The 2009 Grand Prix season kicks off this weekend in Faenza, home of the final round of the previous series. The track has been unchanged since last September, but unfortunately the weather conditions had been worst than six months ago as heavy rains came on Saturday evening and transformed the hard pack circuit into a muddy surface.
Involved in a pile up at the start of the qualifying race on Saturday, Gautier Paulin had a tough qualifying race on the sunny layout but proved his determination as he came back from last to twenty fifth with the best lap time in his pocket. He picked up a bad position on the grid, but on Sunday came among the top fifteen after the opening lap. Riding smoothly and looking for the best lines among fallen rivals in the uphills, Gautier made his way through the pack and collected the second position after thirty minutes of racing. The racing conditions came worst as the rain didn’t stopped but the 07 European Champion never gave up, and put a series of fast laps to come back right behind the race leader; Gautier made a successful move in the penultimate lap and got, one week after his first French series win, another important success.
As all the MX1 riders David Vuillemin discovered on Saturday the new MX1 qualifying rules, as the traditional timed practice session has been replaced by a qualifying race for the forty – instead of thirty – riders involved in the event. Fourteen of this race, David Vuillemin had a better start on Sunday and he was eighth just before being stopped in a muddy uphill during the second circulation. He visited the pit box, went back on the track and was twelfth when he came back in the paddock with a damaged clutch at mid-race. The World Championship will continue next weekend in Sevlievo (Bulgaria), second of three consecutive rounds.
Gautier Paulin: “It’s a great day for me, already this morning I felt comfortable on the bike and took the session easily, I knew that the race was in the afternoon. They closed the six gates at the inside after the big crash in qualification, so my gate was pretty far at the outside and my start was in the pack. I came back from seventeenth and took the lead in the penultimate lap, I won the race but I know that it will be very difficult to keep the red plate in the following GP’s. It’s a great feeling for me as last year was frustrating, I got injured and didn’t raced so much; now I’m hungry, yesterday I was so frustrated to be involved in the pile-up that I got the best lap nearly two seconds faster than my rivals, that proves how strong is my determination. Everyone in the team is more motivated than ever, but there are no secrets: we have to work hard daily, even after a GP win as all our rivals just want to beat us! For sure it will be easier on Monday to go training, it will be probably easier for the mechanics to clean the bikes and I’m glad to see that our hard work during winter time is paying now. But next Sunday in Sevlievo thirty nine riders will want to take the red plate, the season just start now. “
David Vuillemin: “The beginning of the race was not so bad, I had a pretty good start but during the second circulation I crashed in an uphill and lost time. I stopped in the pits to get new gloves, then came back in the race and saw riders everywhere, especially in two sections. You had to stop and study the lines at each lap; I didn’t do any mistake and came back in the top ten when my clutch failed. Of course in these conditions you use more the clutch, I changed the settings but that was not enough and finally I had to retire. It’s frustrating as you spend a lot of energy for nothing; I was expecting better conditions for my first GP.”
Stephane Dassé: “It’s a great day for the team, Gautier did a perfect race despite his bad qualification on Saturday. He was impressive as he took it easy and never felt nervous, it was so easy to make a mistake in these conditions. We have now the red plate on one of our bike, it’s a dream and we’ll do our best to keep it for some other weekends. Concerning David he had a good start but during the second lap he was stopped in a uphill and lost time; he came in the pit to get new goggles and posted a series of fast laps to come back twelfth, but he had troubles with the clutch and must retired.”