5 Minutes With... Christophe Pourcel

An hour after a day-long test session with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki race team at Glen Helen Raceway, 2009 AMA Supercross Lites East Champion and 2009 AMA 250 Motocross Christophe Pourcel sat in a conference room in Corona, California, and stared at a large photo of MotoGP star Valentino Rossi. He looked impressed. Coming off shoulder surgery, in shape and back on the bike after a two-month hiatus, Pourcel was in good spirits and happy to be in California.

Racer X: Christophe, what have you been up to the last few months?
Christophe Pourcel: I’ve been working on my tracks at my new house.

Your new home is in Florida, correct?
Yeah, it’s in Orlando.

Do you ever see any dudes like Dungey and Tedesco and Stewart around?
Not really. I’ve just got my place and I do my tracks in the jungle [laughs].

It is like a jungle down there, huh?

Did you spend any time during this off-season back in France?
I got my surgery for my shoulder - I got the plate taken out of my clavicle - and it took me six to eight weeks to get back on the bike. Now I’m 100 percent, and I just started to ride on Friday.

So you’ve just started testing then?
Yeah, I’ve got a 2009 and we’re just testing everything. We’re testing pieces from the 2010 bike and just trying everything. Everything is good. We’ll get the 2010 and then that’s it.
Will you be testing here in California with the team quite a bit?
Yeah, I’ve been here for a few days, and then I’ll go back to Florida and ride my tracks and everything and the team will send my stuff over there. I’ll come back here when I need to.

How do you feel about your 2009 season?
Everything was pretty good. I liked working with the team. They are people I like to work with because you just get on the track and work and do your job and try to win races. They work a lot for you. I mean, everybody in the team, not just Mitch [Payton] and your mechanic, but everybody around. I just have to fix my stomach right now and all the pain that I got from it this year. I was not feeling good before the races.

  • Pourcel won 13 of 24 motos in 2009.
  • Christophe marches to his own beat on race day.
So you had stomach problems in 2009?
Yeah. I can’t control it because of my accident. [Ed. note: The crash happened at the Grand Prix of Northern Ireland in 2007. Says Russ Stratton, Pourcel’s business manager, “There’s a nerve center on your spine that goes to all your internal organs, and when Christophe has stress it triggers the problems.]

Did your stomach bother you all summer?
Yeah, all the time. I could only eat a few apples before a race. Anything else would make me sick.

We didn’t hear much about that. Did you purposely keep the problem quiet?
I told the team that I didn’t feel really good, but I’m not going to tell them what I ate or whatever I was going to do before a race. I’d tell them before the race. I told them that whatever I do in the race, I don’t feel good. If they wanted to believe me or not, it didn’t really matter.

Winning the supercross title, was it a dream come true for you?
Yeah. The first race was just the best one because I came back from nothing.

That’s right. After you broke your sacrum in Northern Ireland in 2007, it took you sixteen months to return to the starting gate. A few weeks before, you told me, “I will ride like I can go. If I can go really fast and win the race, I will try to win.” Still, it sounded like you weren’t quite sure what would happen at your first race back, but you won.
Yeah, I worked a lot for that. At certain times I didn’t even know if I would be able to get back on the bike. So it was just amazing to win. And then after that everything went pretty good. I just worked for everything and I was happy to get it because I worked every day for it. The first race was just a big surprise.

Beginning with the very first moto at Glen Helen, you were just amazing in the 250 Motocross Championship. Did you expect to do so well?
I expected to be better than what I did, but my stomach pain just didn’t make it work, so I rode the way I could ride and that’s it. So I wasn’t that good. In some races that I was feeling good, the team was really happy because when they saw me while I was training, they were like, “Wow, he’s fast.” But then at the race, I couldn’t even make it. The pain in my stomach just unbelievable. So I didn’t have big expectations. I was sad about what I did. Because when it’s rough I can just breathe and get my style on my track. It was even better for me.

In watching you race, it’s like you can almost see things before they even come to you. Does it all come that naturally to you?
You get used to it. I wasn’t like that, but then I got better. Then I had my big accident and then you can see everything from me so differently. I was not the same way. Usually, when I was in the races, I never crashed or whatever. I just used my style to get the speed and I never crashed. That’s the best way to do it.

  • Dungey and Pourcel put on a great show at Steel City, but Pourcel wishes Dungey had raced a little harder.
  • Pourcel has one more year aboard a 250F.
You also seem to see different lines and places to go on the track. Is that something that you notice that you’re doing?
Yeah, I know what I’m doing. I just have to be smart on the track, and that’s what I’m trying to do all the time. I don’t want to go fast because I have to go fast. I want to go fast because I want to find the right line and everything and I around the bumps and all the stuff like that. That’s why it’s motocross.

Your engine let go at Southwick and essentially cost you the National Championship.
I wasn’t mad. I was like, “I’m still walking out of here.” You get some bad times sometimes. It wasn’t my championship. It was Dungey’s championship. He rode good, too. I didn’t give it up, but I had to let him win. I tried to do my best, but fate didn’t want me to win. So I wasn’t mad at all. I was like, “Just take it.”

You smoked everyone at the last race of the season at Steel City. Did that race mean a lot to you?
I was just trying to ride with Dungey, but he didn’t want to ride with me. He was just scared about something. He knows me. He knows I’m not going to do anything. I just wanted to ride with him because we had not ridden much together all year. He was pretty fast on the track there, but didn’t want to race with me. I was like, “If you want to show me who is the best because you’re going to get the championship, then show me. It’s the time right now. I’m waiting. Let’s go.”

What are your goals for supercross?
I just want to try and win the races, and we’ll see for the championship. I just want to be ready to go and win. That’s it.

Marvin Musquin rode very at the Motocross of Nations. Do you know him at all?
No. I’m here in the U.S. all the time, so I don’t really know those guys over there. Pretty much all the people say he’s going to kick my ass, so I’m still waiting for that. I’m waiting for next year and then we’ll see. I think he’s riding pretty good. If he came over here, he would be in the top five, but I don’t see him winning races right away.

Did you enjoy racing in the United States in 2009?
Yeah. That’s why I’m here. I just like to be here.