ICYMI | Catching Up with #16 Cole Thompson
By Billy Rainford
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.