Eric Perronard is a busy man this week. He lives in Florida, but
he’s straddling the Atlantic Ocean, having gone from the Paris-Bercy
Supercross this past weekend, which he helps organize, to the
EnduroCross in Las Vegas, of which he is the co-promoter. I caught Eric
on his cell phone outside the Orleans, where he was helping put the
finishing touches on this coming weekend’s big event.
Racer X: Well, Eric, it’s always a pleasure to check in with
you, but this time we’ve got two things to talk about because you might
be the busiest man in the global motorcycle industry this week.
Eric Perronard: Absolutely. I’m one of the organizers of the Paris
SX, and then this week Tim Clark and I are working on the EnduroCross,
but let me tell you that it’s been a rocking four weeks.
Well, let’s look ahead, because I have a feeling when we start
talking about what happened in Bercy, there might not be enough room on
the internet to get it all in there! How are things looking for the
second annual EnduroCross?
It’s looking fantastic! The dirt is in, the rocks are coming, and we
have a fantastic lineup of riders. I hate to jinx myself, but it almost
guarantees that it’s going to be a sold-out situation. So we only have
a few hundred tickets left, and they’ve been going quick. It’s the best
pace that the Orleans Arena ever saw for any kind of motorsports event.
It’s going to be a good weekend in Vegas, because you have the AMA
Sports Banquet Friday night, the EnduroCross on Saturday, followed by a
WORCS race right up the road on Sunday. And then, of course, Sunday
night the weekend finale with the AMA Pro Racing banquet. It must be
nice for you that those events kind of all worked out when they did.
Yeah, it’s no accident. There was a lot of work involved, and it’s
not pure luck. Yet we’re very, very grateful to have the opportunity.
At the same time, I think we bring a lot to the AMA picture as well.
People are excited to see a show and a banquet as well. It’s kind of
like killing two birds with one stone.
The Orleans doesn’t take odds on the race yet, do they?
Unfortunately not. We tried and they would not, as excited as the people were for the U.S. Open when it was under my ownership.
If you were going to set odds, who would you say the favorite is? Ryno, the defending champ, or David Knight?
I would always say Ryno because he wants to win this race more than
anybody else on the planet. His heart is definitely making up for the
lack of enduro experience compared to David Knight or an Ivan
Cervantes. Speaking of whom, I don’t know if you know, but Ivan
Cervantes won the Barcelona indoor enduro last weekend, and David
Knight won the Red Bull Last Man Standing in Texas, and Ryno won the
Lake Elsinore race. So we have three guys coming that won a big major
off-road race on Sunday!
It’s a shame you couldn’t get Andrew Short to come over from the Honda test track!
[Laughs] Andrew was thinking that it would be brutal. He was the
luckiest guy because he stayed away from everybody for the weekend in
That brings us to the second part. Andrew Short won all three main
events for the second year in a row. He’s really got a nice love affair
with Bercy and the fans, but behind him it sounds like all hell broke
|Peronnard and family on the EnduroCross track|
Pretty much. Andrew was the sunshine and it was a dark storm
everywhere else. On Friday night we had the first boxing round after
the race between Steve Boniface and Mike Alessi, which turned out to be
pretty ugly, and we had a lot of patching and fixing to do after that.
Xavier [Auduoard] was mostly in charge of fixing night one between
Boniface and Alessi. There’s no question that Boniface was out of line.
I mean, you should never punch somebody, regardless of their age or
what they did on the track. It’s not a good way to sort problems out.
There’s no question that Boniface was the one at fault, and Xavier did
a great job to make peace and allow the race to go on, because we were
really afraid that Alessi would not race the next day, because he was
really, really upset. Rightfully so.
Then comes round two.…
Saturday night, which is always the big night in Bercy, what we had
witnessed was quite unbelievable. In all of my 25 years around
motorcycle racing, I never saw anything like that, but there was a lot
of tension created by the night before. As you already know, Eric Sorby
and Steve Boniface are really good friends from when they were five
years old—they’re kind of like brothers, to a point. So it was the
Alessi brothers against the Sorby/Boniface brothers. It was a lot of
tension, and then the racing went on and during the final race,
unfortunately, Jeff Alessi and Boniface tangled up and both crashed. It
was a pure racing incident; there was no malice in it. Even Tony Alessi
agreed with me, during countless hours of talking throughout the night,
there was nothing that was planned. And Eric Sorby was just behind
those two guys and witnessed Jeff Alessi and Boniface on the ground.
And then Jeff Alessi had a pretty good pass on Tortelli and Sorby
claimed that he saw it, and that it basically drove him mad. He thought
the Alessis were taking out everybody, which was not the case, but it
was what he understood. At that point he basically blew a fuse and
decided to have a talk with Mike Alessi in the infamous Bercy tunnel.
