Interview: Tom Vialle reflects on his first year racing in America and compares AMA/MXGP tracks
Tom Vialle despite being French made his Paris Supercross debut this year and was solid on his Factory KTM. He didn’t have enough whoops speed to challenge Jo Shimoda over the weekend but second overall after both nights of racing was solid and he knows what to work on ahead of the 2024 Supercross season.
After Paris, we caught up with Tom to discuss the event and his first year racing in America.
Listen or read below:
GateDrop: Tom, after a year racing in America was it nice to be back racing in France again? Obviously you had the MXoN but this was a different style of racing…
Vialle: It was pretty nice to race. It was the first time for me here racing in Paris. I have been watching a lot but the first time racing here. It was pretty cool, I had some fun. On Saturday, I had a crash in the first moto so I didn’t start the night really good but I improved the whole night. Today, was better as my riding was a little bit better but I need to improve some stuff on the track and also on the bike. That is why we are here, to test the bike and also myself so it was a good training for me.
GateDrop: Just on your first racing in America, first of all how did you adapt to moving to America bringing your whole family there? You are obviously used to GP’s living in France/Belgium during your time as a GP rider but being based in America. Do you enjoy living there?
Vialle: Yeah, I enjoy a lot living there. I’m getting used to it now so I really like it. Supercross was tough at the beginning of the year, obviously I never raced or rode Supercross in my career before so it is only my first year. Right now it’s only one year that I have raced Supercross and it is way different. I am getting a little bit better but I still need to improve in the whoops so I am going to work on that this year to be ready for next year.
GateDrop: I think if you reflect on your first AMA Supercross season, I think in terms of your speed you can probably be happy but like you say, the whoops and if you get better in them then there’s no reason why you can’t challenge?
Vialle: For sure. I mean around the track I am one of the fastest or close to the other guys but I need to improve my whoops. This weekend I made some good passes but I need to be more consistent on the whoops, that is really where I need to work. I do some good passes 1-2 times but then when I messed up a little bit I lost a lot. In Supercross when you lose like half a second or one second, it is a lot and tough to make it up again. I need to work on that this winter.
GateDrop: Just on the AMA Nationals, I think the big difference between them and MXGP is 1 day v 2 days. In MXGP you get a full day to learn the track if you don’t know it whereas in America you get two 15 minutes session and everyone is pinned. Those guys obviously know the tracks really well so I think your biggest challenge was learning the tracks?
Vialle: For sure, learning the tracks, I mean in Supercross they change them every week anyway but yeah, the Nationals, they will be way better for me next year. I will already know the track(s) so that will be a big help for me next year.
GateDrop: Do you enjoy the AMA Nationals tracks? They’re quite a bit different to MXGP where the tracks are rough and technical so you need to be smooth whereas in America it is very intense!
Vialle: It is way different. I mean the intensity is way higher and actually the tracks for me are more rough in the US than at the GP’s. I mean when we went back to Ernee, the track was kind of flat. I have been racing for four years in Europe so I know everything, the tracks are way more different. There’s way more ruts in the US and the bumps are sometimes bigger…
GateDrop: Lommel (laughs)…
Vialle: Yeah, but Lommel is a different kind of track, sandy. I just talk about the normal track. I mean I didn’t talk to Jorge (Prado) about it but I have seen he has been speaking a lot that the GP’s are way more tough than in the US. But I just want to say come on, I have been racing in Europe for four years and I know it is pretty rough over there. We can’t compare, the speed is higher but the tracks are also tough and I am sure if Jorge comes to one outdoor that he will say the track will be rough with a lot of ruts and some big bumps. Sometimes we don’t even see that in the GP’s to be honest, just to finish on that, sometimes in GP’s, the dirt is really hard so it’s very different, it is tough to ride but in a different way. In the US, there’s a lot of traction but with big bumps and big ruts, it is way different and to be honest more rough than the GP’s. We cannot say the tracks are flat in USA and they’re way more rough in the GP’s, that is really not true to be honest.
GateDrop: At the same time, Southwick, a rough sand track, you showed you were the man that weekend in tough conditions…
Vialle: For sure. I mean if you race Lommel, it is the toughest track of the year. For example, Southwick which is the track I won at this year, is not as tough as Lommel but I just talk about hard pack track and normal tracks. Sometimes they get really rough to be honest.
GateDrop: Was it nice being back in France racing the MXoN at Ernee? What a weekend, just amazing for team France and you almost won the second moto outright on your 250cc, unreal!
Vialle: At Ernee, the dirt was just like a European track to be honest, it gets really hard pack, not so much ruts or bumps. It was a normal GP track that I am used too so I was feeling good, It was a great weekend and it was nice.
GateDrop: Just on the future, do you just take it one year at a time, or do you see your long term future in America? Or could MXGP be an option?
Vialle: For sure, I take it one year at a time but I want to stay in the US, yes.
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Images: Kevin Frelaud/Daily MX