Rivals ready for war

Pro arenacross riders Jacob Hayes and Cole Thompson expected to have heated battle at SOEC

CANADIAN COLE THOMPSON (148) and American Jacob Hayes

CANADIAN COLE THOMPSON (148) and American Jacob Hayes

Professional arenacross rider Jacob Hayes wants to see you at the South Okanagan Events Centre Oct. 23-24.

Hayes will be competing with North America’s top riders in the Canadian National Arenacross Tour.

“It’s probably the most intense thing they will ever see,” said Hayes, who is currently among the best riders on the tour. “It’s great racing, great fun. Bring the kids out. I’ll be there all weekend, would love to sign anything.”

Spectators can meet Hayes and the other riders during the Monster Energy Pit Party from 6-7 p.m., which will also have Monster sampling for those 18 and over and pit access to meet riders.

Spectators can also be up and close to watch the heated rivalry between Hayes and Canadian rider Cole Thompson, of Sarnia, Ont. Hayes loves having fans close to him while tearing up the track.

“You can get the energy from them if you make a good move,” said Hayes, who hopes to dominate the weekend. “They get a bit more into the racing if they are right there on top of it. They can see the action. Feel it. Feel the energy as they start cheering. It’s awesome.”

Hayes and Thompson have gone head-to-head since 2004 in the U.S. as they battled for titles. Hayes, 21, who races for the Monster Energy Thor Kawasaki team, has been a pro for five seasons, said he and Thompson have had some good races. He recalled a recent moment when they were together in Canada.

“It’s funny, I told him, first weekend we came, one day we were testing out his track. ‘I always only see you in the U.S. This is the first time I have been to Canada and I am at your house,” he said.

Hayes added its tight racing, but he is there to win.

“I have been doing a bit of bumping. It’s all in good fun,” said Hayes.

“When you are both going for wins, when you both want to win so bad, it’s very competitive,” said Thompson. “I don’t think (Hayes) likes talking to me. I don’t think we’re going to have dinner any time soon. It’s one of those things where you are racing each other every weekend. You’re bumping and both going for wins. It’s not going to be friendly.”

For Thompson, it’s always a challenge facing the best. He said it’s important to race with an open mind.

“You can’t look at them as any better than yourself. You just have to put yourself in a clear state of mind wen you go up and race,” he added. “No matter who it is, whether it’s the best in the world or some local kid.”

Hayes’ teammate Chris Blose is excited for what he expects to be a very intense two rounds.

“We have tight, close races and the tracks are kind of small,” said the Phoenix, AZ resident. “It makes for really intense racing, especially for the fans. There is always a lot of passing going.”

The 27-year-old will lean on his 11 years of pro experience to get him to the finish line first. Having been in many different situations, Blose said that helps him at times.

“You also got young kids coming up who are trying to take your spotlight and be in the spotlight,” he said. “You got to use that experience to your advantage.”

It’s the first time that Blose competes in Western Canada, but he loves going to new places, especially outside of the U.S.

“It’s good to see how the people are,” he said.

On the line for the riders in the tour is a total payout that exceeds $60,000.

Tickets for the two-day event can be purchased at the SOEC Box office, by phone  at 1-877-SOEC-TIX or at ValleyFirstTIX.com for $10 (for children 12 and under), $18, $26, $36 (plus applicable service fees).