News 8 May 2024

What led to Team Solitaire's strong rides in Denver?

A double top 10 finish in Denver for the satellite team was a welcomed sight.

What constitutes a win at the end of the night is different for every rider and team. For the Heartbeat Hot Sauce Solitaire Yamaha program who saw their riders Cole Thompson and Robbie Wageman finish P7 and P8, respectively, in Denver, the night was a big success as it was one of the best combined results for both of the team’s riders ever. That strong showing is a product of continuing to build with both riders throughout the season to get them comfortable and build their confidence up to a level where they feel they can contend.

Image: Octopi Media.

For Wageman specifically, he’s seen many years of how the program operates. While eighth place wasn’t Wageman’s personal best result of his career, he still was more than satisfied with his performance and more so the team on what was a very solid night for the program.

“From the second we came off the track, the whole crew was down there, and it was a special moment for us,” said Wageman. “This is my fourth year I believe with the team. Obviously, I was on a different team last year, but this is the best finish overall with two guys for the team. It was pretty awesome to go 7-8. Unfortunately Cole beat me [laughs], but it was an awesome night. Even all day, the first qualifying session we were eighth and ninth. We never seem to get away from each other really, but it was just a great day and a great night for me as well. I’m taking all the positives from it.”

In Thompson’s case, it was his second top 10 finish of the season in a race where he felt much more like himself. Thompson has landed inside of the top five at Monster Energy Supercross races before, so he’s no stranger to the solid result, but this one came with a bit more of an appreciation for seeing him and the team build to this level together.

“Overall, it was a cool night,” said Thompson. “I’m pumped for the team, they deserve this. They work hard and all year we’ve been close to this. We had good heat races but then did not put it together for the main event. We’ve had good qualifying and then not for the night show. So it was good to put everything together tonight.”

Image: Octopi Media.

A catalyst for both riders upping their game may be due to the conditions of the track in Denver. Thanks to warmer temperatures, high winds, and no moisture, the track was very dry and slick all day long. Those conditions are perhaps favorable for a program like Solitaire who base their operations in Arizona and have specifically always raced 250SX West as a team.

That familiarity to soil like that can pay off when it comes to setting up a machine, especially when many of the rounds haven’t been that way this season due to weather. It helps as well with Wageman being from California that these conditions are ones that he frequently trains on every week.

“I actually really enjoyed the track here,” said Wageman. “It was a bit tight and hard packed like it is in California. So, these conditions tend to suit me pretty well and I felt really comfortable all day on my bike.”

Image: Octopi Media.

With a strong race like the team just had in Denver, spirits are high that both riders can make it into the 250SX East/West Showdown in Salt Lake City. And Thompson is even keen to do some damage in that race to make up for the results he felt he should have had throughout this year.

“As far as results on paper, far off,” said Thompson of what he thinks of his season. “There were rounds early on that were obviously mudders and stuff, crashes, like everyone goes through, and your confidence takes a blow. For me, I was down and doubting myself showing up on the weekends and when you start to doubt yourself in a field that’s really tough, it’s tough to overcome. I’m slowly building back to what I feel like I can do on a bike still. Yeah, I’m older but I’ve raced with some of the best out there. Tonight show that for me. For sure the season hasn’t gone as planned, but we’re ending strong, and we’re going to take that momentum and build into Salt Lake City next weekend.”

Image: Octopi Media.

While the focus has been at the front of the 250SX West Championship, and rightfully so, don’t forget that teams like these are also constantly trying to improve. A night like Denver where things seem to click on all cylinders can be a big step towards getting results like that on a more consistent basis not only for the riders, but for the team as well.