At 27 years of age Christophe Pourcel is ready for one of the most important racing campaigns of a glittering if somewhat disrupted career. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Racing rider won the second evening of the recent Supercross Paris-Lille and is now braced to steer the factory FC450 in what will be his first attempt at the AMA 450SX class and also the Lucas Oil AMA Pro National 450MX Championship.
The former MX2 World Champion and double AMA 250SX East Coast winner faces questions over whether he can launch a sustained tilt at the premier class in U.S. arenas but the Florida-based Frenchman knows that a cool head will be needed to last the distance from Anaheim 1 on January 9 to Las Vegas in May. “It will take me a couple of rounds to get used to the tracks and guys [in the class],” he said at Lille. “I know for the first five races there will be a lot of fast guys that will push a lot but the championship is seventeen [races] and that’s a long way. We need to take it easy.”
After experiments with KTM, MXGP, running his own Kawasaki team, Yamaha and a revival of fortunes as part of the Star Racing Yamaha team in 2014, Pourcel has found a settled home with Husqvarna for the next two seasons. He insists the FC450 and the people around him from the factory’s base in Murrieta are the (much-missed) ingredients he needs to excel once more. “The bike is a big deal for my riding style. It needs to be very smooth and almost perfect so I can ride the way I do,” he tells. “I am not very aggressive but I carry momentum everywhere. It doesn’t look like I’m fast but I am. Husky trust me and we’ve talked and they are very happy. We are here for two years but we could also look at Endurocross or other stuff [afterwards]. Bobby Hewitt [Team Manager] supports me all the way and I have trust in him; he is one of the very few. Sometimes you have can a bad weekend but the team here still support you so much and I’ve never had that. Now I am twenty-seven I am trying to take all the positives: we are very lucky to get a free bike, lucky to get a team, mechanic and all that stuff. When you don’t have any of that then it’s expensive!”
Pourcel did admit that he came close to considering a return to Grands Prix earlier this summer and before confirming an agreement with Husqvarna. “I was open-minded and it was 50-50. I did not want to close all my doors in the U.S. I made a lot of mistakes before, like when I was waiting for my Kawi deal. They never ended up giving me an offer and [Roger] De Coster asked me to ride for Suzuki but I wanted to stay with Kawi because the bike was amazing. I lost all those deals. So this time I did not want to close anything and now I have a good manufacturer that trusts me. I always thought the GPs were good for me because it is only seventeen-eighteen rounds but I think Supercross also fits me pretty good.”