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What is it going to take to stop Marvin Musquin? That question was asked frequently on day one at the Palexpo in Geneva and, unsurprisingly, we still do not have an answer. The Frenchman holeshot his heat race, but then promptly tipped over in turn two and had to navigate his way to the front on a track that is particularly tight.
Musquin was not to be deterred, however, and sliced his way through the field with relative ease before establishing an advantage of thirteen seconds. It was clear at that point that it would be a long night for everyone else in the SX1 class. Justin Brayton was dominant in his heat, thanks to the fact that he started doing the quad out of the big rhythm section, but recorded a lap time that was almost a second slower than the one Musquin set in his heat.
All eyes were on ‘25’ when the gates dropped in the SX1 main event and he did not disappoint, although the path that led him to that point was far from uneventful. It looked like he was going to take a clear holeshot, but Justin Barcia cut across him entering turn two and caused him to bobble. That incident relegated Musquin to eleventh on lap one and left Barcia in a favourable position.
Despite the fact that his times were mediocre earlier in the day, Barcia logged some consistent laps to start the main event and established a comfortable gap. Malcolm Stewart was lurking early on, but was not really close enough to attempt a pass or force the issue. That all changed towards the halfway point, however, as Stewart reacted to the advances of Justin Brayton and edged closer to the leader, whilst Musquin carved his way into the top five.
Mookie appeared to be the man on the move at one point, but soon lost a bit of drive and gave way to the two riders that followed him. Brayton wasted no time after he took control of the runner-up spot and pushed past Barcia to take the lead, but the latter retaliated with an aggressive pass that fuelled a fire within his rival. Brayton eventually claimed the lead again, as Barcia appeared to run out of steam and dropped out of the top three almost immediately. A small fall caused him to finish the race alone in fourth.
The race for the win was far from over though, as Musquin pounced on Brayton at the end of the long rhythm and ran him high. The Frenchman then protected his line on the inside of the next turn and took control of the race from there; his lead was two and a half seconds at the end. Brayton succumbed to another attack from Stewart just two laps from the end, so finished on the lowest step of the box.
Another night of racing will take place tomorrow, so the ‘King of Geneva’ will not be determined until then. Musquin is undoubtedly the heavy favourite to take the title and, if he manages it, will stand atop the podium for the third time in the last four years.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: Sean Ogden