Raindrops almost turned to tears as Monster Energy’s Gautier Paulin won a scorching Grand Prix of Bulgaria in front of a crimsoned 15,000 fans yesterday afternoon. The second appointment of the FIM Motocross World Championship started out showery and sketchy across the hard-pack Sevlievo track but as race day dawned the sun cooked the masses. Paulin grabbed his second win from the last three MX1 Grands Prix and headed an impressive roll-call for Monster Energy as Chris Pourcel was the second Kawasaki rider on the podium and Tommy Searle and Joel Roelants lifted more trophies for the ‘green’ camp with a 1-3 in MX2.
Today was an emotional experience for Frenchman Paulin as the MX1 rookie gave the Kawasaki factory crew their first win since 2008. ‘GP’ went 2-1 in the two motos and shared the spotlight with Pourcel (1-2) as they both showed the rest of the MX1 pack the fastest route around the slick and dusty Bulgarian hard-pack terrain. “I knew when I signed for Kawasaki last year that we’d do a great job and we worked hard all winter for something like this,” the 23 year old offered up. “I know the championship is long but I am really happy to be here.”
On the second step was Pourcel who ‘came out of the cold’ after a tough Dutch Grand Prix two weeks earlier. His runaway performance in the first moto was line-perfect…vintage CP377: “We had a bad weekend two weeks ago so I had to get back on the box this GP,” he said. “I had a good first moto and after two first fast laps I was managing the race from there. Gautier surprised me a little bit in the second race and I didn’t expect him to go that fast. I couldn’t catch him or get the win today.”
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Full props to Tommy Searle for coming out in the second MX2 moto and keeping Dutch GP winner Jeffrey Herlings in his pocket to celebrate a first victory of 2012. The Brit suffered with a fading front brake in the first race and crossed the line third as Belgian team-mate, Joel Roelants, vanished at the front to pick up his first ever chequered flag on the Monster Energy Floride Kawasaki Pro Circuit.
No glitches for Tommy at the second bite of the cherry and he defeated title-rival Herlings to climb the top step. “I’m really happy with how it turned out,” he said. “In the first moto I lost the front brake after five laps and had to run my own race and take my own lines down the hills because I couldn’t ride inside. It was real easy to make a mistake. The second one was much better, a lot of fun, and I hope we can have a lot more like that this year.”
There was a hefty dose of bad luck however for Monster Energy Yamaha’s Steven Frossard as the French ace twisted his right knee on Saturday and now faces meniscus surgery. Frossard then enters a race against the clock to be fit for the visit to Italy next week. Team-mates on the factory YZ450Fs David Philippaerts and Shaun Simpson posted highest finishes of 5th and 9th on the board. Making his Yamaha debut and called across the Atlantic at the last minute to help with the injury crisis for the team in MX2, Michael Leib threw the 250 around the Bulgaria hills and only missed a couple of decent starts to better a decent 10th and 11th.
Next up is more hard-pack dirt for the GP guys. Fermo on the east coast of Italy will stage round three this coming weekend. Paulin posted his first ever MX1 win there as a wild-card entry last September and Pourcel also sipped champagne that day.