Catching Up with…Cole Thompson

By Billy Rainford

In case you missed our conversation in last week’s Frid’Eh Update…

Week #11 belongs to the reigning MX2 champion, Cole Thompson | Bigwave photo

We’ve been following Cole Thompson‘s career since he was on little bikes, so it’s extra special to see him claim an outdoor title in his home country. Cole was an established competitor in the MX1 class, so when he dropped down to contest the MX2 class in 2016, we all new it made him the one to beat, instantly.

We’ve been following Cole’s racing career a long time, so it was great to see him realize his dream with a Canadian championship last summer | Bigwave photo

Cole is famous for his smooth style. In fact, his style is so smooth it sometimes looks like he’s not trying. Would that technique translate to the hyper style of the 250 outdoor world? Well, we all know the answer, but it doesn’t stop Cole from sometimes beating himself up for not riding like he thinks he should on the little bike.

Here’s a look at his 2016 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals season:

Cole won 7 out of 10 rounds and was never off the podium. He was 106 points ahead of second place finisher, Shawn Maffenbeier. Was this the most dominant season in Canadian history? I don’t know, but it was definitely one for the ages! At times, he seemed like a ‘man among boys’ and we’re going to get the chance to see him run the #1 in 2017. Can anyone step up to challenge for the title? I know there are a few riders who are ready to step up to the plate. It should be an exciting season.

We grabbed Cole for a chat as he was just arriving in Indianapolis for this round of Supercross. Here’s what the 23-year-old had to say:

Here’s what Cole had to say | Tyler Spikman photo

Direct Motocross: Hello, Cole. Can you talk about last summer? Dropping down from the 450 class, were you excited to be back on the 250?

Cole Thompson: Ya, it was a fun summer. It was different riding the 250. I turned Pro and I’ve never done 250’s outdoors. It gave me a chance to see how I could ride the little bike on the moto track. The plan was to just do 1 year but now we’re going to do 2 years.

Ya, well obviously they want to see a big #1 on the KTM.

Ya, a championship is always good for the team and the brand.

You’re more known as a smooth rider whose style is more suited to the 450. How did you like riding the 250? Did you feel like you got the aggression back?

I think I still ride a little too smooth. Sometimes I try to tell myself to ride a little harder but it was good last year. I think this year will be a little better now that I’ve been around the circuit on a 250. And racing Supercross again on the 250, I’m more in the mode of the little bike rather than going between the 450 and 250 like I’ve done in years past. I think this year will be much easier for me with testing and everything.

Cole will defend his MX2 title this year before moving up to the 450 class in 2018 | Bigwave photo

If you had to pick a highlight from last year, what would it be?

All season was really good. One in particular would be my closest to home race at Gopher Dunes. For me, it was a huge event with pretty much my whole family there. Being able to go 1-1 on the day just felt great with my family and friends.

You clinched the title at Deschambault, and yet JSR had to physically put a smile on your face on the stage. What was up there?

I won that day, and it was good. It was a lot of stress off me and it hadn’t set in that I won the championship yet so I was still in race mode. I think I was just mentally preparing for the next weekend. To me, I’m not much one to celebrate. It was a good moment, for sure, but I’m always trying to get off to the next thing and I think he had to kind of wake me up and get me to try to enjoy the moment, for sure.

What did you get up to after the final round at RJ’s?

The following weekend I went to Costa Rica so I wasn’t able to attend Walton. After that, I took about 2 weeks off and just enjoyed the rest of the summer because our summers are short-lived racing all summer you don’t get to enjoy the weekends. I took some time off and went to the lake and did normal stuff for a little bit and then got back into training around the 1st of October and geared up for this season coming.

So, you’re based out of Tallahassee, Florida. How did you prepare for this season of Supercross?

Right now, I’m living in Tallahassee renting with Joey Savatgy. He’s got a house there. And I’m actually training at MTF (Millsaps Training Facility). I’ve been there since the end of November. They’ve been able to accept me like another member of the family and I’ve been able to get along with everyone at MTF and it’s been a great help for my program, the mental side and everything like that.

I was there a couple days ago but I guess you guys were over at Coleen Millsaps’ other track?

Ya, she has a track that’s about 20 minutes from MTF.

Cole will continue to shoot for top 10 in SX and hopes to race 1 or 2 AMA outdoor races before heading to round 1 in Kamloops, BC | Tyler Spikman photo

Will you do any outdoor racing before the season starts out in Kamloops?

Ya, I think after I finish up in Supercross, I’ve been talking to JSR if he wants to do at least 1 or 2 rounds previous to our nationals. One, maybe 2 if things are going well, but I’ll try to do at least a round of the AMA outdoor series and head up to Canada to start the 11-week, 10-round schedule. So, it’s pretty much wide open all summer and then I’d like to try to do any AMA events that are available. I want to try to keep racing into the fall and then get ready again next year for Supercross.

So, because you’ll be moving up to the 450 class in Canada for 2018, does that mean 450 Supercross next year as well?

No. No way. That class is personally way too gnarly! Those guys are all really good riders and I think I’m fine with staying in the 250 class. Not that the Lites class is any easier, but I have a lot of experience on the bike and racing those guys. So no, no way, that’s out of the question. Once I get a little bit more confident in the 250 class, but for now, no.

Is your goal to one day do the full 17-round Supercross series in the 450 class?

Ya, of course. Obviously, it’s still a goal of mine to be in America racing, but it comes to the point where you can’t keep trying to do it on your own. You need some kind of help. I’ve been thankful for all the help from KTM Canada to allow me to race Supercross in the winter and then go up there and have factory support and a great team to work with all summer to be able to do a lot of things that I set out to do, and one of them was to win a championship and I did that last year.

Now, moving into this year, I’ll try to defend the title and then move back up to the 450 class. That’s the main goal and where everyone wants to be.

Cole wants to do a full season of 450 Supercross before he’s done | Bigwave photo

So, what’s the goal this weekend in Indy? I know you want to get into the top 10.

Ya, same goal. Everything’s there, I’ve just got to put all the pieces together. I’ve been really struggling with starts. It’s been tough this year, coming to the track and getting into the mix with those guys. You look at the lap times and everybody is on the same lap times, maybe not the first 3 or 4 guys are a little bit quicker, but from there back everyone is pretty much fair game. I’m going to try to get a better start.

OK, well good luck this weekend. Who would you like to thank?

I’d like to thank KTM Canada, Parts Canada, Thor, and all my family back home for supporting me.

We won’t be seeing Cole at the Detroit round of Supercross this weekend as he heads back to Costa Rica for round 1 of their outdoor national series. Good luck, Cole.