Pourcel Perfect for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki at Unadilla
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel celebrated his birthday a little early at Unadilla in New Berlin, N.Y. as the now 21-year-old rider sprayed his victory champagne after dominating both motos for the overall win. Pourcel now carries a six-point advantage to the next round. His teammate Jake Weimer also had a good weekend going 3-3 in the motos for third overall and was named to Team USA for the 2009 Motocross of Nations. Austin Stroupe returned to action after being sidelined at the second round, finishing a strong sixth in the second moto and 12th overall. In the 450cc class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Gareth Swanepoel, made his big bike American debut in style going 7-6 for sixth overall while Timmy Ferry went 11-7 for 10th overall.
Pourcel put together one of the best rides of his storied career just one day before his 21st birthday at Unadilla. The French rider won both motos by more than 20 seconds and truly dominated on the track. Pourcel has battled stomach issues most of the year and wasn’t feeling great before the race started, but he put all of that behind him once the gate dropped.
“You have to wait for your day sometimes,” said Pourcel. “And today was my day. I didn’t feel very good before the race so all I did was focus on my race. I don’t need to feel good before the race. I just need to feel good on the bike.”
Weimer showed he is still a force to be reckoned with in the 250cc class as he rode two calculating motos to finish on the podium.
“It was a solid day,” said Weimer. “I got two good starts and I was right there up front. I rode better as the motos went on. It wasn’t a spectacular day, but I put in two good rides to be on the box.”
Coming to America
With just one day of riding on the Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450F, Swanepoel looked very comfortable on the bike, getting good starts in both motos and riding two strong races to finish just outside the top five.
“I’m pumped to come over here and do a good job,” said Swanepoel. “I would have liked to done a little better. It’s pretty cool because I finished sixth overall today and finished sixth overall last week at the grand prix. It was a good race for me.”
On the Mend
Ferry continues to make good progress with his recovery from a broken heel in March. After missing most of the outdoor season, Red Dog looked to be his former self as he rode through the field and got faster as the motos went on. An early crash in the first moto put Ferry back in 36th place, but he fought his way up to 11th by the checkered flag. In both motos, Ferry was one of the fastest riders on the track in the last 10 minutes of the races.
“Today was really positive,” said Ferry. “I finished tenth, but I rode a lot better than that. I went down on the first lap of the first moto. In the second moto I lost about 10 spots when I went off the track. I think I had the speed to be in the top five. It is good. I felt normal out there and ran some good lap times. I can still improve, but I feel good and love racing on my KX.”
Back in the Battle
Stroupe returned to the track after a pelvis injury in early June with an up and down race finishing 12th overall. In the first moto, Stroupe was forced into a mistake that put him off the track and out of the race. He recovered strong in the second moto finishing sixth.
“I’m happy to be racing,” said Stroupe. “I rode really well. I just got forced into a mistake in the first moto when another rider came into me. Overall it was good for me to race and I think it was good for the team too.”
Between the two motos, the AMA announced Weimer would be part of the 2009 Motocross of Nations team traveling to Franciacorta, Italy in early October. Weimer will compete in the MX2 class and has some big shoes to fill as Ryan Villopoto has won the class the last three years aboard a KX250F.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Weimer. “I’m super excited to be going to Italy and racing there again. I rode a supercross there in 2007 so I have a little experience. I feel really privileged to be chosen and I can’t wait to go over and do a good job.”
With the season winding down quickly, Pourcel is looking to be patient at the final three rounds. With a six-point lead in the title chase he knows the championship battle will go all the way to the series finale at Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Penn.
“I’m just going to go one race at a time,” said Pourcel. “I’m going to go out and try to win the motos, but I don’t want to make any mistakes.”
West Bound and Down
Swanepoel traveled from his home in Belgium on Tuesday for Saturday’s race. Once he landed, he drove to upstate New York for a quick ride at a local track on Thursday. Jet lag wasn’t the only thing he had to fight as the hot and humid weather made for two long motos.
“It is tough to travel so far for a race,” said Swanepoel. “Luckily I got over the jetlag pretty well and it helped that my KX450F was so good. My biggest problem was the heat. It may not have been hot for most of these guys, but compared with what I’m used to in Belgium, it was hot.”
Getting it Right
Pourcel’s KX250F looked like he was riding on rails around the track thanks to some rigorous testing during the two week break. Pourcel and the Pro Circuit team were able to dial in a perfect suspension setup for the rough track giving the French rider what he needed to stand on the top step of the podium.
“We tested a lot during the week to get the suspension right,” said Pourcel. “We didn’t make any changes on the bike this weekend. I just took it easy on the bike and picked good lines to get a good finish. It was really good to go that fast.”
Ready for the Long Haul
Despite the long layoff from competition, Ferry showed his “Red Dog” style at Unadilla by getting stronger and faster late in the moto. Endurance is typically one of the last things a rider gets back after an injury. However, Ferry’s hard work and experience paid off as he passed more than 40 riders in the two motos.
“After being off for so long I was a little surprised by my endurance,” said Ferry. “Typically I’m strong, but after being off the bike so long I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t know if my fast laps at the end were endurance, or just adrenaline. I really dug deep because I wanted to finish as high as I could.”
Traditionally, Unadilla becomes a slippery track during the second motos, but this year, a change in the dirt compound made for a better, rougher track. By the second 250cc class moto of the day there was hardly a smooth section on the very fast layout.
“It was gnarly out there,” said Stroupe. “Even though this was just my third outdoor race this year, I know this is the roughest track of the series so far. There wasn’t a single section where you could relax, even just for a second.”