It is a busy time for Gautier Paulin as the most wanted rider in the FIM Motocross World Championship paddock. The French star allegedly has factory contract choices between Honda, Husqvarna and his current Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team; his base of employment for the past two years and since he came into the MXGP class.
Paulin’s movement has large implications for Kawasaki as the company are currently shaping their Grand Prix programme between Bud Racing (for young and European Championship-based racers), CLS (for MX2) and KRT (premier MXGP category). The brand also want to hang onto British rider Tommy Searle and it is likely the 25-year-old could move into the KRT set-up whether Paulin stays or leaves for another squad.
“I would be very surprised if he [Paulin] didn’t stay,” commented Kawasaki Motor Europe Racing Manager Steve Guttridge. “I would be surprised and disappointed actually because this team has been built around him and both the rider and the team have improved together.
“They have both pulled each other on and I would say we have the best bike we’ve ever had in MXGP. Everything fits him: the ambience of the team, the mechanics and the way to work. If he did leave then it would not be down to the bike or his potential to win or even because of the rider beside him. Like I said I would be surprised and disappointed.”
One of the rumours in the MXGP paddock involved Paulin heading to the AMA to race for the U.S. Kawasaki set-up next to Ryan Villopoto. Guttridge confirmed that this scenario is unlikely: for 2015 at least. “At the moment he hasn’t got an offer,” he said. “If one of our riders wants to go to the U.S. it would mean speaking with the guys there to discuss whether that option is possible. Normally it is. If Gautier raced for us in 2015 and reached a certain target then it would be possible for him to race in the U.S. in 2016. It is step-by-step. First he would have to agree to stay and then we’d have to check with the U.S. with their plans for Villopoto.”
Guttridge also remarked that KRT could possibly run a third rider as it would be a cheaper and more practical option as opposed to offer a current or new team technical support. It won’t be the most lucrative option for a new works Kawasaki racer however. “It is quite close to happening but you will end up with massive disparities in rider salaries to make it so,” he explained. “It is basic economics. If one rider uses a lot of budget and you want to use a third then that last rider will have to take a lot less.”