The Honda World Motocross team was excited to invite motorsports legend Jean-Michel Bayle as a special guest of the team at the Czech Republic Grand Prix last weekend, followed by the 2014 CRF250R European press event, in which Bayle rode the Loket track.
Bayle is famous as a two-time motocross World Champion, who was the first to conquer the Americans on their home soil, before making the unbelievable switch to road racing, and at Grand Prix level. A legend in the eyes of many, Bayle made some incredible achievements, and is one of the most successful riders of his era.
In 1988 Bayle won the 125cc motocross World Championship, followed by the 250cc class the following year. The Frenchman then travelled overseas to compete in the USA in 1990, and was one of the few Europeans to have beaten the Americans in the AMA series, as he went on to take victory in both the 250cc and 500cc classes in the outdoor national championships, as well as an AMA supercross title. Despite the critics expecting failure on his decision to switch from dirt to tarmac, Bayle raced in the 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix championships, with top six finishes and three pole positions. Bayle was also part of a winning team in the Bol d’Or and the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours endurance races.
Bayle, who rode Honda machinery for most of his motocross career, has not attended a motocross event for some time, and was pleased to see that the ‘Honda spirit’ is still intact amongst the factory Honda team. The former World Champion spent some time with rider Evgeny Bobryshev, passing on his many years of knowledge to the Russian racer, who went on to achieve a podium finish in difficult conditions during the weekend.
E2 Enduro World Championship leader Alex Salvini and factory Dakar Rally rider Sam Sunderland also were special guests of the team during the weekend, at which many journalists were in attendance in readiness for the European press event for two days following the race.
“It’s great to come back to the races and see what is going on, especially while following the team from the inside. It’s brought back for me a lot of memories of my racing days, as I was racing Honda all of my career in motocross, and it’s nice to see the spirit is still there. The bikes are nice, and fun to ride, so for me it’s been quite interesting. It’s been a long time since I’ve attended motocross events, as I’ve spent more of my time at the road races,” said Bayle.
For many the press event proved to be incredibly exciting and nostalgic, as Bayle geared up to ride the brand new CRF250R around the Loket Grand Prix track. The Frenchman demonstrated his skill and style in front of the many journalists in attendance, but it was also an opportunity for the experienced racer to point out just how tough motocross is in comparison to racing on the road. Bayle now prefers free riding his dirtbike around the many trails close to his home in southern France.
“I ride at home a little bit, but not so much motocross. I ride on the trails, having fun, so it was nice to ride at a GP track, especially with the French journalists and my friends from the past. Motocross is physically so hard, and although I still know how to ride, my body doesn’t follow so much anymore. The bikes are improving all of the time, but it’s surprising the Honda still feels quite similar to before, with improvements in different areas from the bikes I rode. The sport is evolving with new tracks, and it’s good for the show, as so many kids want to jump and there’s a lot of promotion in the sport, but the show is a lot better than in my era,” concluded Bayle.
Yesterday brought to a close a busy weekend for the Honda World Motocross squad, followed by two days at the Loket track with many riders trying out the 2014 CRF250R, which is expected to be on sale in Europe in the next two months.