Former 250 Supercross and World Motocross champion Christophe Pourcel has announced his retirement from professional motocross racing with a post on his Instagram account. Pourcel’s career was incredibly eventful, as the French rider overcame serious injuries and personal issues with some in the industry to race at the highest levels in Europe and the United States. He claimed the MX2 title of the FIM Motocross World Championship in 2006 with factory support from Kawasaki and then landed on the radar of team owner Mitch Payton in the United States, who invited the young rider to race select 250 Supercross races with the Pro Circuit team in 2007. Pourcel’s success in Supercross came almost immediately, as he claimed the main event win at the Phoenix SX in 2007 and expressed an interest in moving to the United States full-time shortly after. After his initial time in the US was complete, Pourcel returned to Europe in order to defend his MX2 title.
The 2007 season would ultimately have a huge impact on Pourcel’s career, as he battled with Antonio Cairoli through the early rounds until a crash during an MXGP race in Ireland resulted in partial paralysis through the middle portion of his body. In a question and answer segment on the Vital MX message board, Pourcel fully explained the injury and the recovery by saying, “I broke my sacrum and had the syndrome de la queue de cheval, or cauda equina in English. It means being paralyzed from waist down to upper legs, or like the saddle area. I had a big edema on the nerve where I broke the sacrum and some damage on the nerve, they opened me up and cleaned up the edema as much as they could and hope for the best. There was 80% chance that I would not regain feeling, use the restroom without help, or be able to have children. 3 month later after being laying on a bed flat, they started to teach me how to walk again, I lost all my balances. Nerve pain is one of the worst and the pain medicine was very strong. I lost about 40 pounds. I had some stomach problem because I couldn’t go to the restroom so I couldn’t eat much, my stomach was in pain every day and that was hard to deal with, every day throwing up is not a good feeling.
“My parents sent me to the best rehab center in France at Capbreton. They have doctors, therapists, and other athletes, it was a good place for me to recover. It was a painful experience physically, but mentally also. The pain meds were so strong it makes you go crazy, I would argue with my parents and have dark days. I’m really thankful for them tho, they stuck with me and helped me through it. It’s an experience that makes you never forget how lucky you are to be healthy. Once I felt better, about a year after the crash, they let me out. I slowly started to regain function to use the restroom and my balance got better and better. I remember my first time bike on the bike still using a catheter, it was crazy. but I’m thankful to have got back as much function as I have,it’ss not 100%, but its very close. I have to eat very healthy, lots of fiber and still take a daily laxative. I also have more lower back pain and less flexibility, or the pain comes quicker from certain activities.”
Pourcel spent all of 2008 recovering from the injury but returned to racing full-time in 2009 and 2010 with a contract to Mitch Payton’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team in the 250. Through the next two years, Pourcel claimed back to back 250 Supercross East Coast Regional championships yet missed both 250 MX National championships by small margins against Ryan Dungey and Trey Canard. At this time it was believed that Pourcel would move to the 450 class with Monster Energy Kawasaki, but disagreements with management at the time kept a contract from being signed. Instead, he signed with the independent MotoConcepts Racing team for the outdoor Nationals, but midway through the summer the relationship between the rider and team dissolved. With no support in the United States, Pourcel went back to Europe for a limited run in the MXGP division of the FIM Motocross World Championship
In 2014 Pourcel returned to the United States to take on the 250 class in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with the support of factory Yamaha and finished sixth overall in the championship standings. In 2015 Pourcel signed with Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna to race the 450 class in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, finished fifth overall in the championship standings, and inked a two-year full-time contract with the team.
Pourcel suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck midway through the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Series and missed a number of rounds, but returned to action for the Nationals. Another hard crash at Washougal resulted in a second fractured vertebra and these two injuries had a major impact on the remainder of Pourcel’s career. After struggles in the early rounds of the 2017 Supercross season and an obvious disinterest with the challenging tracks, the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna team pulled Pourcel from competition and then entered him in the Canadian National Motocross Championship; Pourcel finished second overall in the Canadian championship.
At one point Pourcel expressed an interest in racing off-road events such as Endurocross, but his statement today indicates that is no longer the case. We extended our congratulations to Pourcel on his career and his decision to pursue new ventures.
Well, today is the day, I am pleased to announce my retirement from racing. It's all I've ever known, but I have been so blessed and fortunate to race all around the world in front of many fans and to work with many great companies. From racing GP's, winning a world championship, then coming to America, two super cross championships, winning races… and now finding a new life here in the states, racing has given me so much. Those good times don't come without tough times, from my paralyzing accident in 2007, internal injuries, countless collar bones, to my most recent neck fractures… I've had my fair share of injuries but I'm happy to walk away happy and healthy. I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my life away from racing. I've sacrificed so much in life, things that are normal for most people, to dedicate my life to racing and training. I want to enjoy this time now with my wife, family, and friends and to say THANK YOU to all the great people and companies that have supported me throughout my career and to the fans who have enjoyed watching me race. It's been a tough decision, I know I can still be competitive but my body has said enough with the injuries!! I'm 29 and have so much more life to live. Again thank you all and see you around!! ✌🏼