The Bercy Supercross, held within the confines of the popular Palais Omnisport arena, is certainly one of the highlights of the off-season. In the cold winter months, we are all desperate for some kind of racing to sink our teeth into, as there is a lack of action. However, Bercy fills that void perfectly, hence why the event has such a large following.
Amazingly, this was the thirty-first edition of the Bercy Supercross. In that time, the promoters have played host to a lot of top riders, hence why the event continues to prosper, even in the difficult economic times. Of course, Bercy is in the rear-view mirror for another year. So, now seems like the perfect opportunity to look at the riders that thrived (and struggled) in France this past weekend.
Justin Barcia: When Justin Barcia announced that he would be returning to Bercy this year, I was both excited, and intrigued. After all, he caused quite a stir when he was last at Bercy in 2011. Interestingly, this year was no different – he once again brought a lot of excitement to the arena. But despite being overly aggressive, the American thrived in the tight space, once again. Justin did not always put himself in the best position to win, but despite this he pulled through more often than not; he made some questionable passes along the way, as well.
I can understand why Trey Canard would be angry after the aggressive pass that Justin made in the second main event, on Saturday night. It was probably too aggressive, especially when you consider that the two are teammates. It was only an off-season race too, which does not mean anything in the grand scheme of things. So, I can understand why Dan Betley (the Muscle Milk Honda team manager) was a bit skeptical about the aggressive racing. It shows how desperate Barcia is to win each time he is on-track, no matter what the situation is. Right now, Justin seems to be one-hundred-percent, which is an exciting prospect with Anaheim 1 not too far away.
It is actually quite surprising that he is so fast on the tight Bercy track. Justin Barcia is known for being an aggressive rider – he revs his bike, and puts it wherever he wants to. You would presume that this style would not work at Bercy, but clearly it does not hurt him. In the final main event, he kept making a mistake in the hairpin in the tunnel, which was clearly a result of his style. But, on the other end of the scale, his corner speed in the stadium was unrivalled. Specifically, I loved the way he entered the whoops; he was on the pegs with the bike lent over, his technique was amazing.
Trey Canard: Trey Canard will get overlooked when most reflect on what transpired at the Palais Omnisport this past weekend. However, he was actually really good on each night – I think this was the best that we have seen him ride all year. Although he did not spend much time on top of the podium, he could have won the overall with a bit of luck. If Trey had protected the inside line in the final turn in the second main event on Saturday, he probably would have won the whole thing! Canard was ill on the first night, which is worth noting, as he was still competitive, despite this.
It was impressive to see how strong Trey was in his first appearance at the Palais Omnisport; we have seen how difficult it is for a guy to get accustomed to the tight Bercy Supercross in the past – it is so different to anything else that the riders have done in their career.
Gautier Paulin: In my opinion, Gautier Paulin was the standout performer in Paris, as he kept close to the established AMA Supercross contenders throughout the weekend. In fact, Paulin was undoubtedly better than both Wil Hahn, and Cooper Webb – he was also just as good as Andrew Short. It was not too surprising that he was competitive. After all, Gautier has shown that he is a good supercross rider. Remember when he competed in the opening rounds of the 250SX West series in the USA back in 2010, and finished sixth at Anaheim 2? He is clearly capable of running up front inside of a stadium.
Although Paulin missed the overall podium by a single point, he did exceed the expectations that most had of him – the highlight was undoubtedly a Superpole win on the Saturday. The event was also a great debut for him, and his team, with Monster Energy as a title sponsor.
Wil Hahn: In 2012, Wil Hahn made his first appearance at Bercy, and struggled. Wil admitted to this, stating that he found it quite hard to get used to the tight track. Unfortunately, it was not much better for him this year; the Geico Honda pilot failed to achieve the results that we know he is capable of once again. Although some would be quick to question his speed going into Anaheim 1, you have to remember that Bercy is unique. Hahn is quite lucky that he is leaving the Palais Omnisport without any injuries, as he had two big crashes over the three days. Although he is beaten up, he will be fine soon enough, thankfully. When you consider the problems that he encountered, seventh overall was a pretty good finish. Of course, the highlight for him would have to be a fourth on night one.
Cyrille Coulon: At Bercy each year, there are always a handful of French riders that surprise the established supercross riders. In the past, Cyrille Coulon has been a standout performer more often than not. In 2012 he finished sixth overall, which shows just how fast he can be. However, he failed to impress this past weekend, strangely – he finished a lowly fourteenth overall. In fact, he only qualified for the main event once (on the Friday). Cyrille is one of the riders that make a living from racing these European Supercross races, so Bercy is really quite important to him.
Valentin Teillet: Bercy was an important event for Valentin Teillet, I believe, as it was one of his last supercross races before he attempts to tackle some AMA Supercross rounds in 2014. However, Valentin was not too impressive this past weekend; he ended up eleventh overall, but he had to go to the LCQ on some nights. Of course, Teillet was at a disadvantage; he was one of the only riders on the smaller 250f, which hindered him in the whoops, and also off of the start. Although the results were not as strong as he would have liked, he certainly proved that he has the skill set required to thrive inside of a stadium. But, we all knew that anyway; the Frenchman is a very technical rider.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Bercy