoor motocross coming together in one big series, it’s very exciting.
MXP: Well, the upcoming series is exciting and it’s also exciting to see you back racing after your injury last summer. Good luck in Abbotsford and we all hope your 2018 season is a successful one.
CT: Thanks Chris! I’m really excited to get back racing and see what happens. I’ve always loved indoor racing and I believe indoor skills are very important to have. Hopefully, having more of these races in Canada will help to make all of our riders better. See you in Abbotsford.