He Said / He Said – Cole Thompson vs. Jacob Hayes
By Billy Rainford
Two riders are slowly separating themselves from the rest of the field in the 2015 Canadian National AX Tour. They are doing the opposite where one another are concerned. #148 Royal Distributing Fox KTM rider Cole Thompson and #100 Monster Energy Thor Kawasaki’s Jacob Hayes are proving themselves to be the ones to beat, as they battle fiercely for this title.
Our story begins at round 2 in London, Ontario, where Thompson came up on the left side of Hayes at the end of the whoops section. When Hayes moved to take the inside line, Thompson went for it, too, and there was heavy contact between the two riders with Thompson going on to take the win.
Friday at Hiawatha Park in Sarnia,Ontario, Hayes took the opportunity to repay the favour in a 180 degree right-hand corner. The result was Thompson flying off the track and the win going to Hayes. This move set the stage for the final battle in what we hope was a best-of-3 affair.
In this past Saturday’s ‘Clash for Cash,’ Hayes managed to get out front to what appeared to be a safe distance from Thompson. As the laps wound down in the 20-lap final, Hayes hit lapped traffic and Thomson turned up the wick. The two had a huge lead over Hayes’ teammate #101 Chris Blose in third.
Thompson was finally close enough to make a pass in the same corner Hayes had slammed him the previous night, and made an aggressive, yet fair, pass to go into the lead. He looked to be gapping Hayes slightly but, instead of checking out, Thompson started to worry about what Hayes might do behind him and the game of ‘Cat and Mouse’ began in earnest.
Scarcely has such a battle of brake-checking and over-the-shoulder looking taken place in a 20-lap final. The problem with these tactics is that once they start they’re difficult to stop – give an inch on the inside and your rival has got you.
While these two played their game for the final three laps of the race, Chris Blose was quietly stalking them both. Chris Pomeroy and I (up in the Valvoline AX Tour LIVE broadcast booth) were both pulling for Blose to come in and pass them both for the win, just to prove a point.
In the end, Thompson held the inside line in the final corner leading to the last straightaway and took the win by a bike length over Hayes, with Blose a very close 3rd. They were all very cordial and even complimentary during their podium interviews with Ryan Gauld.
We went to speak with them at the end of the night to get their final thoughts on the situation. You can listen to the podcasts from Saturday HERE, but this story is so interesting I figured I’d type them out for you to read. Here is how the conversations went:
#101 Jacob Hayes
Monster Energy Thor Kawasaki
Direct Motocross: Man, a really interesting way to end the night with that Clash for Cash. We’ve got one of the favourites, he’s always on the podium. Jacob, let’s talk about a rather exciting night here in Sarnia. Let’s talk about how it went for you.
Jacob Hayes: It’s been really good to me, actually. Getting used to the team, getting used to the Canadian races, the little bit tighter tracks, the little bit quicker rhythm of racing – the turnarounds are a lot quicker than our Amsoil Arenacross races. I’m enjoying myself. You know, really getting used to the team and the bikes. Man, the Monster Energy Thor Kawasaki is unbelievable. I can’t give those guys enough credit. They’re working hard and they’re unbelievable. My Frenchie (Luc Caouette) motors are great, my Graeme Brough suspension is unbelievable and I’m just really enjoying my time here.
This track is longer but really tight. How did that make the racing?
They seem to do that in the Amsoil Arenacross. They get a little bit of a bigger floor so they try to do something creative and it ends up making it tighter for some reason. The one in London wasn’t as tight but it was shorter lap times. This one was longer lap times but twice as tight. I would like to see them make kind of the traditional style arenacross. I’ve come to watch over the years that it creates the best style racing, but tonight they did a great job with the track.
The light was a little hard to see with them coming in sideways, but I enjoyed it for the most part. Friday, I went 3, 2, 1. Tonight I went 1,1 and tried to pull the old hattrick…and it was great racing. You know, Cole Thompson, this is his hometown race here in Sarnia… (Laughs) I love it when I go race at home. You’ve got that extra rider on the back of your bike, and it doesn’t make sense, but the whole crowd behind you and just knowing that energy…you’re feeding off of it. He was riding great tonight and hats off to him and you know, I tried to pull it off but just came up shy.
