It is a unique experience to attend the Paris- Bercy supercross. It has a different feel to even an AMA supercross or MXDN that’s for sure. In short it is a race any dirt bike fan has to visit at least once in their lifetime.
The crowd and the noise are the main factors. When Gautier Paulin won the Superpole it is hard to describe the effect that has on your ears! Even when JMB gets interviewed the crowd go instantly wild.
Saturday night is the most rowdy. Even a simple task of having a meal in the restaurant close to the stadium results in your ears getting a battering from the air horns inside the restaurant.
Added to that, outside the place is heaving with fans waiting to get in for the night show. Every single one of them unbelievably excited and that excitement seems to be passed onto the riders as something eventful happens every year.
This year it was the Justin Barcia/Trey Canard collision.
I spoke to Canard on Sunday afternoon and he raised his eyebrows and nodded in agreement when I suggested that the move by Barica was maybe a bit much for an off season race against a teammate. Canard admitted that he was shocked but he knows now what Barcia will do, and maybe for the US season this will ultimately be a good thing.
On the Saturday night after the collision Canard took a while to go back to the Honda pit area. Barcia was already there, sitting beside Trey’s normal seat because he had been doing an interview. Trey sat down beside him, but didn’t even look at him. Barcia also ignored Canard and then got up and sat in his normal seat in the corner.
There was definite tension after and Canard did well to keep his cool, still posing for photos for fans.
Even before there was contact these two were going at it. In practice they would look at the board after every fast lap to see if they had beat each other and if either one was on the top the other would put in another lap to beat him!
Another interesting observation was the interaction between the American riders. Canard would often be seen chatting to Hahn and Hahn would go over and speak to Cooper Webb. Andrew short would sometimes sit in with the Honda camp to chew the fat when he wasn’t going through bike set up or race conversation in the KTM section.
And then there was Barcia who seemed to have his own little corner within the Honda area and didn’t seem to interact as much with the rest of the riders. That’s not to say there was no conversation but you sensed there was a little bit more distance between Barcia and the others.
The format of the nights as far as the racing went was very good. The Superpole and elimination races are a great exciting addition and really get the crowd involved as well. The AMA supercross events should maybe implement some of these to spice things up.
The other thing about Bercy is the chance to see some living legends. Two of the greatest motocross riders in the history of the sport JMB and Stefan Everts both happily chatted away to each other in the pits. Eager fans kept interrupting them to get a once in a lifetime photo of the two greats together and both were always happy to stop their conversation and pose for the photos.
The tunnels also give a certain degree of extra excitement. Even though you can watch the riders race through in the tunnel on the big screen, there is still a sense of anticipation on waiting for them to come back into view for real. That is especially if a Frenchman is leading because then the crowd will hang over the railings to cheer them on in what is a brilliant moment to witness. It is why we all love motocross – getting behind our countrymen as they lead the biggest races in the world.
In short the Bercy experience is one you will always remember and, due to the nature of the program, even a non motocross fan will be entertained.
However, it seems the old stadium will undergo a year of renovation in 2014. It means the promoters will temporarily have to find a new venue for one year only before returning to its rightful home, but will next year’s stadium capture the atmosphere as well as the most famous supercross stadium in Europe? Let’s hope so.
Written by Jonathan McCready
Picture by Jonathan McCready