Frid’Eh Update #20 Presented by the 2018 Husqvarna FX350
By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
Welcome to Week #20 of the DMX Frid’Eh Update Presented by the 2018 Husqvarna FX350. I’ve been a little confused with our Update numbering season, ever since the advent of the career numbers thing. To be honest, I’m not even 100% sure we’re supposed to be on Week #20, but here we are.
Week #20 goes out to the rider who has done better than anyone in Supercross in recent memory. Cole Thompson comes from a family of 5 boys who all raced moto. Cole is the youngest and seems to have benefited from the mistakes of all his brothers before him. He’s also got them to help him as his career continues.
Cole is from a small country town called Brigden that sits outside the small city of Sarnia, Ontario. Sarnia is know as a petroleum refining city that sits on the St. Clair River across from the small Michigan town of Port Huron.
With several tracks at his disposal, Cole has been able to climb the ranks and has now reached the point in his career that he has to be considered one of, if the not the, favourite to take the $100K Rockstar Triple Crown money.
Cole took the Arenacross Tour portion of the series and actually managed to make it look easy. He’d never admit that, but it’s true. He seemed to be in a class all by himself on a weekly basis. I also know that some of the other riders who may read this won’t be thrilled, but I don’t think they’d be able to argue that statement, either.
He was the defending 250 champion heading in to the 2017 Canadian season and was looking to defend the title for his KTM Canada team, but when he crashed at round 6 at Notre Dame du Bon Conseil in Quebec, the injury to his thumb took him out for the rest of the summer.
We rang him up for a quick intro interview to see how he’s been doing. Here’s what he had to say:
Direct Motocross: Hey, Cole. Your summer obviously ended before you would have liked, but can you tell us have the first few rounds went for you in 2017?
Cole Thompson: The first few rounds went good and then it ended at round 6 when I broke my thumb.
Did you feel like you were where you needed to be to defend the title?
Ya, I thought we did a good job, myself and the team. We had 40 points going into round 6 and I felt more like myself in the east.
Did you have a highlight race from the first 5 rounds that stands out?
Um, not in particular. I got smoked at round 1 and I struggled at the 2nd round but was able to get 1-1. 3rd round, got smoked again (Laughs) and then the 4th round I started to come around and was able to get both wins. I still didn’t feel great. I remember having some arm pump issues.
Ya, I got smoked on the west, for sure. At Gophers, I think I got smoked in the first and then I came around to win the 2nd moto, so it was a little bit of a struggle last summer. It was one of those years that you kind of go through the motions a little bit. Everyone has it, but I didn’t seem to find my flow as quickly as some of the other guys.
Let’s talk about that crash. What happened there, were you just a little impatient or what?
It was kind of just the frustration of not getting going early enough in my motos. I’d been struggling in the west with just kind of following the guys and not making moves quick enough and just kind of like you say I was just kind of impatient and tried to make a pass that should have probably waited to find another area.
I kind of came across and I remember sliding and then stopped and I clipped the back of his (Jacob Hayes) wheel and went right to the ground. The first instinct is to get on the bike and get going again and the thought that burnt into my head for the rest of my life was I couldn’t really grip the throttle and looking down at my hand and seeing my thumb being in the middle of my palm.
At that point, I was thinking about whether or not my thumb was even attached or is it ripped out and just sort of sitting in there. I took the glove off and it wasn’t pretty. I went back to the rig and had it popped back in and figured I had a couple hours to try to make the best of it and go out again.
We taped it up and the tape didn’t hold it in, it was pretty wobbly. I think when I popped it out the second time was when I tore all the stuff inside and really messed it up. I probably should have called it a day and let it rest a bit, but I went back out and tore everything and that was it.
At the next race, I couldn’t even hold on to the throttle, never mind try to do an actual lap on the track so I called it a season at round 7 in practice.
It was kind of a bummer to end it like that. To have one little hiccup and then for it to be over kind of sucks.
I’ve had the same surgery and mine still lets me know it’s there from time to time. How’s your thumb now?
It’s good. I just treated it the same as with my knee. I took way more time than I needed to to recover, but after I had a good surgeon at the Fowler Clinic in London I just followed it step by step. They told me how long to wait and I gave even a week after I was released to go riding.
On the first day I came back to riding I felt really good, my thumb didn’t bother me, body was back to 100% and it was good. I started right at the end of October riding. I think I only had a week at my place and then I had to head to Florida because of the bad weather.
I feel it in the cold a bit but I don’t really think about it much. I’ve hit it a few times. I actually had a big crash, probably a month ago, when I was doing outdoors and my glove ripped off on that side. I’ve never had a crash where my glove actually came off. The first thing I thought of was to look at my hand and everything was fine.
