Christophe Pourcel Back to GP with Kawasaki

June 30, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Frenchman Christophe Pourcel made his debut in the premier MX class aboard MotoConcepts Yamaha with 7-11 moto scores.
Christophe Pourcel started the 2011 MX season on the MotoConcepts Yamaha, but the squad fired its star mid-season after he was a no show at Budds Creek.

Christophe Pourcel has found regular paycheck again – at least for now. The Frenchman returns to GP in Europe, having reached an agreement to race the Kawasaki Team CLS KX450F in MX1. The return sees Pourcel partner up with familiar faces, as Team CLS owner Jen Jacques Luisetti was an early sponsor of the 22-year-old.

Said Pourcel in a team statement announcing the deal: “I’m happy to be back with Team CLS, who offered me a nice challenge. I know the team and I’m sure that we will do a great job together. I know the 450 Kawasaki well as I’ve been training on this bike in Florida, and I will be back alongside my former mechanic Jeremy Fontaine who was already working with me in 2006 when I won the World title. I’ve also been working in the past with Yann Lozano, so that makes it even easier to soon be ready to join the MX1 World Championship.”

The Kawasaki Team CLS deal also reunites Pourcel with Pro Circuit, which is partnered with the GP team’s MX1/MX2 squads. Pourcel’s connection with Mitch Payton’s American-based Pro Circuit Kawasaki juggernaut includes successive East Coast Lites Supercross in 2009 and 2010. Pourcel almost captured the 250 MX title as well, but crashed away the championship and injured his shoulder during the season finale at Pala.

Pourcel picked up his first moto win of the 2010 season at Hangtown.
Christophe Pourcel captures the 2009 Supercross Lites East championship - AMA Supercross Toronto
Pourcel nearly captured the 250 MX crown in 2010, but crashed in the season finale. The French rider did manage to nab a pair of Supercross titles, however, taking consecutive titles in the East Coast Lites series during 2009 and 2010.

Pourcel generated much controversy in 2011. Out of work as the Motocross season approached, high salary demands were rumored to be the reason why Pourcel could not procure a top-tier ride in the 450 MX ranks. The rumors caused Pourcel to issue a statement, in which he announced: “The only thing that I have asked for or have sought, has been something that would provide me with a program that is comparable to the way that my competitive set of riders are being compensated and supported. I am not ‘holding out’ for a specific amount of compensation as has been stated by a certain corporate spokesperson, but I have sought and continue to work toward a deal that allows me to have the resources I need to be competitive and to plan for my future after racing.”

Pourcel eventually signed with the MotoConcepts Yamaha squad – the team managed by fellow Frenchman and former MX racer David Vuillemin. But lackluster results resulted in MotoConcepts sacking its high-profile acquisition after Pourcel was a no show for the Budds Creek National.

Strangely enough, Pourcel’s seat on the Kawasaki CLS opened up when its regular MX1 ace, Ben Townley, announced a surprising leave of absence from the team. Townley, who like Pourcel parlayed GP success into an AMA Supercross East Coast Lites title (2007) for the Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad, withdrew from GP before the sixth round of the championship.

Returning to his native New Zealand to recuperate physically and mentally, Townley cited off-season crashes had deteriorated his confidence to compete safely. The 27-year-old issued a statement last month saying of his 2011 return from offseason injury: “Since I started racing, I have had some struggles mentally. The crashes have affected me to a point where I cannot safely race at this level yet. I have made a decision that I need more time to build my confidence back up and work on rebuilding my racing.”