The spotlight was on France for many wrong and sad reasons last weekend but shows of strength and defiance through sport was seen across the country including the successful 2015 Supercross Paris-Lille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
The second edition of Europe’s biggest indoor off-road race within the confines of Lille LOSC’s football home saw American Weston Peick crowned ‘King of Bercy’ for the first time and in just his second visit to the popular spectacle.
The Yamaha rider headed fellow AMA athletes Christophe Pourcel and Cooper Webb on the podium after a crash-strewn programme on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Some of the best and closest action in a number of years at the event was enjoyed thanks to a quick, technical and soft track.
The whoops section was the clearest divider between European and American stars – the latter group are well drilled and trained in the supercross discipline, with the likes of Peick, Webb, Malcolm Stewart and James Stewart now only a matter of weeks away from the launch of the 2016 AMA Monster Energy Supercross campaign.
The largely French public were not able to sample much of Stewart’s remarkable skills with the older Stewart crashing on the first lap of Saturday’s Main Event and counted out of action due to an injured ankle. Younger brother Malcolm also suffered two DNFs with a broken brake on Saturday and a massive ‘endo’ flip on Sunday.
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Peick endured. The 24 year old (just days away from his 25th Birthday) took a superb win from Webb on Saturday and recovered from a poor start on Sunday to profit from tumbles involving Shaun Simpson, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Dylan Ferrandis and Webb to finish runner-up to Pourcel on Sunday.
His 1-2 scorecard was the best from the bunch. “Obviously we came over here to win but it was a ‘play it safe’ kinda race,” the JGR Yamaha representative said. “The track was super-rutted-out and crazy. I didn’t go over my head and those others crashed. It was a bummer for them but I stayed up and got the King of Bercy. I’m stoked on the performance.”
Ferrandis was fast and feisty on the KX450F but was punted out of commission by Stewart in the first Main Event and then somersaulted off the end of the track early in the second on Sunday, fortunately the MX2 Grand Prix winner was unhurt. “I was really looking for a good result in the main event but I just touched the last whoop at a bad moment and went over the bars,” said Ferrandis. “It was a big crash. I lost a lot of time and I’m really disappointed as I could not show my speed and potential.”
In seventh and cheered throughout the weekend was MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre. The 23 year old was taking a first tentative dip with Supercross Paris Lille. “I lost a lot in the whoops section because I don’t have the technique yet but already by the end of the day I was much better. I had fun and that’s the main point and learnt a lot,” he reflected.
For the second year in a row Maxime Desprey was the reference in the SX2 category and on his Bud Racing Kawasaki as the former Grand Prix rider was clearly the quickest among some of Europe’s up-and-coming supercross talent.
Lille signed off having adjusted and endured through exceptional circumstances. “If everything is closed and stopped then they [terrorists] have won,” said Febvre, trying to find some perspective. “We have to show that we are not scared and we’ll get on with our lives.”
French fans, French solidarity and a fine French venue still embraced American speed and this special event would be somehow lost without some of the AMA’s best churning the local soil. Peick was the fifth different US victor in the last five years and the ‘SPL’ continues to surprise and entertain.