OK, I’m not going to let you off that easy. It got…to say the least, it got weird out there. He messed up and then caught up…you got really messed up with lapped traffic, and sometimes it really held you up. You guys had a huge gap on Chris Blose and we were calling the race and were like, Chris is going to come up and pass both these guys while they’re messing with each other! Let’s talk about those last couple laps. How was it from behind your handlebars?
Uh, you know, just started doing really, really bad cat and mouse. I checked over my shoulder one time and I was like, wow, if I don’t mess around…if I keep messing around then Chris is going to come up and pass both of us!
We were nearing the end of the race and you know…I don’t know…I don’t really have much to say about it. It is what it is. We had words, a big meeting. They sat us down and talked to us, you know, they always say they don’t want it rough but good aggressive passing so there’s a lot of grey area. What is defined aggressive and what is defined good racing? We’re all out there racing for the win and I’ve got a contract here and Monster Energy Thor Kawasaki pays me to win races not to finish second and ride clean, you know.
Like I said, I want to go out there and win each race and if we have to go in there and just rub a little, I understand that. I would rather do that than ride around in first gear the whole track and ride like I’m riding a PW 50.
That event does have the word ‘clash’ in it so …Dash for Cashes are notorious for these but these are 20-lap races! Those last 2 laps ended up like some of those Dashes where guys do that kind of stuff. It made it fun t watch. I know you guys are going to have a chat with Justin Thompson. You’ve got two weeks off now. What do you do next?
We’re actually going straight to California from here, testing with Team Babbitts Monster Energy Amsoil Kawasaki team. The plans are to race Monster Energy Cup. I haven’t raced a Supercross. I went to practice for a Supercross and ended up getting hurt. Never raced a Monster Energy Cup, never raced a Supercross, so we’ll see how it goes.
#148 Cole Thompson
Royal Distributing Fox KTM
Direct Motocross: OK, we’re just walking along here with Cole Thompson. Cole had one of the most memorable Clash for Cashes, but we’ll get to that. First of all, how did things go in your hometown?
Cole Thompson: It was good. Like I said earlier, it’s cool to have an event in Sarnia. My brother (Justin Thompson) has been working really hard for years and then to finally have it happen and have it all come together the way it did was pretty cool. I know the track was a little tighter than he anticipated but other than that everyone had fun. I think everyone had a good weekend. I know for myself I ended up with a 3rd and two 1sts the first night, and then tonight I had a little bit of rough luck in the main events but ended up with two 3rds and put it all together in the Clash there and it was good It was a really good night for me.
I guess we’ve got to talk about that Clash for Cash. That was a heck of a thing to watch! It got weird at the end but how was it from your perspective? I mean, you were back and then you caught up and things…things happened. How was it from your perspective?
Racing with Jacob’s not like your normal guy. He’s young like me. We’re the same age, so we’re both hungry for wins and I know him being an arenacross guy and me being more of an outdoor/Supercross smooth…I don’t know, I think it was…I think our riding styles are a little different so…
I settled into a pace and followed his lines for the first 15 laps and I thought it was going to be white flag and I kind of put an attack on him and made a quick pass and then from there it was just a chess match. Literally, we were stopping in the corners. He stopped dead to the point where I had to put my foot down and I was debating whether I should shut off my bike so I don’t burn more gas and then go. No, no, just kidding.
But no, were both just back and forth, stopping and going and I think Chris (Blose) actually got close to us there at the end. We were being a little…I think it got a little too much but we’re both passionate and I know he’s really passionate and I’m really passionate to win and I think when it comes down to it, money or no money, I think we just both really want to go for wins and I just had to make it all come together there and the last lap was intense, but I, fortunately, hung on to it and got my 3rd Clash for Cash win this year so it was good to come out of here with the win.
So, not to make more of a deal out of this than we should, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the series heads west to Penticton, BC October 23-24. Both riders seem to indicate that they’d prefer to race ‘straight up,’ but when money is involved and racing is as tight as it is on these Arenacross tracks, you just never know where the night is going to take us.
Add in a few other fast, aggressive riders like Ross Johnson, Brad Nauditt, Jess Pettis and Jake Anstett, who may make the trip to Penticton and we could have some very upper-level entertainment out west! You won’t want to miss it.