Interview: Thomas Sileika – back in the Motocross world

Young Latvian rider, Thomas Sileika once showed a lot of promise, especially in the EMX125 class in the past. However, due to injuries and other factors, things didn’t seem to go his way. As a result Sileika has been out of the Motocross world the past couple of years and in fact decided to quit due to his hand being so bad.

However, Sileika clearly loves the sport and is back in the GP paddock this year. Initially Sileika was going to race the opening round of the EMX250 series at Valkenswaard as a privateer but at the very last minute got a ride with the KTM Diga Junior Racing Team – it remains to be seen if he’ll stay with them for the rest of the season but he’ll certainly be hoping so.

We caught up with Sileika on being back in the Motocross world and much more.

Gatedrop: Thomas, let’s say you disappeared a bit from the Motocross scene the past few years, why did you make this decision?

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Sileika: Yeah I kind of did, it all started with an really bad wrist/hand injury right before my home GP in 2018. I broke my hand in 5 places and the season was over. It was really rough mentally at the time for me so I kind of wanted to vanish until I figured myself out and as well rebuild the circle of people around me to see who sticks with me and who doesn’t.

Gatedrop: Away from Motocross what did you get up too during the past few years?

Sileika: The first thing I did was I got my drivers licence at the time, I was still recovering from the injury with a thought of coming back to racing, but after I got the chance to ride again my hand was still bad and I made the decision to quit racing, so I did. I went back home, which was another setback mentally of course because all the time I had the idea I would ride again and at that point it was gone. I found a job so was working, spending a lot of time with my friends, partying a lot and doing some stupid stuff basically, I really enjoyed the summer and the freedom I had. It was just a basic 20 year old life I guess which was fun but there were some really low points in that period as well.

Gatedrop: You’ve clearly missed Motocross as you’ve made a return this year – what was it about the sport you missed?

Sileika: There wasn’t a day I spent not thinking about riding but I kind of hated motocross at the time because I was blaming it for the trouble I had in life which of course wasn’t the case. Just the feeling being at the track with friends and riding, pushing yourself, suffering. the adrenalin – there’s so much things I missed so basically everything. I love riding, training, racing now more than ever and I’m having the best time ever.

Pic: Niek Kamper

Gatedrop: You got a late deal with the Junior Diga KTM deal to contest the opening round of the EMX250 series, how did the deal come about?

Sileika: Yeah, the original plan was just to show up with my friends and go race on my own, but unfortunately a rider from the team got injured on Wednesday and I got a call on Thursday evening that there was a free spot now.

Gatedrop: At the opening round of the series at Valkenswaard you had a DNF and a tenth. Where you happy with your speed considering you had so much time away from the sport at this level?

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Sileika: I was super stoked with my riding and how the weekend went. I’ve actually been riding a 450cc basically all the time and since I got the deal at the last minute, warm up on Saturday morning was the first time I rode the bike I was going to race. It was great and I adapted quickly. I was riding good every time I was out in the track. In the first moto unfortunately, I had a DNF due to a technical problem while riding in 12th and coming from the back. I got myself together on Sunday and got a 10th place finish which was super good considering everything. The biggest achievement was I had fun all weekend long and enjoyed racing like never before.

Gatedrop: How did it feel to be racing at a high level again and what’s the level like in the EMX250 series this year?

Sileika: It was awesome, the atmosphere in the paddock, all the people I saw again from the Motocross family and the whole weekend was something that no party will ever come close to. The EMX250 class is a war zone, the level is always high and every race is like the last for the riders and that’s what I missed a lot and enjoyed the most while battling with the guys.

Gatedrop: Will you stay with the Junior Diga KTM for the rest of the season or is it still to be decided?

Sileika: There is still some stuff I have to figure out on my end so we will see how it goes.

Gatedrop: What have you been up to the past few weeks as the Coronavirus outbreak has taken over?

Sileika: Pretty much I am just cycling all day long since the weather here in Belgium is good and there is not a lot to do. I bought myself a skateboard so I spend few hours everyday learning how to skate so that’s fun.

Gatedrop: What’s your goals for the rest of the season when we get back to racing?

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Sileika: We will see what races I do, my personal goal is to make a podium in the EMX250 class and should be great if I could manage to get a ride for next year. I want to have lots of fun and make some big whips at the track!

Gatedrop: Anyone to thank/anything else to add?

Sileika: A shout out to mxbrothers who hooked me up with a great facility here in Belgium, without them it wouldn’t be possible to do this. As well my as my personal sponsors for still helping me out at the time I needed it the most. Cheers to all my friend and fans at home.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Niek Kamper