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Monday Conversation: Christophe Pourcel

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Despite suffering from stomach ailments before Hangtown (actually, he’s been suffering from stomach problems ever since his back injury in 2007), and despite a second-moto penalty that cost him a position, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel pulled through to win his first AMA National at the Hangtown Classic, round two of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships.

Racer X: During the supercross season, you told me more than once that you were really looking forward to the outdoors, but for some reason it was hard to imagine your riding style translating to this sort of performance outdoors. But today left no questions...
Christophe Pourcel: I felt that I was pretty fast in testing, so for me, I felt like it was pretty good for me to be fast there. Then, I just came to the races and I’m trying to have fun. It wasn’t easy for me because I got this injury [his broken back] in outdoors [the GPs], so when I end up going over a big jump in the nationals where you can’t see the landing, I’m pretty nervous about it sometimes and I try to be careful – I’m scared and I go slow at first. [Note: Pourcel’s injury in 2007 came in practice when he landed on a downed rider over a huge jump and he didn’t get any yellow flags before the jump.] But it’s pretty exciting because the nationals so far are pretty good, and they’re better than Europe, so I’m really happy.

It does seem like many of the AMA tracks are more wide-open and have a lot more space...
Yeah, and they work a lot on the track, so you can get a lot of lines and berms in the turns, so it’s pretty good for the top guys who are going to be fast the whole moto. I think it’s mainly the way they work on the track.

Your line choice is pretty amazing in being able to find the smooth spot...
I’m trying not to follow the guys and change my line, and with this dirt you have to change your line because there’s too much roost. You have to get your speed somewhere else [besides where the rider in front of you is riding], and so far it’s working really good.

In the first moto, you made a pass on Justin Barcia for the lead going down the mechanics’ straight, standing up on the pegs through the corner and just flying down a smooth lane you found. Talk a little bit about that because that style you showed there is not something we see in America very often.
The moto is 30 minutes plus two laps, so if you need to pass somebody, you have the time to pass him. You don’t have to push him out or do something stupid like that. It’s the second race and I don’t really want to lose the championship doing something stupid, and I knew this guy was pretty fast and dangerous on the track, so I tried to follow him, and I went to his inside there and I didn’t pass him there, but then I went to the outside and passed him and then pulled away. I think it’s better to do it that way.

You talked in the press conference about paying attention to who it is in front of you and changing your race plan based on that. You said that in the first moto you weren’t worried about letting Barcia get ahead because you knew he’d get tired, but in the second moto you were chasing Ryan Dungey around. What were you thinking then?
It wasn’t really good at the beginning of the moto with [Blake] Wharton, because he was in front of me, and when the guy that you have to beat is in first place, and you’re third, and you’ve got somebody who is trying to go really fast at the beginning of the moto, it’s never easy to pass them, and you don’t want to crash because that would just make things worse. You end up just waiting for something. Those guys were just crazy in the first few laps, and then the moto was basically over. I was trying to catch him [Dungey], but he was the same speed as me, so I couldn’t catch him. Plus, I didn’t really feel good before the first moto with my stomach, so I was pretty happy to get the second position and try to find my speed at the end of the moto for my confidence. I just hope to be better next weekend.

Talk about what happened when you were penalized in the second moto for jumping on the new caution flag.
They put me back to third, but how can you penalize six guys in the 250 class like that? There’s something wrong, I think, with the flag, and for me, I was paying attention because they guys were on the finish line, but there were guys on both sides of the jump, and some had yellow flags, and other guys had the new flag that’s yellow with red in it, but the thing is [given his history of injury on blind jumps], I saw all of the flags and I knew someone was down after the jump, and I slowed down, and the jump was really small, so I don’t think I jumped anyway, but I was penalized. I don’t know what’s going on with that.

Some of the races coming up are known for being really hot, so have you talked to your team or done anything to prepare yourself for that sort of weather?
No, but right now I’m waiting for my pills for my stomach – my new pills – so I’m going to try them next weekend, and it’s going to be warm over there, so it should be good to try them then. If they don’t work really good, I think I’ll go back to France and see my doctor and find out what we’re going to do about it because something’s wrong with my stomach. It was bothering me all week before the race, so we’re going to fix it.
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