The 2023 Houston Supercross was full of supercross debuts throughout the 250SX class and several of them proved they belonged from the first gate drop. Three of such riders were Red Bull KTM’s Tom Vialle, Honda HRC’s Chance Hymas, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Talon Hawkins who each finished seventh, eighth, and 11th, respectively. Vialle even led the main event for a little while and had Hymas behind him in second which put the spotlight on both of them right away. Hawkins did a great job as a last-minute call up to fill in for the injured Jalek Swoll as he progressively got better all day long.
We caught up with all three of them at the end of the night to ask them what they thought of their first real time under the lights.
Tom Vialle | 7th in 250SX
We asked you on Friday. We know you’re a good starter. What were you going to do if you got out front and lead the main event? And look at that, you did it. So, just kind of take me through those first couple laps and what it felt like leading.
Tom Vialle: Yeah, pretty crazy. I had a great start. Hunter [Lawrence] also was next to me on the start, and he pushed me a little bit and then he went wide in the second corner, and I could pass on the next corner. So, I was first into the first lap. Was pretty nice. Pretty exciting. I like to be first. I think I led like, two or three laps, I don’t know. And then Hunter passed me. Was nice to lead a few laps. Then I was behind him. He was a little bit faster, especially in the whoops. I was losing a little bit in those whoops. And then I was losing like maybe a half second every lap. And Max Anstie passed me and then I was actually pretty comfortable behind Max. The rhythm was good for me. Until five laps to go, I think I just missed the rear brake and then I went out of the corner. Feel a little bit disappointed. Of course, I think I could have done and finished P3, I think. I was pretty okay physically also. Just a small mistake. I’m going to learn a lot from that. The day overall was good from practice to the night. Was my first day of supercross. So, I don’t know. It was pretty exciting. I had a great start in the heat. Finished P3 in heat, so it was pretty good. And I was riding P3 almost all the main event. So, just need to improve a little bit and not crash in the next race and we will be fine, I think.
Obviously, the result isn’t what you wanted but are you at least happy with getting it out of the way and feeling what it’s like to run up front and getting all those take-aways for next week?
Yeah, sure. Like, I’m not hurt. I have nothing. So, it was a lot of experience. It was the first ever supercross I’m riding. So, it’s a lot new for me. To be honest, it’s not easy. Coming from the GP, I rode motocross for all my life. It’s only been three, four months since I started supercross. So, I’m pretty happy I didn’t scare myself actually. I was okay. I had a crash in practice in the whoops but was pretty slow actually. So, it was really fine. I didn’t have like a scary moment all day in the rhythm on the triple, so it was okay. I’m pretty happy overall from the day.
Was there something that stood out or surprised you today that you maybe didn’t expect that you’re looking forward to cleaning up for next week?
Yeah, I need to work a little bit on the whoops, I think. That will come, I think with the time. I don’t want to rush it too much and have a crash in the whoops or something. I want to take a little bit of time, and we will see each weekend if we can improve that. And otherwise, on the track I felt quite okay. I think the speed on the track was pretty similar to those guys in front. So yeah, I think a lot of small things. I learned a lot from the day from the practice to the night, and that will be better, I think, each weekend.
In terms of the track breaking down, was it something that it was a little bit unique to adapt to? Because obviously in the main event, the whoops also kind of got cupped out as well. So, how hard was that?
Yeah, the whoops were quite actually pretty flat on the top, but really like destroyed actually. It was pretty tough. Some ruts into it. For the heat race, it was pretty good actually. I had some fun in the whoops. I was pretty okay. For sure for the main, it was tough. But it wasn’t too bad. Like, I struggled a little bit in the practice. In the practice it was pretty sketchy, and into the main was better.
Chance Hymas | 8th in 250SX
Well, pro debut, at least in supercross. Just kind of take me through the emotions of today and how it felt to get through one whole day of this.
Yeah, it was good. I mean, it’s been a long time coming for me. It wasn’t a for sure thing for a while, but once it was for sure I was like, man, I was ready to go. Just get the first race jitters out. I’m not going to lie to you. I was pretty, not nervous, but I was just, like I had butterflies. I was just ready to go. But just to get that all out of the way it was cool. And to get the experience, it was unreal.
In the main event, you get to start up front and kind of see that lead pace a little bit. Then it seems like you maybe lost the tow a little bit. Just kind of take me through what it felt like.
Yeah, I started, I thought I had the holeshot. Got a little throttle happy in the first corner and almost slid out. But I was behind Hunter and Vialle, and then Hunter went off the track and I passed him like, I don’t know how many more laps I got in me but I’m going to at least go for it. And I got close and unfortunately, I didn’t get it. But I kind of just blew myself up in those five laps and I kind of tanked, but I just backed up about halfway. I came back together and just put some more consistent laps down. But I don’t think I took a breath those first four laps. But no, honestly it was so much fun.
