You might be thinking: how can the rider who got third overall in the MX2 class at Ernée this past weekend go unnoticed? Although climbing onto the box at his home GP is an incredible feat, Christophe Charlier did not get too much attention, as most focused on Dylan Ferrandis (and rightfully so, Dylan had a great ride). So, I decided to highlight Christophe’s good ride at Ernée in this column. In comparison to how the rest of his season has gone so far, Ernée was definitely a bit of a breakthrough for him.
I have been very critical of Christophe Charlier thus far this year, as I personally think that he is not quite living up to the expectations that the fans, and his team have of him. I had heard a few people suggest that the Monster Energy Yamaha rider could be in the running to win a GP or two this season; so having just one overall podium to his name in eight rounds isn’t on par with what most thought he would do. I did not think that he would win a moto this year, and I still don’t. However, even I presumed that he would have more than one podium finish to his name at this point.
If you are looking at the positives though, at least he has the first one of the series out of the way. Now, Christophe Charlier knows that he can do it; so it should be easier to finish in that position from here on out – at least that is how this normally works. But remember, this was not the first podium of his career, as he finished second overall at the Brazilian ‘mudder’ last year. However some would be quick to discount that performance, as the race was a lottery, really. In many ways Ernée could be considered the first “real” podium of his career. You can imagine how satisfying that must have been for him – to jump up on the podium in his home country. But you may have not been able to tell how excited he was, as Christophe is not the most expressive rider out there.
Maybe you could argue that he was lucky to finish on the podium; a ninth and a third in two motos rarely gets you up on the overall podium. It proves just how inconsistent the riders in the MX2 class are. Intriguingly, Charlier pulled a groin muscle prior to moto one, so it is clear that he wasn’t feeling one-hundred-percent. Evidently, this hindered him more in moto one, as he finished a lowly ninth. Although Christophe started thirteenth in that race, I did expect to see him push forward to the edge of the top six, rather than ninth. The Frenchman stated that he struggled with the track, as a product of that bad start. Still, a rider of his calibre (on a factory bike) should not be finishing ninth.
In the second moto Christophe Charlier got a reasonable start (sixth at the conclusion of the first lap), and he ended up moving forward to third. It proves how close everyone from third back to tenth is in the MX2 class; it all comes down to the start. Admittedly Charlier did get a few gifts along the way when progressing through the pack, like when [Jake] Nicholls stalled his JM Nestaan KTM, for instance. But nonetheless, Charlier would have probably got up on the box anyway. Intriguingly, he had the second fastest lap time in that moto – faster than Dylan Ferrandis.
Clearly, Christophe Charlier does have the potential to get up on the podium consistently. It does seem to come down to the start for him though. Rarely is he up front off of the start; if he starts back outside of the top ten, I do not think that he is strong enough (both physically and mentally) to fight through the field. The Frenchman is one of the bigger guys in the MX2 class, which is probably the main thing that hinders him off of the gate. But if he can sort his starts out, he could be a consistent podium contender, which is obviously what the Monster Energy Yamaha team expect of him.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing