Right before the MXGP family travels to the scenic Trentino region for the first of the two Italian GPs on the calendar we sat down with Christophe Charlier. After all, the 24MX Honda Racing rider is arguably the most Italian of all French riders, and he has three Italian MX2 titles under his belt as well. So here’s what’s current in the world of CC23!
DBR: Before your current team 24MX Honda Racing, you spent your entire professional career with Italian teams, first Gariboldi Racing and than Rinaldi Yamaha. Italy has always been important for you?
Christophe Charlier: “You could say so. In motocross Italy is one of the most important countries anyway. But I like racing in Italy, they have some awesome hard-pack tracks and the tifosi are always great. I have some loyal fans there so that’s a bonus when I go over to Italy.
“They are so passionate about racing, and they get 100 per cent into it! I’m absolutely looking forward to go to Arco di Trento and Maggiora, to be lining up there with the strongest MXGP field ever is going to be special.”
DBR: What’s your preferred track, Arco or Maggiora?
CC23: “Arco for sure! The soil is very close to Corsican tracks in the summer, very hard pack, some stones… The corners can be looser but everywhere else the ground is rock hard, almost like supermoto!”
DBR: The first three GPs have been a mixed bag for you, but in Argentina you did show the speed is there. As a rookie in the MXGP class it’s all still quite new for you, what are your impressions so far?
CC23: “The first difference is the level, the best of the best in the world are in MXGP. Secondly I would say that the experience of the riders is also important. All of the guys have lots of experience of racing at the highest level, and passing is more difficult than in MX2.
“You see it in qualifying as well. In MXGP riders take less risks, the racing is more intelligent in a way. In MX2 with all those young wolves things can get pretty hairy!”
DBR: Obviously a 450 bike is another kind of animal compared to a 250.
CC23: “Sure, it’s not possible on a 450 to go full gas for the duration of the moto! Typically you’ll see the lap time drop 2, 3 seconds in the last 10 minutes.”
DBR: It sounds like a lame excuse but in a field that stacked, with very little differences between riders, settings are super important.
CC23: “Oh yes! Maybe it’s one aspect that I have underestimated a bit at first, now I fully realize how important it is. On the other hand I put a lot of hours on my CRF450 this winter so I’m pretty used to the general feeling of the bike.”
DBR: You recently started working with former world champion Jacky Vimond , who is one of the most successful coaches in World motocross, how is that?
CC23: “It’s great because Jacky has so much experience and he helped many riders reach their best level. Riders like Seb Tortelli, David Vuillemin, Josh Coppins, Gautier Paulin… I have worked with coaches before but not in this way so it’s awesome to have him in my corner.”
DBR: You are from Corsica, by its nature the island also has Italian influences. Is that the case with your family?
CC23: “It is! My grandmother on my dad’s side is of Italian descent. The mentality, the food, culture in Corsica… All of this is actually very similar to Italy. And I love Italy. In school I learned Italian so I understand the language perfectly but I don’t speak it enough! Actually the Corsican language is very much influenced by Italian as well. Corsican was about to disappear but now kids learn it in school again.”
DBR: We’ve seen on the Ruffriders video how cool your home track (Saint Antoine) is, that could be a nice setting for a bigger stage?
CC23: “Wait until you see the track now, it’s been reshaped just now. It’s amazing. My club RMCC is working really hard to step things up and it would be really nice to have an MX Elite race there *smiles*. To have a Corsican GP is something else of course, that would be a dream come true!”