Supercross is arguably the most attractive part of our sport, as the bright lights and intense action tend to attract both fans and sponsors alike. It is hardly surprising that, with that in mind, the two ‘international’ European indoor events that run through the winter are looked at as highlights on a schedule that is otherwise full of traditional motocross circuits.
Paris-Bercy, now appropriately named Paris-Lille, occupies a spot in the record books as one of the most prestigious individual races. Geneva is smaller, but still recognised as an event that is worth taking note of also. Our statistics show that these races are still relevant, but, as technology makes the world smaller, could they be losing their appeal?
I would argue that is not the case, but some events have lost their spark. A European supercross is quirky, you could say, as the floor space is much smaller than what would typically be used in the United States and no rider would consider one of these events a priority. It is a great opportunity to please international sponsors and collect valuable knowledge, as well as a nice sum of money, hence why various champions and former race winners have remained loyal. Growing schedules on both sides of the Atlantic have threatened to make things more difficult though.
The programme at Paris-Bercy used to include elimination races and various other unique features, which created its spark that is mentioned above. The night shows now adhere to what is considered ‘normal’ in the USA, however, and fans only get to see the best of the best duke it out across thirty-one laps. That works in the United States as stakes are higher; promoters benefit from a star-studded field and a longer track that is much more technical too. Should there even be a direct comparison? An event like Anaheim 1 is not even comparable to what you would find in Europe.
I would argue that fans have started to compare the two worlds since the Paris-Bercy event was moved across to Lille. When the Palais Omnisport played host to the event, fans were almost right on top of proceedings. That experience is not replicated anywhere else in the world. Now, however, half a stadium is used and the fans are not as recognisable, as they are seated a little further away from the action and spread out.
The track is much more normal also, as no hallways are used to extend it. Holes start to appear when you list these things and, although you may be weary to call it worse than what it was previously, it is certainly different now. Those factors mentioned there are what made Paris-Bercy so special, in my opinion, and why it was much more recognisable than Geneva. Now it is more of the same, so fans may be reluctant to support both.
Perhaps that is why another change of location could be on the cards? A setting similar to what has been used in the past could inject some excitement back into the event. Then, suddenly, Geneva is again the only opportunity to see these riders on a more traditional supercross track. Arnhem could be considered an alternative too, although I’d be reluctant to state that it is in the same league as Geneva and Paris-Lille. Poor promotion and a sub-par turnout from riders led to numbers that were incredibly disappointing.
The Monster Energy SMX Cup is obviously an intriguing thing to chuck into the ring here, as that was extremely different and boasted a superb entry list. Fans refused to support that too, despite all of that, although viewing figures around the world suggest that the appeal was there. It’ll be most intriguing to see if Geneva this weekend produces the same electric atmosphere that it has in the past, as it would be a nice reminder of what a European supercross has to offer.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: Monster Energy