It’s that time of the year again. The World Championships of Motocross are almost ready to start. This series has been going on since 1957.
Below are interviews with two top contenders for the title of ‘2009 World Motocross Champion’ – Seb Pourcel in the MX1 class, and Nicolas Aubin in the MX2 class.
This year’s opening round is in Faenza, Italy, March 29.
by Geoff Meyer
Sebastien Pourcel interview
When walking back to the Kawasaki team truck after scoring just five points in the opening round of the 2008 MX1 World Championship Seb Pourcel was a lost soul. With his head slumped he showed no sign of emotion and looked every inch a beaten rider.
Indeed, the Frenchman more or less booted himself out of championship contention with that dismal five-point haul, and prior to the race he appeared shaky and nervous. Had he been a boxer you would have expected him to get knocked out in the first round, and in some ways he did. If ever a rider seemed broken, it was Seb in Valkenswaard.
But then, Pourcel doesn’t look like your archetypal tough motocross racer. And when you talk to him that feeling is exaggerated even further. He comes across as just a nice, mellow, softly spoken kid that likes to have fun. He has a good sense of humour and, because of that, he is popular in the GP paddock. But he doesn’t have that enigmatic air. That ruthless edge. Without wishing to sound derogatory, and I really don’t mean this in a bad way, but he is just, well… quite ordinary.
But behind that Mr Average exterior lies a much more complex character. Deep down there’s an alter ego within Pourcel that hates to be beaten, a side to him that loathes to surrender. What’s more, he works very hard at his craft. And he’s an intelligent racer, a thinker. Yeah, without doubt there are two sides to the eldest sibling of the famous – infamous in some parts! – French family.
Fortunately, after that result in Holland things eventually picked up for Seb in 2008 and he demonstrated the kind of pace that marks him out as one of the title favourites in 2009. Having said that, he’ll need to work on his consistency.
You see, after his result at Valkenswaard he didn’t fair any better at round two in Belpuig, when he scored zero points in the rain shortened Grand Prix of Spain. He soon pulled himself together, though, and blitzed to victory at round three in Portugal. He then bagged more moto wins at round four in Bulgaria, round five in Italy, round seven in France (two), and suddenly moved within fighting position of series leader David Philippaerts, only to score just ten points in Sweden, 20 points in Belgium and zero points once again at the final round in Faenza, Italy.
So the speed is there, it’s just the consistency he needs to work on if he wants to seriously fight for a world title. We asked him some questions.
Q: At times in 2008 you looked like the fastest guy out there, and in the middle of the season you had some great results. Why couldn’t you get it together earlier in the year?
A: I crashed too much and made too many mistakes. I think I can be more consistent during the championship this year, though. I was just making really silly mistakes last year, but I can fight for the title this year for sure.
Q: Did you feel the pressure a bit last year, did it get to you?
A: I think I had pressure, but it was also difficult… I mean, [maybe there was] too much pressure and I didn’t know what to do? We also had the difficult times with what happened with Kevin [Strijbos] in the team, which caused a few problems. Kevin was not with the team that much, and when Kevin was not around it was difficult, it made for a bad atmosphere within the team. It was difficult at the beginning when the relationship was bad, everyone was nervous..
Q: Who do you think will be up there this year?
A: Everybody will want to be world champion, and you know there are ten guys that are all capable of winning, which means that your motivation is high, because we all know we can win the championship. I mean, even this year Philippaerts was the best, but he didn’t win that much, he was the most consistent, but he didn’t win as many races or GPs as me or [Jonathan] Barragan. It is going to be so exciting this year, and we also have guys like Cairoli, and of course Vuillemin. I think Cairoli can win GPs. I think also Ramon, De Dycker, Philippaerts, Mackenzie, Strijbos, Coppins … there are a lot of good riders and I have to be consistent and on the podium every time, then it will be good at the end of the season.
Nicolas Aubin interview
Young Fenchman Nicolas Aubin is considered in many peoples eyes as one of the favorites for this years World MX2 championship. The 20 year old finished third in last years title chase behind US bound Tyla Rattray and Tommy Searle and is you look at the next in line theory then Aubin is the man to take the title. He doesn’t see it that easily, and of course it isn’t. Behind Aubin are a bunch of young, hungry riders who also want a piece of the MX2 winners trophy. Aubin is very much a rider who depends on being aggressive and riding with confidence.
Just like his hero Mickael Pichon if it goes well, then anything is possible, but if there are problems, he can struggle and lost concentration.
We sat down with Aubin during the winter and this is what he told us.
Q: Nicolas, despite finishing third in the world the 2008 season didn’t really seem that good for you. How did you feel about it?
