Rupert X Ruport: Christophe Pourcel – Why I’m his Fifth Biggest Fan and Enthusiastically Drive The Poucel Bandwagon. 15

Fifth biggest fan? Well, I’m assuming that his mom and dad, girlfriend, and brother, Sebastien are bigger fans than me. But, likely, I’m the biggest American fan the mysterious French motocross sensation has in his Yankee bullpen. Hells yes, I was a Jean-Michel Bayle fan, still am. So yeah, I do have a history of adoring the smooth and reclusive riders from that European country, that so many Americans despise – yet more so, I’m a fan of motocross – and humans overcoming adversity. Christophe Pourcel does not seem to have many American fans and, I’m unsure if he actually gives a damn about that, but I sure do. Perhaps because of my International history, maybe because I enjoy the unique and different - I’m a little more easy to warm to those fuzzy foreigners, especially if they have a ridiculously fluid style of riding a motorcycle.  I just feel that if more American motocross fans knew his story, what he’s been through – what he’s overcome, to continue competing at this filthy little sport of ours – that they’d be fans, as well.

Let us back it up to 2005. After a very successful amateur career, a seventeen-year young Christophe, born in 1988 in Marseille, France – a coastal Mediterranean city and shipping port, enters the professional world of Grand Prix motocross. That scored him a fifth place spot in that year’s world standings. Coming back in 2006, he would earn his first world championship, taking the points over a young Antonio Cairoli. In August of 2007, whilst competing at the Irish GP, a very nasty wreck resulted in a terrible back injury, so severe that doctors warned he might never walk again. After a grueling recovery period, including eight long months in a wheelchair with partial paralysis, he was eventually able to walk – and ride again. Flash up to 2009 and he’s under the Mitch Payton tent, operating a Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki 250F with that old, amazing dexterity and smooth n’ hasty style and, get this, he wraps up an East Coast 250 series Supercross title. And then, takes the East again in 2010. Then, we get into kind of a fuzzy period for the innovative and very “crafty” Frenchman. A shoulder injury at Pala, California in late 2010, then following up with spending 2011 and 2012 racing sporadically in the GPs at the top MX1 level  with erratic results and, some would say, erratic behavior – he ends up with a lacerated liver after another brutal crash at the Bercy Supercross in Paris. This would require all of 2013 for him to be recovering – almost 18 months to heal up his innards, total.

Cut to spring of 2014 and there are rumors that Messieu Pourcel – hanging out at his ranch in Florida, and occasionally giving riding lessons, is ready to compete in the summertime Lucas Oils Pro Motocross Championships. Given his reclusive, elusive, and mysterious behavior in the past, everyone is unsure if this is going to happen and, it almost didn’t. Ultimately, a last minute deal was made and Christophe appears on the starting-line at the Glen Helen opener, with a fresh 2014 Valli Motorsports Yamaha 250F beneath him. He looked rusty but still had that incredible line-picking ability, seemingly able to avoid the bumps and the mess, sometimes not jumping the bigger launches, yet able to sneak around other riders at will. Thoroughly bind-moggling is both his technique and, his use of the circuit, finding the fastest, smoothest way whenever possible, which led him to a very ho-hum 7-5, fifth overall. He seemed to pick up the pace as the series went on, very often snagging holeshots on his way-fast YZ250F, using his slight, slim frame and quick reactions to nail start after start, often landing on the podium, generally to little or no applause from the fans. And, he still doesn’t seem to care. And then, at Unadilla he took a 2-1 for the overall win and, all could probably hear was the chants of “ USA, USA, USA” – after all, it was series leader and, later crowned AMA champ Jeremy Martin – they wanted to win. Ah well, c’est la vie. Christophe would end the season in fifth place overall, not too shabby for a guy they said might never walk again. Motocross has always been about great comeback stories, tales of bravery from riders both stateside and worldwide, riders that overcame horrific injuries to compete again and, ultimately - find success. But this, this - is a very special story. Hollywood, listen up, please?

I took particular interest this outdoor season, to not just watch his races on TV and study his riding on the walls of tracks, or his uncanny and bizarre ability to set fast practice time then pull off – but, at the races I could attend in person, I took quiet note of his unusual behavior and habits.  Due to his injuries and resulting medical history, there are all types of rumors swirling through the pits – that he has trouble peeing, or that he cannot sweat – and that he has to keep his body below a certain temperature. I don’t know of any of these things to be true, but, I do know he generally has his mechanic take his bike to the starting line, and he usually gets delivered to said machine about 3-5 minutes before the gate drops and, I do know he’s got that weird blow-up chair thingy that holds icy-water – so he can chill in it between motos. Oh, and he seems to have an American – style girlfriend that I’ve seen washing his boots and helmet. As for special diet, I did never witness him eating anything. Nothing. And, he is very slim indeed.

I ain’t gonna lie, I’m fascinated by the dude. Both on and off the track. He’s a mystery wrapped in a croissant-wrapped in a burger-wrapped in an enigma-wrapped in a puzzle-with a super smooth ‘n steady throttle hand.

So, what’s next for Christophe?  2015 Supercross? Outdoors? I hope so, and I hope some of you cheer for this confusing human. He strongly deserves it.

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