The annual Paris SX happened this past weekend and as always, it had some good racing and good atmosphere going on. It’s long been the crown jewel of European off-season SX races and yet again, this year it did not disappoint. For years this race was in Bercy, a suburb of Paris, and featured an extremely tight track, one that truthfully, the 450 four-strokes had outgrown. But then the race was forced to Lille for a couple of years, which is about an hour and a half north of Paris.
The Lille race lacked the same atmosphere of Bercy (then again, just about any dirt bike race anywhere in the world lacked the atmosphere of Bercy), and with only half of the giant soccer field used (and therefore only half the seats) it wasn’t the same as Bercy. The Lille years definitely hurt this race, not to mention one year it was the same weekend as the Paris attacks, which put a pall on the whole thing. But a couple of years ago this race moved back into Paris and into a brand new arena, and although it’s not Bercy, it’s damn close. Great arena, better track than Bercy ever was, and the people are always ready to have a good time. The Paris SX is a good time and I recommend it to anyone.
Interesting to me that the promoters, some of it due to choice, some of it due to circumstances beyond their control, didn’t have any quote/unquote superstars of the sport there this year and it still turned out great. Look, Chad Reed is an icon and a legend of the sport but the days of him getting 100K for off-season Euro SX’s are over. Reed was here and so was Justin Barcia and that was it for racers who have won 450SX races. In the past this race has almost always featured the 450SX champion, the current 250SX champion or one of the all-timers in their prime. No, Ken Roczen, Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, or Ricky Carmichael ever did this race (well, RC rode practice one year and broke his collarbone), but just about every other great has. That’s the thing with the Bercy/Lille/Paris SX over the years—for the most part the stars have all raced here at one time or another.
Interestingly enough, this year featured some of the best racing that I can remember. We had four different winners in six races, and although the King of Paris crown wasn’t that close, we had some great come-from-behind rides throughout the weekend. It was seriously awesome to watch every single race every single night in the SX1 class. The format was one six-minute race, one eight-minute race, and then a 14-minute main event. All scores counted toward the King of Paris title. As I said, maybe the star power was down a bit, but no one who was there could walk away thinking they didn’t get their money’s worth, that’s for sure.
Let’s get into the results yeah?
1st Overall | #51 Justin Barcia | USA | Yamaha
3-2-1-4-2-3 = 15 total points
Barcia won his third King of Paris title and it was well deserved. He moved up in almost every race, he gave away one win (although Mookie did give it to him first so maybe that’s MX karma?), and he was very fast. Was he the fastest rider of the weekend? No, I would say that race in and race out, Mookie and Dylan Ferrandis had him covered in raw speed, but hey, you gotta be consistent over six races to win this thing and that’s what he was. I liked his ability to rip through the pack early on and he had a few riders just jump out of the way when he rode it in aggressively, even if he had no intention of “Bam Bam’ing” them. Reputation got him a few spots! I found it interesting that Justin brought some parts to bolt onto a stock Yamaha instead of shipping a bike. In the past, shipping a bike has been a big advantage for these guys but the #51 made it work. Besides, Yamaha’s do work a bit better with less HP if you talk to those who know the bike well. Yamaha also hired Sergio Avanto back to help with chassis stuff and Barcia’s been pumped on his input so far. He knows it’s a contract year for him and Yamaha is no doubt eying up Ferrandis so Barcia’s all-in in trying to get the bike to better suit him. He’s even staying in Southern California this off-season! That’s commitment for sure and this win has to be a good start for him.
2nd Overall | | #27 Malcom Stewart | USA | Honda
9-1-5-3-1-1 = 20 total points
Mookie was fast in Paris. The whoops were legit big on Saturday and he was flying through them. This is no surprise, I get it, but man was he good. He won three out of the six races and came from the back in all of them to pass for the lead. In the very first race of the weekend he crashed in the first turn (there were a lot of first turn crashes), otherwise he would’ve been King of Paris. He’s lost no speed since breaking his femur last year and when you look at his results, he surprisingly has no top five 450SX results ever. Seriously, it’s weird, I know, but he doesn’t. He’s always, of course, had that Stewart speed, but he’s never had the fitness. Well now he does but he got hurt last year. That streak will end in 2020 if he stays healthy because he’s that good. On another note, and this isn’t said to bag on James (who I always had a cordial relationship with), but how different is Malcolm to James? Mookie loves people, he’s outgoing, he jokes around, and he’s an awesome ambassador for the sport. James, brought up in the spotlight, was certainly that way at times and in private, but for the most part he wasn’t comfy in the spotlight like Mookie. This isn’t pointed out so that James looks bad, he is who he is, but just that these two brothers grew up under the same roof with the same parents and are like totally different people.
3rd overall | #14 Dylan Ferrandis | France |Yamaha
1-5-8-6-4-2 = 26 total points
If I’m honest, I thought Ferrandis would win this edition of the race. And when he caught and passed Justin Hill in main one (with some controversy I might add) I thought the weekend was going to plan. In the second main he got tangled with Joey Savatgy and both guys went down with Dylan getting a handlebar to the face. Ferrandis then crashed again in the third main. He was never really the same guy again as I’m sure he was beat up. He rebounded somewhat on Sunday but didn’t get a win (although Mookie passed him on the last lap of one race). Ferrandis might have gotten the award for the most passing points though! Afterward he admitted the meet and greets all weekend made it a bit much to focus on racing, but whether it’s Jean-Michel Bayle, Marvin Musquin, David Vuillemin, or whomever, the top French guy is the rock star at this race. Nothing wrong with Dylan’s speed this weekend but his results weren’t what he wanted.
