Christophe Pourcel has overcome paralysis to win a East Coast Lites Championship. He is on track to become a two-time champ.
Pro Circuit’s Christophe Pourcel has been on a tear this season, winning the first three races of the East Coast Lites. The fast Frenchman is ridiculously smooth and undeniably fast on his Kawasaki KX250F. Not too many would bet against him to sweep the series this year. It’s difficult to fathom that in August of 2007 doctors told Pourcel he may never walk again. A spinal cord injury left the then 19-year-old MX2 Champion paralyzed from the waist down for eight months. He returned to competition in 2008 and won the 2009 AMA East Coast Lites Championship. This week MotoUSA was able to catch up with the current Lites champ just before the Daytona Supercross got underway.
Christophe, this is kind of like your “home” race. You live just 20 minutes down the road. Does that help with being more relaxed in any way?
It doesn’t matter if it’s close to my house or not. I won here last year and I like the track. I like the sand. I’m pretty happy to get a track outside like that.
So the big battle last week in Atlanta saw a lot of swapping of positions. You were back in fourth place at one point. Some insiders said you were just waiting to make your move once everyone had tired out or made mistakes.
I think you could see it on the bike anyway, the way I ride, but I had a big crash two weeks ago. I didn’t know if I could ride last weekend. So it wasn’t easy for me, and those riders rode pretty hard last weekend. So it was pretty good to get a race like that. You never know if you’re gonna move in the front and win the race. You never know what is going to happen. I was just sitting in the third place, and waiting to see what was going to happen. But I was on the gas too, I’m not gonna lie!
Pourcel hit his head hard in practice two weeks ago. He says he was not 100% at the Atlanta round when he mixed it up with Stroupe, Barcia, Wilson and Metcalfe.
How are you feeling this weekend?
I’m getting better. I hit my head two weeks ago, so I’m feeling better. My vision is good. I’m better than last weekend, but I’ll be better next weekend too.
Your comeback is inspiring for riders and racers that have had spinal cord injuries. You’ve worked so hard and won after such a horrible situation. Coming back from being paralyzed, what was it like?
It’s all you gotta do, right? I broke my back; I was paralyzed.
(“He’s still a wussy!” chimed in a Pro Circuit team member)
Ha! So it was like, “Hey , I just gotta go back on the bike.” Now if I want to do 15 laps, it’s not a big deal because I was paralyzed. Fifteen laps is not gonna be a big deal in your life. So just give what you’ve got on the track, just try to be smart and smooth.
Why do French riders seem to ride so smooth, well, except for David Vuillemin? You have a smooth style and are so confident on the bike.
I think there is not a lot of French riders that have come here and won the race. There’s just a few, and you can count them on your hand. I think we have got a lot of riders in France, but we don’t have many top guys. When you find the right guys, it’s one of the really good ones. And he’s going to be smart. There is so many riders, hopefully you just gonna find one.
Pourcel had to duck out of the interview early to get ready for practice, but we will catch up again with him at a later date. Stay tuned for round two with Christophe Pourcel.