Aubin: Last season was better, I finished in third place, and in 2007 I finished sixth, so last year was my best season yet. I didn’t win a Grand Prix last year, and while my result is better, I had trouble in the middle of the season. I was tired physically and mentally, maybe I worked to hard in the winter of 2007/08. For for or five races I was really tired and I needed to recover from that. In the middle of the season my results were really bad because of my condition.
Q: What race stood out for you last year, no GP wins like in 07, but some consistent results at the end. The MXoN must be up there is it?
Aubin: I really enjoyed Lierop, in the sand. that track is really hard and all the top guys spend the winter in Belgium training in the sand, me I stayed home in France, but for me that race went really good. Also in the Motocross of Nations on the 450. I like to ride the 450 and I train a lot on this bike. In the middle of the season when I didn’t feel good I was riding the 450 a lot.
Q: This year and no Cairoli, Rattray or Searle. What does that mean for you?
Aubin: I want to win the title this year. I think I am good with pressure, but I don’t know for sure when I lead the championship, but I don’t have pressure, many people say I am the leader, but many guys are fast, Osborne, Frossard and Simpson, those guys are also fast, but I won’t have pressure on me.
Q: You are one of the nicest riders to watch when you are riding well?
Aubin: I like riding with fun. I like to whip the bike and enjoy it. If I don’t have pressure and I am relaxed then I will ride like that, I will make nice jumps for the crowd and for myself that is also more fun. If I am having fun I can ride better of course.
Q: Two years ago you got your first GP win, and really rode well at the Grand Prix of Czech Republic. Why did you ride so well there?
Aubin: Loket in 2007 … I don’t know why I beat Carioli. I didn’t feel that great all weekend, it wasn’t like I felt like I was going to win. The practise on Saturday wasn’t that good, then the warm-up was ok. The first moto I finished second behind Tony (Cairoli), but I had so much arm pump in that race. I wasn’t that far behind him in the first race, but I had problems with my arms. In the second moto I thought I could win, if I don’t have arm pain then I can win easily. I didn’t have problems with my arms and Cairoli made some mistakes, and I won.
Q: This years calendar is going to be a good one for the GP riders, a lot of nice circuits. Do you have some favorites?
Aubin: I like nearly all the races for this year, some really nice tracks, I don’t like two or three circuits this year, but that isn’t a problem. Loket isn’t really my type of track, old track, I don’t know why I ride good at that place. No jumps and the ground isn’t that good. I like to ride aggressive and you can’t do that on a slippery track like Loket, you have to use more throttle control and be careful, so I am surprised I do well there.
Q: When will you move to MX1, maybe in 2010?
Aubin: I don’t know yet, maybe 2010, I am 22 in 2010, but the new rule is I think 22, or 23 minimum. I don’t know what I want, if I do a good season maybe I want to go to America. I want to try that one time in my career, and if I try I need to go quickly. You can’t learn Supercross when you are 24, it is too late. For me I can ride Supercross okay, like in Bercy I don’t have experience, and against the American riders it was difficult. I think with the US tracks being bigger, I can do okay.
Q: What is your best thing in racing, in general?
Aubin: I can be world champion, I think I don’t have a big advantage anywhere. I am not a calm rider, I am like Mickael Pichon was, if I am ok, I can race fast, but if I get impatient, and be aggressive, then I can get in trouble, and then I make mistakes and make a crash or make a mistake.
Q: How can you fix that, how can you make it better?
Aubin: I need to change everything a little bit, my physical, maybe with getting older also helps. I need to be more professional and more focused. If I am more relaxed and everything is okay, then I can get the results for sure.
