Catching Up With Christophe Pourcel
By Donn Maeda
This season Mitch Payton has had a lot to smile about; two newborn children, new sponsors coming onboard his legendary Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, and now the chance to clinch both of the 250 class Supercross titles. With Jake Weimer and Ryan Morais holding it down out west, the eastern races have been battles by Austin Stroupe and point leader Christophe Pourcel. Pourcel made a name for himself in the World Championships, as the French rider claimed the MX2 Championship before crossing the ocean to America. In his second ever Supercross, he nailed the win at Chase Field before heading home to defend his title. But then disaster truck and Pourcel suffered a hip injury, leaving him in a wheel chair and watching from the sidelines. After healing up, he went in to full Supercross training mode, and the season was almost over before it started after a crash at the Kawasaki test track left him with a busted collarbone. But since the first race at Houston, Pourcel has been in control of the points, and can claim the championship tonight if he beats his teammate Stroupe.
Before the season started, is this were you thought you would be, in position to win the championship?
No, I didn’t expect anything, but it is what we were training for. I planned to come over and ride on the best team, and now we are leading the championship, so that’s good for us.
Has the season gone has good as you hoped, or do you think that you could have had a few better nights?
It’s never easy to stay up front on the podium. I was leading the points by a good gap, and after that we had nothing to lose. It just matters who is in front of everybody. We just have to ride good to get the championship.
Tonight, you have to beat your teammate Austin Stroupe for the title. Do you plan on going out for the win, or to just beat Austin?
I want to get the holeshot; we’ve been working on that lately. If that happens, I’ll try to win the race; I’d love to win the race and the championship. We know that we can do it; we work hard on that, so it’s up to me.
Your English has been getting quite a bit better since the first race. Is that from studying or just speaking every day?
Yeah, I study when I can. I learned two years ago from a school, but I’m improving from speaking it every day. It’s really good for me to speak English for the team and everyone, and I like learning it.
So do you understand it easier than you speak it?
No, right now it’s about the same. I can speak and understand everything; I don’t think about it in French and speak in English. So that’s a good thing for me.
You’ve had your fair share of injuries over the past few years. Does everything that was injured feel completely healed right now?
Yeah, my back is most important, and it’s getting better day by day. It doesn’t affect me too much when I ride, otherwise I‘d be crashing all over.
The Superman doll in your side of the Pro Circuit pit has been there for awhile. Is that a good luck charm?
I got it at an Amusement park, and I won the next race, so we just bring him everywhere. It’s worked this long, so we’ll keep him around.
If things go according to plan tonight, what will you to do celebrate your championship?
You never know what can happen, so we just want to get through tonight. We haven’t thought that far ahead, so come back later and I’ll have an idea.
The outdoor season is coming, and this will be your first time at the tracks against guys with more experience on them, and a few guys you raced against for the World Championship. What goals are you aiming for this summer?
I really excited about that, so with everyone the 250 class will be really competitive. Like I said, I know I have the best team and bikes, so it would be good to ride up front for them.