It’s always going to be something that’s in the back of your head, but for the most part I try not to repeat that because that wasn’t fun.
I’ve got to ask you, do you miss racing Monster Energy Supercross?
Ya, I do , actually. When I first did it, I did it with my brother and my parents and it was tough. It was hard to do it 100% because when we first got into it I was learning quite a bit. We were kind of learning as we went.
The year that I got on the Rockstar KTM team, I was really looking forward to that year. Everything was in place and I thought it was going to be a good year for me.
It went all right, but I never anticipated that much pressure, riding for a factory team. I struggled a bit. Looking back, I really do miss it. I miss battling for a top 5 position and having that energized race in me.
Watching it on TV you think about when you raced it, but this year was cool getting to do Arenacross in Canada so I can’t complain too much.
Let’s talk about the Arenacross Tour. You made it look pretty easy out there. How was the racing from your perspective?
I wouldn’t say it was easy from my perspective. Those guys are fast, for sure. I think my riding style really suited the tracks this year. In Areancross, it’s easy to over-ride the tracks, but if you go too fast you hit the ground or make mistakes that can cost you.
For me, it was just like I tried to ride it like a normal practice. I didn’t plan on having that good of an Arenacross season. My worst finish was a 2nd. I got like three 2nds. I won all my Heat races and won the 6 main events and that’s hard to do in any type of racing.
That’s a good thing for me because in years past I’ve always struggled with getting good starts and being aggressive and sprinting so I can take a lot of positives out of what good happened in Arenacross.
But that being said, we’ve got another series now and it’s not going to be easy by any means, obviously. It’s only going to get harder so, like I said, it was cool to have so much success in Arenacross but that was 3 or 4 weeks ago, so on to the next thing.
I knew you’d never say it was easy, but you really did make it look that way.
(Laughs) Well, thank you. I had fun. It’s always fin when you’re winning and things are going good. I tried to really work on my weaknesses so to see things come around like that was sweet.
Now we’re heading to the outdoors and I’m predicting we could have a Canadian champion and it could come down to between you and your teammate Kaven Benoit. Have you been training with him?
We did a photo shoot at Club MX, that was back in March. I did a little bit of riding with him there and I know he felt really good. We just rode a week of testing out in California with WP to get some things figured out for the outdoors with settings and stuff.
He was flying! He kicked my ass pretty good at some of the tracks, but I think it will be a tough summer between him and the Kawi and Yamaha and all the boys are going to be fast. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, by any means. I think it will be a good year for racing. Hopefully, you’ll see multiple winners and good battles and hopefully we’ll have it come down to the wire.
I just hope, at the end, I’m in the right place and put myself in a good position to try to make a run at it.
Are you happy to be moving back up to the 450 class or do you miss the 250’s?
I don’t miss 250’s. I’ve never liked them from the time I raced a 450 back when I was a B rider. I’ve raced them plenty of times in Supercross and as an amateur but, for some reason, I’ve always come back to the 450 and been at home.
This will be my 4th year with the bike so I’m really comfortable. Hopefully, everything is good to go for this summer and I can make stuff happen.
Have you raced your last AMA Supercross or will you go back at some point?
I would love to have done it this year! It was hard to justify it in my sense because I’d taken so much time off to get healthy and I [didn’t know if I should] come back and race 3 or 4 rounds, at the most, and then do this Arenacross series or do I just focus on Arenacross, focus on the Triple Crown. You know, everyone’s chasing that big $100 000 so I just wanted to put my energy into that this year and see where the cards fall.
Next year, we finish our series on Supercross and then it goes right into January so maybe do a few west rounds on the 450. No promises, but i would love to do it.
Even in 2017, I would have like to do more because the few that I did I struggled at so I would have like to give it another go and see where it went. I don’t think I’ll ever be like I’m totally done with Supercross. I still feel young and I still feel like I can be competitive in it at some place. We’ll see.
How old are you now?
What about the MXON at Red Bud this year? Would you love to be on the team?
I would. That would be awesome. The last couple years it’s been over in Europe so it’s cool to see in back to the US, especially at a track like Red Bud.
To this date, that’s been my best finish outdoors. I got a 7th overall, I think, so it’s my best outdoor finish. It was my rookie year, 2012, and I would love to go back there and try to battle with the world’s best.
Hopefully, I’ll get selected but I know there’s a couple Canadians to pick from. Last year, I thought they did good, so we’ll see what team gets picked and go from there.
I think I’d go watch it even if I wasn’t racing.
Hey, wait, you got married! How was that? What did you guys do?
