I was watching some of the race at Unadilla on Saturday afternoon with Sean Hamblin and we watched Christophe Pourcel come flying by, albeit at a seemingly modest speed, riding the inside edges of the track. Hamblin, who’s raced professionally here in the States, in Europe, and in Canada, pointed out just how different and thought-out the Frenchman’s lines were compared to pretty much everyone else on the track, including fellow European import Tommy Searle.
Later on, I got an email from another industry friend who watched the races on Allisports.com asking, “Whatever happened to line selection with these American kids?” He was also pointing out how markedly different Pourcel’s lines were, as the elegant Kawasaki rider just blew everyone away at ‘Dilla with his style and grace—and that deceptive speed!
Since Saturday was retro day, let me make the comparison again: Pourcel looks just like Jean-Michel Bayle did when he landed here back in 1989. He rides with the same fluidity, seemingly a gear taller than everyone else out there. He finds lines that no one else does, and as a result, they often stay smooth until the very end.
Yet Pourcel has been adamant that he is not a disciple of JMB’s, and that he has just developed his own riding style. Whatever the DNA of that style, it works on a rough, dynamic track like Unadilla was this weekend, and it’s what’s put Pourcel in the driver’s seat with six motos to go in this championship. Not bad for a guy who still isn’t completely over a crash that cost him 18 months on the motorcycle, still has problems with his pelvis, has shoulder surgery scheduled for September, and is seeing these tracks for the very first time.
Should he win, this will be the first AMA Motocross Championship won by a Frenchman since, well, you guessed it.