Pre-Race Report: Paris-Lille

Insight following press day.

Insight following press day.

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It is hard to believe that we have endured just two weeks of the tedious off-season, as it seems like an eternity has passed since we last witnessed elite riders take to a track in anger. With that in mind, the thought of a jam-packed weekend has most fans salivating. The second annual AUS-X Open has a lot to do with that, of course, but that will end before the weekend has really begun for most outside of the Australasian continent.

That is where the Paris-Lille supercross, typically referred to as Bercy, comes into play, as a handful of stars will take to the reasonably-sized circuit over the next two days. A move to the Stade Pierre Mauroy just twenty-four months ago, following thirty-one years at the previous location, has allowed promoters to open up the track somewhat and create something that is closer to what you’ll find in America than anything else that Europe has to offer. Admittedly you could still refer to it as a glorified arenacross, but there are options for riders in the lengthy-rhythm sections.

A handful of the American-based riders were tripling onto the tabletop at the end of the section that followed turn one, which would undoubtedly be the fastest line, but stepping off proved to be difficult. There was no lip on the tabletop, hence why that was so awkward, but that means you could just jump all the way over the tabletop and then single into the banked berm. That will more than likely be too much of a stretch though.

The next section, which features a traditional triple, actually caught Romain Febvre and Fabien Izoird out on press day. The former had onlookers on the edge of their seats and was lucky not to crash, as he over-jumped the obstacle by a considerable margin. Why did that occur on such a stereotypical jump? The face was quite steep and abrupt, for whatever reason, so it is possible that he misinterpreted it on the first lap of his session. It seems that a considerable amount of modifications will take place before the main programme gets underway, as reports suggest that feedback has led to the whoops being made rounder also.

Justin Barcia, Marvin Musquin, Christian Craig and Romain Febvre were among the riders who had an opportunity to check out the track, so do not be surprised if they are quite dominant in the first practice session. Malcolm Stewart is also present, but did not get to ride during the press event due to unspecified bike problems. Geico Honda helped Stewart get to Arnhem three weeks ago, hence why he ran their graphics there, but this weekend he is riding a Seven-backed CRF450 that is similar to the one he piloted at the inaugural Red Bull Straight Rhythm. With all of those riders set to do battle, you are probably finding it difficult to pick a favourite.

It may not be as hard as you think, however, as a lot of the contenders have encountered some upheaval in recent weeks. Justin Barcia has not had long on the Suzuki and is riding something that is quite far from what he’ll have at Anaheim 1, Christian Craig has stepped up to a CRF450 for this event that’ll mark his return from a leg injury, Malcolm Stewart is on a bike that is mostly stock and Romain Febvre has been testing motocross a lot recently. Marvin Musquin, however, is on the same programme that has taken him to countless podiums this year and has been pounding out the laps on a supercross track for quite some time now. Would you bet against him?

Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: Sean Ogden

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