You’ve done Futures, so you kind of know how this program feels and works a little bit to a degree, but what was a standout that was a little bit different today that’s something that you’re excited to work moving forward?
For the Futures, obviously we’ve got the expansion in the daytime program and even at Salt Lake where we got to race in the night show. There’s so much to it, just the fans and everything. But the nutrition part of it, like you’ve got to keep eating. And you just have to be on top of it. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re thinking about it, but it’s so hard to eat, especially between the heat race and the main. Like, I’m trying to get food down, but I can’t eat. But it’s such a different… You don’t know until you do it. And it’s like you can think you know how it’s going to be, but you don’t know until you do it.
With eating, is it like nerves related? Like you just don’t feel like eating or something?
I don’t know. I think, for me, I’ve always just struggled eating a little bit between riding. But I think it’s just like, I wouldn’t say it’s nerves. I think it’s more just like you have such an adrenaline rush and you’re still kind of tapering down. At least for me it’s like eating thirty minutes between a moto, it’s hard for me. But I tried to. I got a banana down, that was about it.
Coming into today, I’m sure you had some goals or some boxes that you wanted to tick off. How many on those lists of things that you wanted to accomplish today do you feel like you actually did?
I had two goals. I wanted one, to get a good start, and two was not to crash. I crashed in qualifying, one crash. But that was it. I didn’t really have any expectations. Like I said, you don’t really know until you get here. So, I was like, I just want to get a good start, run up front and where I finish is where I finish. But I mean, I finished eighth, I qualified eighth. So, third in my heat race, I’m not bummed about it.
Going back to free practice really quick, you were third overall after free practice. I don’t know if you knew that at all. But is it kind of like weird to see your name up there just kind of mixed in with all those guys that quickly?
Yeah, it’s weird, especially being up on that. Obviously free practice, it doesn’t matter, but it’s cool. Hunter being up there, and then Thrasher. I’ve raced Thrasher a lot racing amateur stuff. But it’s cool. It’s cool seeing your name up there actually in the real deal.
Lastly, we know that you’re going to do select rounds, or at least that’s the plan for right now. What does the next couple weeks’ schedule like?
Through Daytona is probably what we’re planning on right now, and we’ll just reevaluate after that and see what the plan is.
Talon Hawkins | 11th in 250SX
Just kind of decompress from the day. Take me through from start to end. How you felt, how you progressed, and what you think of your first day as a pro.
Talon Hawkins: Wow. That was a very fun-filled day. That was crazy. Everything is just so go, go, go. Super-fast, super short breaks. So, I didn’t have time for my heart rate to rest, really, because I was just so, “All right, next thing, next thing, next thing.” That was a super cool experience. I ended up eleventh in the main and I’m super pumped. I came into this with goals of getting straight into the main. Did that. I came in with the goal of getting… I said top ten is winning the main event for me. So that’s like a win in my book. So, with eleventh place, that puts me on the podium in my eyes. Obviously not actually, but I’m super pumped with how I rode. I know what I need to work on now. That’s a good start, and I know where to build from there.
I know, like you said, your goals, you laid out that you wanted to get inside of the top ten, but it seemed almost like you built each session. You found a little bit more comfort. Would you say that that’s a fair assessment?
Yeah, it’s very true. I definitely got a lot more comfy as the day went on. So, obviously a big point to work on. Obviously, there’s so much good to take from that, but now I need to work on getting up to speed faster and just being in the moment and just turning it on.
Obviously, this was a little bit of a last-minute call up with Swoll going out. So how mentally prepared for it were you for this moment? Because I’m sure it was pretty fast and rapid trying to get ready for it.
Well, preparation, I just tried to treat it like any other race. This is any other race to me. Obviously, a little bit more pressure and nerves than any other race just because it’s not amateurs. But I tried to just turn my head off and just forward.
Was there anything that surprised you today then? Or just stood out that was like, “Wow, I didn’t expect that?”
One thing I didn’t expect, obviously I came in knowing that these races are intense, that intensity was unbelievable. The intensity right off the gate. As soon as the gate dropped, all the guys’ intensity; that was nuts. That was something I can’t even describe.
Lastly, going from Futures last week to this week, were there some things that you took away from Futures that you like carried into this weekend that you wanted to clean up from last week to this?
Yeah, I definitely had a lot to clean up from last weekend. I just needed to keep my head in one spot and just ride my race and not worry about who was behind me. And I feel like I did a pretty good job of that. I wasn’t looking back as much. I was more focused on what I was doing. And I rode, I hit my sections, I hit my marks a lot more than I did last week.