Gautier Paulin narrowly missed the podium in the Latvian round ten of the FIM World MX1 Motocross Championship at Kegums and is now just nine points away from a medal placing in the series.
The Kawasaki Racing Team leader was one of a four-strong breakaway which dominated the first moto but, not entirely at ease on a rain-affected track, eventually settled for fourth place as a solid base for the day. Gautier moved forward from an initial fourth to second place after four laps of the second race and set his sights on the leader until he started to make mistakes and lost his rhythm, eventually dropping back to sixth place. The combined result of fifth overall in the GP was not quite up to his usual high standards and expectations, but despite a difficult day he moved closer to third in the series as many riders encountered difficulties in the adverse weather.
Teammate Xavier Boog was handicapped by an unsatisfactory starting position in both GP motos after being involved in a first corner accident at the start of the qualifying race on Saturday. Despite good starts he found himself pushed wide at the first corner each time and, despite setting good lap times on a clear track, was hampered by slower riders on the main line throughout both motos and crashed several times as he sought a way past them. He eventually had to settle for tenth overall from 11-9 moto finishes but maintained his seventh place in the series standings.
Christophe Pourcel of Team CP377 Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit battled his way through the weekend after being hurt in a mass collision at the start of the qualifying race on Saturday. Rejoining the race after a short break to recover Christophe showed resilience to run with the leaders, but the laps lost during his stop meant that he had a poor choice of gate for the following day’s GP motos and this proved to be a major handicap as persistent showers made it impossible to start amongst the leaders from the disadvantageous gate. He eventually salvaged eleventh place in the GP to retain his top three ranking in the series and remains only 35 points away from the pacesetter with six GPs remaining in the series.
Sébastien Pourcel had also been involved in the crash at the start of the qualifier but was able to continue immediately and earn a better gate pick. However the family fortunes were not favoured this weekend in Latvia and a combination of blisters and a nasty incident when he took the handlebars in his stomach restricted the elder of the two brothers to fifteenth in the GP and thirteenth in the series. It was the first time since May that he had failed to score more than 20 points.
Gautier Paulin: “I had a good feeling with the track on Saturday, but the rain on Sunday made conditions very different as there was mainly only one line. That’s not what I like, but in the second moto I still think that I could have won if I hadn’t made three mistakes when I was second behind Strijbos and lost my rhythm. Fifth is not what I was expecting, but at least I have moved closer to the top three in the standings tonight.”
Xavier Boog: “I was only fifteenth on the grid as I had crashed with Christophe, Sébastien and others at the start of the qualifying race on Saturday, and this made it difficult on Sunday. I got a good jump out of the start in each moto, but in the first corner I lost several positions as I was forced wide. It was difficult to pass after the rain and that made it difficult to find a good rhythm. In both races I crashed when I was trying to pass a rival; I’m disappointed with my results as my lap times were pretty good.”
Christophe Pourcel: “The crash at the start of the qualifying race ruined my weekend. I had pain in my stomach and had to stop at the pits; after a short rest I was able to race at the same pace as the leaders but the laps I lost in the pits meant that I only had the twenty-fifth choice of gate. From the outside of the gate it’s impossible to have a good start here, and twice I was in the pack; because of the rain there were not so many lines so it was very difficult to pass and I didn’t want to take too much risks.”
Sébastien Pourcel: “I had twelfth choice of gate despite the crash at the start of the qualifying race, but today my starts were not very good. I finished fourteenth in the first race but I had troubles to control the bike, with a huge blister in my hand. At the second start I got the handlebars in my stomach; it was painful and I was last but I was quickly to seventeenth before I crashed and had to spend the rest of the race recovering the places I had lost.”
Images by Sarah Gutierrez