Features 29 Feb 2024

Profiled: Tom Vialle

Red Bull KTM rider on his journey to a first American Supercross podium.

Words: Simon Makker

He might only be 23, but Frenchman Tom Vialle has already racked up an impressive racing resume on an international scale. And after Saturday’s third-place finish at Arlington – his first in Monster Energy Supercross – it’s very likely he’s only going to continue his rise. He features in our latest Profiled piece.

Four years ago Vialle won his first MX2 World Championship in the shadow of the global pandemic, winning seven grands prix and featuring on the podium at 14 of the 18 rounds.

Two years later, in 2022, the highly-rated KTM rider fended off a season-long challenge from title rival Jago Geerts to capture his second 250 class world title. Despite winning 10 of the 18 GPs, the title chase went down to the wire, and it was only a double-moto win at the final round in Turkey that sealed the deal by just four points.

Last year, instead of stepping up to the MXGP category, Vialle set his sights on an entirely new challenge in the United States. He transferred across from Red Bull KTM in Europe to the American team led by Ian Harrison, sitting alongside Max Vohland as the team’s 250 riders.

Image: Octopi Media.

“I really felt it was the best time for me to try and see if I could make it in Supercross,” Vialle said at the time. “I have a track near my home and there is a supercross tradition in my family. I’m desperate to see what I can do, even if I know it is a big learning curve.”

Despite the dramatic change, Vialle proved he could quickly adapt to the fast-paced schedule of the AMA Supercross Championship. At the third round of the 250SX East series – which happened to be Arlington – he logged his season-best result, coming home in fourth.

Vialle ultimately completed his first US championship in eighth, then continued to show his outdoor prowess in the Pro Motocross Championship, where he finished sixth overall, despite having never ridden most of the tracks before.

The highlight of his outdoor season was claiming his first overall victory at Southwick, where he charged to the opening moto win, then backed it up with a P3 finish in the second race.

A third overall at the season-ending Ironman round, then a classy P2 result at the first of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) playoffs in Charlotte, capped off a successful debut year in the US, before he then helped Team France win the prestigious Motocross of Nations (MXoN) on home soil at Ernee.

Image: Octopi Media.

“I think it was one of the biggest races of my life,” he reflected. “It was nice to win with the team, and I also won the 250 class, so it was the best that I could hope for.”

2024 got off to a rocky start for Vialle. At the 250SX East opener in Detroit he was caught in the first-turn pile-up that claimed almost half the field. The number 16 remounted at the rear of the pack and finished a lowly 18th.

Entering Arlington’s second round of the eastern region on the weekend, Vialle desperately needed a good result to get himself back into championship contention, but a heavy crash in practice threatened to derail his season even further.

“It was a similar crash to what Austin [Forkner] had in the main event, but I was a bit luckier than him. He cased a bit more and went to the right, while I went to the left, but I was happy to still be able to line up for the races,” he recalled.

Still feeling the effects from the crash, Vialle completed his heat race in fifth, which gave him 10th gate-pick for the main event. Despite the substandard gate choice, Vialle rounded Arlington’s first turn in fifth and put in a smooth consistent race that saw him tick off another goal of capture his first Supercross podium.

“I had an okay start from the outside in the main event and was next to Austin in the first corner, but I need better heat race results so I can get a better gate pick for the main event – that’s very important,” he said “It was a long main event – I think it was about 20 laps – but it’s amazing to get my first Supercross podium. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Image: Octopi Media.

With his first 250SX podium now to his credit, the latest emerging young French rider is now focusing on backing that performance up with another good result at the famed Daytona International Speedway this Saturday.

“I rode Daytona last year and the track is pretty cool. The rhythm is still pretty steep and tough, but it’s more open – the corners are more like outdoors,” he explained. “We’ll train this week to make the bike as good as possible for the race. I’m pretty excited to be there.”

Coming into this weekend’s third round, Vialle is 11th in the standings with 24 points to his name. However, with how tight the table is now after two unpredictable rounds, another strong result at Daytona will see him make huge strides up the leaderboard.