Cole Thompson – Phoenix Conversation
By Billy Rainford
Canadian #127 Cole Thompson headed east into the desert for round 5 of the Monster Energy 250 West SX Series. After snagging his first top 10 of the series at round 4 in Oakland, Cole and the Slaton Racing YP.com Nuclear Blast Fox KTM Canada Team were looking to continue making improvements. Here’s what Cole had to say about Phoenix.
The Week between Oakland and Phoenix
We did some suspension testing, which I’ve been wanting to do all year. I was able to get some new setting for this weekend in Phoenix. I just did the usual stuff…riding and stuff like that. And then we left on Friday to head out to Phoenix. I had to drive over. I had my bikes with me because I did testing on Thursday. It was good.
Donk was with me so I had him working quite a bit.
My shoulder feels good. I mean, it’s still sore and stuff but it’s gotten a lot better. With any shoulder injury, it’s so hard to tell. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just nagging, kind of thing. I felt fine on Saturday. Racing-wise, it felt really strong and good.
Even when we were walking it, I was like…walking in, it’s a big place and they had the start, literally, end to end! Traditionally, Supercross starts you maybe click 3rd gear. You click 3rd gear and that’s about it. There you clicked top gear – you just kept grabbing gears all the way down. I don’t even think we have starts like that outdoors, not anymore. I liked it.
It was pretty basic. The rhythms were really easy, to be honest with you. There was one section that I think everyone…the whoops were really big this week and they never really got smaller. They got a little bit smaller in practice down the left side but it wasn’t even that they got smaller, they just got a rut through them and it was hard to hit the rut. They went out and re-built them for the night show. After the first couple heat races, they got cupped out and they were pretty nasty. They were probably up there with some of the biggest whoops I’ve ever hit.
I’m not the best at whoops so it was a little bit of a struggle, but I felt like I got through them decent and consistent. I wasn’t nearly as fast as maybe I should have been but I just didn’t want to crash so I just got through them steady all day. I wasn’t the fastest through them, but I was getting through them.
Practice and Qualifying:
The first practice went really well. I got out on the track and my bike set up right away felt better. I was a lot more comfortable jumping through the rhythms this week.
First timed qualifying I was good. It was better than the second timed qualifying. I was riding better but just couldn’t get through the whoops very well the second time.
Leading into the night show, I was just slow to get off the gate [in the heat] and was getting pelted with rocks. I had to work my way from mid-pack and got up to 7th. Then, on the last lap, I got another position with Jordan Smith going down in the whoops. That got me up to 6th and I was right on (Zach) Osborne there for the last two laps. It was good to get through it.
The Main Event:
In the main, I came off the gate and I didn’t even spin, I just didn’t get high enough on the RPMs and rolled off too slow and started completely last. I had a little bit of a struggle just finding my flow for the 15 laps. I got kind of hung up early and sometimes when you get behind…you almost start riding their speed. You follow them for a couple laps and then you start riding their lines and it puts you in a different flow. I felt like I followed too long and I wasn’t moving through quick enough.
I was caught in that [first lap pile-up] and lost a bunch of ground there. There were too many riders in too small of a spot. A couple riders got together and then they ended up tangling and falling together on top of the table. A couple riders hit them and it was almost like a road block. You had to come to a stop just to get through it. It was just typical Supercross – bad start into the carnage, kind of thing. First laps are always kind of scrambled but I made some good passes and I think on the second lap I made a couple passes and then I stalled the bike. They all got back by me. It was just sort of back and forth the whole 15 laps.
It just seems especially hard this year in the west. If you get a bad start it’s so hard, for me, maybe not for guys like Cooper (Webb), but to get through like I used to on the east coast…in years past I’ could get a bad start and still make it into the top 10 no problem. Now, if I get a bad start it’s just a struggle to even get near the top 10.
Plan for the Week
I’m going to try to do some stuff different this week just to mix it up. With only 2 rounds left before the break I’ll try to get something going and get a little bit of confidence and momentum into the break so that I can come back into the final round at Santa Clara with some good speed. Today I rode and then again probably Thursday and maybe a little bit on Friday. Again, trying some different settings with suspension and stuff like that with WP. I’m hoping to maybe put it all together this weekend. I have all the pieces there, I just need to start putting it together.
During the Break after Dallas
I’m hoping to get some bike settings for this summer dialed in a little bit and then about a week or a week-and-a-half out I’ll start getting back to Supercross before Santa Clara. After Dallas, I’ll start focusing on the outdoors. That’s the benefit of doing the west coast, you have more time to get comfortable. After last year, I learned a lot about bike set up being ready before the season instead of trying to get ready as the season is going. I’ll get nice and comfy on my 250s since I’ll be racing those instead of the 450 and go from there and see how I’m feeling.
It’ll be good [to be racing 250 in the summer] to race just the one bike this year rather than having to switch over to the 450s after Supercross. I’ve never given myself much of a chance on a 250, I’ve always just doe the 450 and then only done Supercross on a 450 so I think it’ll be good for my career, having to ride 250 and work on the little bike a little bit more and then then the plan is to go right up to the 450 after this year. It will be a one year kind of deal.
Qualifying – 16th
Heat 1 – 6th
Main Event – 13th
250 West Points – 15th
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