Interview: Tom Vialle – Many are talking about me for the title!

Red Bull KTM’s Tom Vialle has a tough lineage to maintain. The Austrians boast no less than eight different world champions in MX2 since 2004 and have missed out on title success with their 250 SX-F only four times in that period. They have won all-but-one MX2 crown since 2010.

Understandably KTM are top heavy for 2020 with the axis of Cairoli, Herlings and Prado in MXGP so the MX2 programme falls largely on Vialle’s shoulders for what will be only the French youngster’s second season in Grand Prix. His teammate, Rene Hofer, will be hoping to gather even a slice of the 2019 ‘Vialle rookie effect’ that led to seven podium results, a maiden victory and 4th place in the world. Despite his inexperience (but undoubted potential) Vialle is one of only two riders in the 2020 MX2 pack that knows what it is like to win a GP.

From the status of being an unknown ‘gamble’ for KTM in ’19 Vialle now needs to cope with another level of expectation…

So, a different season ahead…

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Totally different and I keep seeing it [a reminder], even on social media. It’s a big step. Last year I still hadn’t done a Grand Prix and had no idea of where I could be in MX2: top ten? Top five? One year later and many are talking about me for the title! It’s a really big step but I know I have the speed and I was pretty strong in many GPs, especially at the end of 2019. I had a good winter and I feel good on the bike. I want to win as many races as possible but I don’t want to start-off too crazy, I want to stay calm and to see how the championship is going.

You were not over-excited or too down in the tough moments during 2019; you seemed to take everything in your stride. Can you envisage keeping the same mentality?

It is a new challenge now and the approach for the season is really not the same as last year. I’m not someone who usually gets stressed though so I think I will be OK.

You must have fully assessed 2019. What did you want to improve for this year? 

At the end of last season my level was pretty good and I was fighting with Jorge. It is difficult to improve the speed much more, so we have worked a lot physically to improve the last ten minutes of the race and to be stronger. I’m also looking at the championship in a bigger way. In 2019 it was a bit up-and-down for me and I guess that’s normal in a first season but I need to be more consistent. To be honest we have not talked much about goals for 2020; we just made a plan and followed it as much as we could this winter.

Your starts were good and your race-rhythm also when you were with the leaders but there were some motos when you dropped back, so what was the weak point?

Some riders have different rhythms. There are some that start fast and drop down and others who are the other way around and I had to discover that in 2019, both for myself and of the other guys. I felt that was one way I improved every race; my knowledge of where to go and what to do.

Interview: Adam Wheeler

Pic: Kévin Frelaud