Grand Prix of Italy – Faenza – Entry List
5 – NAGL, MAXIMILIAN – GER – Red Bull KTM
6 – COPPINS, JOSH – NZL – Yamaha Monster Energy
7 – BARRAGAN, JONATHAN – ESP – KTM Silver Action
8 – LEOK, TANEL – EST – Yamaha Red Bull De Carli
9 – DE DYCKER, KEN – BEL – Team Teka Suzuki
10 – MELOTTE, CEDRIC – BEL – Cas HON
11 – RAMON, STEVE – BEL – Team Teka Suzuki
12 – VUILLEMIN, DAVID – FRA – Bud Kawasaki Racing
14 – DE REUVER, MARC – NED – Team Martin Honda
15 – BILL, JULIEN – SUI – Aprilia Racing
16 – NOBLE, JAMES – GBR – D Suzuki
17 – SWANEPOEL, GARETH – RSA – Kawasaki Racing
19 – PHILIPPAERTS, DAVID – ITA – Yamaha Monster Energy
20 – ARANDA, GREGORY – FRA – Kawasaki CLS
23 – KEMPELIS, FILIPS – LAT – Honda Latvia Elksni
24 – CHURCH, TOM – GBR – CCM Racing
25 – DESALLE, CLEM – BEL – LS Motors Honda
28 – SALVINI, ALEX – ITA – Husqvarna Factory Tecno
32 – PRIEM, MANUEL – BEL – Aprilia Racing
37 – KRESTINOV, GERT – EST – KTM Silver Action
45 – LEONCE, LOIC – FRA – JK Racing Team APR
46 – DOUGAN, JASON – GBR – CCM Racing
56 – VAN VIJFEIJKEN, ROB – NED – Yamaha Van Beers Racing
57 – NEUGEBAUER, FILIP – CZE – Kawasaki Pfeil
74 – STEINBERGS, IVO – LAT – Honda Latvia Elksni
75 – WOUTS, KEVIN – BEL – Shineray MX Team China
77 – TERREBLANCHE, SHANON – RSA – Sturm Racing Team KAW
90 – POURCEL, SEBASTIEN – FRA – Kawasaki Racing Team
100 – STRIJBOS, KEVIN – BEL – Team Martin Honda MX
111 – LEOK, AIGAR – EST – TM Racing Factory Team
115 – CAMPANO JIMENEZ, CARLOS – ESP – Yamaha Van Beers Racing
122 – TIVEDDU, ANTONIO – ITA – A.E.S. MX Team
211 – MACKENZIE, BILLY – GBR – Cas Honda
222 – CAIROLI, ANTONIO – ITA – Yamaha Red Bull De Carli
3 – AUBIN, NICOLAS – FRA – Ricci Racing YAM
4 – SIMPSON, SHAUN – GBR – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
5 – GONCALVES, RUI – POR – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
7 – SWORD, STEPHEN – GBR – Team KTM UK
13 – MONNI, MANUEL – ITA – 3C Racing – Yamaha
14 – PHILIPPAERTS, DENY – ITA – 3C Racing – Yamaha
17 – CLERMONT, JASON – FRA – Nouvelle Generation Sport HON
21 – GAUTIER, PAULIN – FRA – Kawasaki Bud Racing
22 – BOISSIERE, ANTHONY – FRA – KTM HDI Mx Team
23 – TONUS, ARNAUD – SUI – KTM HDI Mx Team
25 – MUSQUIN, MARVIN – FRA – Nouvelle Generation Sport HON
27 – SCHIFFER, MARCUS – GER – KTM Sarholz Racing Team
30 – KLEIN KROMHOF, CERIEL – NED – KTM – CKK – van der Haar MX Team
33 – SOUBEYRAS, CEDRIC – FRA – MD Racing Team YAM
34 – ROELANTS, JOEL – BEL – KTM Factory Junior Team
36 – BONINI, MATTEO – ITA – KTM Silver Action
37 – TEILLET, VALENTIN – FRA – KTM Factory Junior Team
39 – GUARNERI, DAVIDE – ITA – Ricci Racing YAM
44 – KOJIMA, YOHEI – JPN – Teka Suzuki Europe
45 – NICHOLLS, JAKE – GBR – Team KTM UK
47 – LEURET, PASCAL – FRA – JK Racing Team HON
56 – BOBRYSHEV, EVGENY – RUS – Yamaha Van Beers Racing
64 – VONGSANA, KHOUNSITH – FRA – SRS Racing HON
69 – AVIS, WYATT – RSA – SRS Racing HON
81 – TARROUX, JEREMY – FRA – Beursfoon Suzuki MX Team
85 – MUSQUIN, MICKAEL – FRA – MD Racing Team YAM
89 – VAN HOREBEEK, JEREMY – BEL – KTM Factory Junior Team
91 – KARRO, MATISS – LAT – D Suzuki
95 – JUSTS, AUGUSTS – LAT – Honda Latvia Elksni
119 – POCOCK, MEL – GBR – UTAG YAMAHA.COM
121 – BOOG, XAVIER – FRA – Teka Suzuki Europe
131 – MICHEK, MARTIN – CZE – TM Racing Factory Team
153 – MADDII, MARCO – ITA – Maddii – Racing
175 – LARSEN, NIKOLAJ – DEN – Beursfoon Suzuki MX Team
183 – FROSSARD, STEVEN – FRA – CLS
202 – LARRIEU, L – FRA – Ricci Racing
335 – VERBRUGGEN, DENNIS – BEL – LS Motors Honda
338 – OSBORNE, ZACH – USA – UTAG YAMAHA.COM
501 – LUPINO, ALESSANDRO – ITA – Yamaha Red Bull De Carli Team
519 – ROMBAUT, LOIC – FRA – Kawasaki
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