(Laughs) Ya, we got married right before the Sarnia Arenacross. We got married on Tuesday and drove home on Thursday to go race.
It’s been good so far. It’s been a month of marriage. She (Chloe) does a lot of things behind the scenes to keep me going, day in and day out, that keeps me organized and focused on what I need to do.
It’s been 6 years of dating and we were engaged for 2 years so it was one of the things I wanted to do this year and we did it in April.
Where did you get married?
Just at the beach. It was just me and her and it was like a 5-minute thing and we were married.
OK, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Good luck this year and who would you like to thank?
Thank you. I’d like to thank all the team sponsors: KTM Canada, Thor, Red Bull, and Parts Canada.
The FX 350 shares much of its engine and chassis architecture with the motocross FC 350, but is tailored for closed course off-road usage. With a maximum output of 58 hp, the FX 350 has a 450 rivalling power-to-weight ratio while retaining the light, agile handling of 250-class machines. This is matched with an advanced electronics package featuring launch control, switchable engine maps and traction control resulting in a versatile, high performance package. Include a 6-speed transmission, larger fuel capacity and an 18-inch rear wheel and the FX 350 becomes the ultimate offroad competition weapon.
Click HERE to find a dealer near you.
Happy Friday, guys.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross
First of all, a big congratulations to the 3 2018 SX champions. Aaron Plessinger captured his first professional championship in the 250 West action and Zach Osborne repeated as the East 250 champ. In both cases, the two winners were the best all around riders on their respected coasts.
Zach Osborne was a beast in the East. He never really looked to be in any danger of not winning. Youngster Austin Forkner gave somewhat of a challenge, but just couldn’t stay on two wheels or stay healthy to take the title from the reigning champion. There were a few guys that were pretty good at times, but, for the most part, they all had problems and just couldn’t hang with Osborne.
Aaron Plessinger was the best in the West for most of the season. If you had asked me prior to the season, I would have said you’d be crazy having Aaron ride West. Well, I was wrong once again. The guy who came the closest to taking this title from Plessinger was Adam Cianciarulo. AC had some worse races than Plessinger and, for that reason, came up just short on the title. However, it was really nice to see AC put in a full season and be that good.
How about Jason Anderson? Not really mentioned by anyone to win this championship. I have to admit that I am a big fan of Anderson and I wouldn’t have called him for the title, even after a few beers. But when the heavy favourites, Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, and Ken Roczen had issues, Jason was smooth and steady all season long. He was almost like former training partner Ryan Dungey, but he was just more aggressive, and had more speed. It also looked like Jason matured big-time and realized that sometimes you can lose the battle, but long-term, win the war.
A big congrats to all 3 champions and to everyone who competed in 2018.
Rockstar Triple Crown MX Tour
We are just about 2 weeks away from the start to outdoor portion of our new Rockstar Triple Crown Series. I am very excited for both the 250 and 450 classes. We have had some serious talent in our 450 class, but never this much in the same season. I honestly think we have at least 6-7 guys that can win a moto or overall on any given weekend. And for the title.. there are at least 5 guys that could honestly win it. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Wins will be hard to come by, and every point is going to count. There isn’t going to be one guy running away with the series and it should be very competitive right up until the final moto in Walton.
I also expect to see the red plate change quite a few times throughout the season. In the 250 class, I think it will be Shawn Maffenbeier‘s championship to lose. I see Josh Osby as his biggest challenger, and Dylan Wright being much much better in 2018. The guy that could be a wildcard will be Jess Pettis. Jess just gets better and better every season and I think he will be a champion, but just not this season. The top rookie battle between Tanner Ward and Marco Cannella should be fun to watch, as both guys are not afraid of hard work and seem to be handling the pressure very well.
The Women’s West Nationals kick off in Calgary, as well. The heavy favourite has to be Shelby Turner. In my eyes, Shelby is the most well-rounded, most bad-ass Canadian Woman ever on a bike, and she will be very hard to beat. The only girl with a shot is Lexi Pechout. Lexi has the speed, and probably the best female corner speed I have ever seen. The speed falls off after the top 2 pretty hard, but I’m hearing that American Brittany Gagne is kicking around her options and the West Coast might see the #265 muscling her way around the track.
Leading into the woman’s series, there have been a lot of questions and comments. Along with those, there has been a ton of bitching. I think the girls were better off being on the same day as the amateurs instead of the Pro men. It may just be my opinion, but I feel Direct Motocross gives the ladies the most coverage by far. All of the ladies, and not just the top girls. We take pride in that, but I honestly don’t know how or where we are going to find the time to cover all three classes in one day. Also, I feel some of the ladies will struggle with the rougher tracks.