When people see that, like Jason Weigandt and TFS wrote on their
weekend reports, there was a run-in “in the hallway,” and you talk
about the “infamous tunnel,” it’s not like they were just walking down
a hallway; they’re racing down the corridors of the stadium. So Sorby
decided at that point to …
… to have a talk with Mike, during the race! So Andrew Short was
long gone at that point and Mike Alessi was second. Nobody was in
Andrew Short’s league. Tortelli was actually the second-fastest, but a
couple of crashes and a mechanical failure kept him off the podium.
I saw the photographs on Alessi Weekly of Jeff Alessi, who was
really upset. From what I’ve heard from different people, if anything,
he pulled a Matt Walker-type move to help his brother.
Exactly. That was really where a lot of people don’t know
everything. We only had access to part of the footage, and the cameras,
obviously, were placed to show a race, not a fight. So what happened
is, I was watching the race with a couple people, including Allison
Turner, who is Alessi’s agent. And suddenly we notice a crash between
Jeff Alessi and Boniface. It wasn’t looking good. And then Alessi went
underneath of Tortelli; Sebastien just missed the turn and crashed on
his own. That was the end of his race. Sebastien told me that he missed
his brake pedal at that point.
So Andrew Short comes back through and there
is a 30-second gap and we all look at each other like, “What’s going
on?!” Then we look at the screen and we see somebody holding Sorby’s
head under his arm, trying to wring his neck—easy to spot because it
was a pink helmet and it wasn’t something that everybody was wearing!
We still had no idea what happened, because it
wasn’t filmed. Later on, we saw what happened, which was Sorby being
muscled by Jeff Alessi. Finally, a production truck was showed what
happened, which showed Sorby slow down in the tunnel at the last turn.
He waited for Mike Alessi to come, and he ghost-rode his bike into Mike
Alessi to block him. He just wanted to talk to him [laughs]. He
basically blocks the track with his bike, gets Mike Alessi to stop, and
he starts yelling at him, but of course we didn’t hear what he said.
At that time, Jeff Alessi, who was lapped
after his crash, stopped next to his brother to see what’s going on.
Suddenly the anger goes from Mike to Jeff. Meanwhile, Mike was not
stupid and realized that it was his way out, so Mike takes off and goes
back to finish second. Meanwhile, Jeff Alessi and Eric Sorby start a
regular wrestling match, and all of those things were not visible until
the next day, when we got the production crew to get all of the footage
they have and we could see that, because we really didn’t understand.
For instance, the FIM people basically excluded Alessi based on the
fact of wrestling Sorby, but they had not seen everything until the
You mean they disqualified him because they only saw the aftermath?
|Action from last year's EnduroCross. MXer Ryan Hughes took the title in the race's debut year.|
They only saw the fact that Alessi and Sorby were wrestling. And
then Jeff Alessi was so mad when he came back into the pits that he
wanted to fight with Sorby. So those two things got him disqualified
right away. But then everybody was completely taken by surprise not to
have Sorby disqualified, because nobody saw him ghost-riding his bike
and blocking. So the next day, at that point, Mike Alessi didn’t want
to race anymore and wanted to leave. We knew something was missing
because Jeff was telling us the story, but nobody saw that. So we
finally got the Federation to lock themselves in the room, and they saw
the entire story. That’s when they disqualified Sorby as well. By doing
that, the Alessi family got a relief and went on racing. After that it
was just boring racing [laughs].
Sunday must have been anticlimactic after all that!
It wasn’t as much fun as the EnduroCross will be!
Sooo….. Can you still get the Alessis to come to the EnduroCross?
[Laughs] They are coming to watch.
All joking aside, did the Alessis get a bad rap on this one?
I would say, unfortunately, yes. It didn’t help them, especially being
with French riders. It’s something that will be forgotten in a few
days, but I really wanted to state that they really didn’t do much
harm. It’s more the aftershock that was wrong. On the track, they
didn’t do anything wrong, put it that way. If Jeff Alessi wouldn’t have
been vocal in the pits after his incident with Sorby, I would’ve felt
really bad about him being disqualified for the last day. On the track,
he just ended up seeing his brother being blocked by Eric Sorby, and
hey, you don’t want to see anyone doing that to your brother.
That’s a lot to digest.
I just want to explain that the Alessis didn’t do much wrong—they
were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. If Andrew Short was
passing Tortelli like Alessi did, nobody would’ve been reacting about
it. People just want to see bad when they see the Alessis. They don’t
deserve the bad rap.
Looking ahead to next year, when is the MiniMoto SX?
The Mini Moto SX is on Cinco de Mayo, which is the day before the final
round, as always. We have a lot of excitement with Pingree and
Gosselaar and Gibson, who are all big MiniMoto guys who can’t wait to
do it again.
As far as the tickets go for the EnduroCross, what if someone reading this wants to hurry up and grab a ticket?
You can get your tickets at the Orleans Arena or www.orleansarena.com.
I appreciate it, Eric. Go take a nap.