4th overall | #6 Jeremy Martin | USA | Honda
4-3-14-1-3-4 = 29 total points
Holy crap were J-Mart’s starts ever on point this weekend! And it helped him tremendously—he won a main event and just missed out on an overall podium. Yeah, the main was six minutes plus one lap, but I don’t care if it was 30 seconds plus a lap, a win is a win and for Jeremy Martin, whose lining up for his second race in a year-and-a-half, that had to feel as good as being the owner of a strip club that’s next door to a brand new stadium being built (wait, that’s actually something that’s happening in Vegas!). Martin lacked a bit of fitness and his arms pumped up a bit but he was pretty good, better than I thought he should be with so much time off and let’s face it, before he got hurt he wasn’t exactly a 450SX specialist, you know? I was impressed with Jeremy and in talking to him in the downtimes at the race, his attitude is amazing. He might really surprise in 2020. The worst thing about his weekend was his mechanic Derek’s placement of his fork stickers. Also, I love how Jeremy always refers to “Ferrandis” as “Fernandez” over and over. It’s awesome.
5th overall| #64 Vince Friese | USA | Honda
5-4-4-7-11-5 = 36 total points
Friese led laps and was second overall on Saturday night. Let me say that again: Friese led laps and was second overall on Saturday night. Remember when he led laps at the MEC also? Yeah, for reals, Vince has shown he’s picking right back where he left off before tearing his ACL in 2019. It’s been impressive but his Sunday didn’t go nearly as well for him as his usual good starts weren’t there.
6th overall | #46 Justin Hill | USA | Honda
16-8-3-2-5-6 = 40 total points
Hill debuted his new MCR Honda ride and, wait for it, set the fastest time in Saturday’s superpole deal. Last year on the JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki he also won one night against Jason Anderson, Zach Osborne, etc. So yeah, the guy can go fast. We all know that. He got a bum deal in the first main of the weekend when he got parked by Ferrandis (in a bit of a greasy move that Dylan apologized for) when he was guaranteed at least a second. Hill was good, his fitness wasn’t where it needed to be compared to the elite dudes but, insert Mitch Payton, Tyler Keefe and Jeremy Albrecht here with, “we can work with speed.” Maybe Tony Alessi can unlock this?
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Devant son public, @dylanferrandis n'est pas au @supercross_de_paris pour enfiler des perles. Désolé @justinhill46 ☺️ #supercross #paris #chaud #dvfactory #leBigUSA #rubbing #racing #cestlacourse #ohwell #desolevieux #lafrance ? @automoto_lachaine merci @motoxaddictscom @fivegloves
7th overall | #17 Joey Savatgy | USA | Suzuki
2-10-2-5-7-14 = 40 total points
Joey’s JGR deal was literally signed before he went out for practice and we’ve talked enough about what he was going to do. Feels good to just know he’s set and signed on a factory bike, right? Joey’s second “main” was ruined by Ferrandis and him locking bars going into the first turn and both flying off the track, and in his last main he got a poop start and was working up when he crashed at the end of the whoops. Savatgy didn’t have just seventh place speed at Paris, trust me. He looked good and with more time on the bike, will be better.
8th overall| #85 Cedric Soubeyras | France | Husqvarna
8-6-7-8-8-7 = 44 total points
“Soubs” is a solid veteran at this point and is capable of being “first hometown” Frenchman at all these races. I don’t know why or how but he’s always better at Geneva than Paris.
9th overall | #911 Jordi Tixier | France | KTM
7-11-6-10-6-8 = 48 total points
I’m just glad Tixier is alive after his MEC crash, that’s all. Whatever he did in Paris is a bonus.
10th overall | #871 Fabien Izoird | France | Kawasaki
11-17-9-14-10-10 = 71 total points
Izoird will always be the guy who filled in at Monster Energy Kawasaki, got the holeshot in the 2011 Toronto in the 450SX main event, then did a fist pump over the first jump. Never forget people.
11th overall | #41 Ben LaMay | USA | Honda
10-9-12-15-12-13 = 71 total points
Ben didn’t have a great weekend in Paris and didn’t look happy after the race. He was definitely better last year. I’ve written it a ton but LaMay made every 450SX but one (when he got hurt) last year and this year, doesn’t have a damn thing as far as an offer. He told me he will probably go get a job and race local SX’s that are close to Texas. Sad!
13th overall| #3 Nicolas Aubin | France | Suzuki
13-14-17-13-9-11 = 77 total points
I swear to god, I’ve seen Izoird, Thomas Ramette, and Aubin at every damn Paris SX I’ve ever been to. Are there no French kids coming up to knock these old guys off their perches? All three of them are solid SX riders and belong out there with Izoird, to me, getting the nod as the best of the bunch. Here’s the thing though, the RM Army is strong in France with Ramette and Aubin, as they’ve been in the army forever as well!
15th overall | #22 Chad Reed | Australia | Honda
6-7-10-11-17-0 = 51 total points
Ouch, not a good score for Reed who, while we walked back after practice on Saturday, told me he hadn’t gotten much prep for this race and likened it to his MEC prep. He did have a brief glimpse of speed when he was fourth in the final practice on Saturday, but he never got one start that I noticed and he crashed out of the second main and sat out the third. He was a very popular rider all weekend in the pits and I recounted to him (and on Twitter) that the first time I had ever seen him ride was at Bercy at the end of 2001 when he cleaned out Jeremy McGrath. MC had some words for him in the pits afterward with pretty much every person in there watching it. It was the arrival of Chad Reed on the world stage and we talked about that and more in his post-race interview. It sounds like he’ll be racing on Hondas in 2020 with some help from Mountain Motorsports dealership, which if it works, will be cool to see.
Thanks for reading everyone! Good times in Paris, send me an email at email@example.com if you want to chat about this race or anything else.
Main Image: Bertrand Sanlaville / MotoVerte