For over thirty years the Bercy (now Lille) SX has been bringing some of the best riders from all over world to race in France during the off-season. This year the big stars are Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, Autotrader.com/Monster Energy JGR Suzuki’s Justin Barcia, GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig, Monster Yamaha’s Romain Febvre, Dixon Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle and some privateer named Malcolm Stewart. Well, we’re kidding about Mookie—he’s well-known and also championship-proven, but these days he’s also a privateer, y’know?
Tonight (Saturday) was the first of two nights of racing. The track was tough mostly because of the soil. It was soft and got very rutty. There was a quad out in the first rhythm section and most of the top riders could do it until it got too rutted. After that, only a few pulled the trigger on the jump and the rider to do it the most was probably Musquin. The whoop section was pretty tough and long. The riders that figured out how to move to the inside and get on the fresh whoops were the ones that dropped their lap times.
There were two practice sessions with Musquin topping one and Barcia topping the other. This race featured Barcia’s debut on the new Suzuki RM-Z 450 and we’re still trying to wrap our minds around the #51 being on a yellow bike.
The heats featured some of the best racing of the night when Frenchman Cedric Soubeyras caught Barcia and the two swapped the lead three or four times in a very exciting race. Barcia braked early and shot over on Soubeyras to grab the lead for the last time and take the win. Earlier, Musquin won the first heat easily over Stewart.
The SuperPole competition (hot lap) was next and it was once again Musquin with the win over Stewart and Craig. There was a familiar theme starting to build for the night, and it had the #25 KTM rider playing the starring role.
The main event kicked off with Cyrille Coulon grabbing the holeshot but he was quickly passed by Musquin and the French fans were stoked about this. Barcia moved into second fairly early on and the chase was on. Craig got a horrible start and was dead last early on and eventually he ended up fifth.
Around ten laps in Stewart caught Barcia and looked like there may be a battle until Stewart’s arms pumped up. That allowed Barcia to sneak away and he started gaining on Musquin. At different times it looked like there might be a race brewing between second and third (Stewart catching Barcia) and then second and first (Barcia catching Musquin) but nothing developed. The top three gapped Soubeyras in fourth big-time and that was your finishing order on the night.
“I knew that the start would be important, and it was great to get the holeshot,” said Musquin. “The track was technical and rough for the main event, on some places you had to be careful but I didn’t do any mistakes and had a good rhythm during all the race. I’m very happy to win here, the public was so great and of course I will try to get another win on Sunday.”
It’s only night one and you never know what can happen tomorrow but right now Musquin, coming off a SMX team win with KTM as well as a Red Bull Straight Rhythm victory, sure looks good. He appears to be the class of the field although it should be noted that he’s the only USA based rider with a full factory bike, and he also started the main event in front of Barcia, Stewart and Craig. Stay tuned tomorrow to see if Musquin can grab the King of Lille title for the first time.
Results SX1: 1.Musquin (FRA, KTM) ; 2.Barcia (USA, Suzuki) ; 3.Stewart (USA, Honda) ; 4.Soubeyras (FRA, Suzuki) ; 5.Craig (USA, Honda) ; 6.Ramette (FRA, Suzuki) ; 7.Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki) ; 8.Coulon (FRA, Suzuki) ; 9.Izoird (FRA, Honda) ; 10.Mallet (FRA, Honda) ; 11.Febvre (FRA, Yamaha) ; 12.Searle (GBR, Kawasaki) ; 13.Escoffier (FRA, Husqvarna) ; 14.Boog (FRA, Kawasaki) ; 15.Desprey (FRA, Kawasaki) ; 16.Teillet (FRA, Honda)
Results SX2: 1.Richier (Suzuki) ; 2.Do (Honda) ; 3.Irsuti (Yamaha) ; 4.Bourdon (Husqvarna) ; 5.Le Hir (Honda) ; 6.Barcelo (Suzuki) ; 7.Lozzi (Kawasaki) ; 8.Kappel (KTM) ; 9.Imbert (KTM) ; 10.Aubin (Suzuki) ; 11.Hsu (ALL, Husqvarna) ; 12.Surrat (USA, Kawasaki) ; 13.Fonvieille (Yamaha) ; 14.Marrone (Suzuki) ; 15.Nicholls (GBR, Husqvarna) ; 16.Houzet (KTM)