OK, back to the bitching. Some riders and parents are pissed off on the price increase. Well, this is 2018. The cost of living has gone up, gas prices are through the roof, and even though prices have gone up, you are getting 200% payback. Let us stop the bitching and moaning for one quick second and open our eyes and realize that this is a new series. There will be mistakes and growing pains, but there is a series.
You have a National Series to compete against some of the best women from all over. You get to race 4 amazing tracks and have fun at the same time. Stop trying to find the bad and look for the good. I’m going to stop this minor rant right now, because too many people would get ‘butt hurt’ if I kept going and told you how I really feel.
2018 Husqvarna FX350
Before I go I would like to send out a big thank you to Allison Thompson and Marc Brunet from Husqvarna Canada for delivering a new 2018 Husqvarna FX 350. I was able to get out on it briefly Thursday afternoon, and I’m still all smiles. Keep posted for a review on it in the next few weeks.
That is it for me. Have a great weekend, and #smileforBC, #liftwithscott, and #4Estrella.
Thanks, Jeff. Every time Jeff gets talking about the Women’s series, he gets all fired up. Jeff is the guy in the Canadian Moto Industry that gives them the most coverage, probably of all the rest combined! He really wants to see the series grow and succeed. He also gets pretty excited when he talks about the “bitching” he apparently hears.
Jeff is the one who handles the Women’s Racing content on the site, for the most part, so he is on the front lines as far as having his ear to the ground. If he says there’s too much whining, I’m ready to believe him.
Hopefully, having the women race on the same day as the guys will be a positive step for the series. I have to agree with Jeff when he says it will make it that much more difficult for us to give it the coverage we want.
Running around when the races are done, trying to find the racers to do interviews with, is a bit trying at the best of times. This addition of another couple motos will make it all that much more difficult to get to everyone we want to. I’m sure it will be fine, Jeff just likes to complain about having to work so hard on the weekends. Haha
#26 Kaven Benoit Injury Rumours
Do you remember round 1 last year at Whispering Pines in Kamloops, BC? No? Well, let me remind. you. Kaven Benoit rocketed out of the gate in the first moto of the season and started to check out from the rest of the heavy hitters.
Kaven was coming back after his ugly ankle injury suffered in Germany during the winter, so it was great to see him do so well so early. Seriously, folks, he was putting on an early-moto clinic out there!
Unfortunately, after going down and aggravating his sore leg he couldn’t put it together in the 2nd moto and then they decided he’d sit out, ending his title chances.
Well, when the rumour mill started spinning about another possible injury to Kaven during testing in California, it looked like it was going to be another disappointing year for the speedy Quebec racer.
I tried to get in touch with anyone and everyone who could shed some light on the situation, but was getting nothing but 2nd and 3rd hand information. I heard things as bad as he he’d suffered some broken bones in his back!
Anyway, when Kaven returned my message, I was happy to learn that he did, in fact, crash and hurt himself, but that it wasn’t nearly the catastrophe I’d been hearing about.
“Hey, Billy. I had a little get off 2 weeks ago. Needed some time off the bike but will be ready to race for Calgary.”
Now that is some good news! This could be the summer that we put the 450 title back in Canadian hands. Hopefully, all the top players can stay injury-free with only a couple weeks left before round 1 at Wild Rose MX Park in downtown Calgary, Alberta.
Amsoil Arenacross OUT, Supercross Futures IN
I’m still not sure what to think about this latest announcement that Amsoil Arenacross will cease after mre that 30 years of racing.
In what started as a stepping stone for Supercross, Arenacross had a following of its own and was a discipline of motocross all of its own. We had AX specialists with riders who made solid careers out of the series.
Here’s the announcement and what the future will hold:
Team PRMX Owner, Julien Perrier, Podcast
Julien Perrier is the man behind the Team PRMX STrikt Gear Pelletier Kawasaki Supercross/Motocross effort. The team criss-crossed the USA racing the 250 East and some 450 Supercrosses in 2018.
I figured we’d wait until the series was over before doing a podcast interview with him, so check it out to learn how he got his start and what the future holds for this hard-working Quebec entrepreneur.
Walton TransCan ANQ at Motopark
You can check out a Photo Report from the AMO Walton TransCan Amateur National Qualifier (ANQ) at Motopark HERE.
Here’s a short video showing some of the racing:
That’s it for us for this week. Stay tuned for our Rockstar Triple Crown Motocross Tour preview podcast and lots of other stuff as we get closer and closer to the start of the Pro Outdoor season here in Canada.
Have a great weekend.