The fortieth edition of Paris' Supercross, Europe's premier indoor race, has fired into life with a 'bang' of epic proportions. The first night of a two-night program has just finished within the La Défense Arena, a structure that can house forty thousand fans, and it delivered on many fronts. Straying from the traditional format of a race report, allow us to highlight the trials and tribulations that the top riders encountered.
Jett Lawrence (1-1-1): The results paint a picture that is not too representative of how Lawrence's evening unfolded within Paris' La Défense Arena. The first moto was a walk in the park, to be frank, but there was a need for urgency in the second stint. '18' stalked his brother for much of the moto and could not close at points, but ultimately made a move in the last turn on the very last lap. It was another powerful message – the third moto was where he stamped his authority though.
Lawrence took the early lead, passing Ken Roczen after a mistake, and looked set to dominate before he washed the front in the corner following the finish line. Remounting in a hurry, he went after Roczen and avoided a downed rider in the whoops to retake the lead. There was a brief exchange where he gave the lead back – clearly feeling like that initial move lacked credibility – but he soon gained control to complete a perfect night in front of a capacity crowd.
Hunter Lawrence (2-2-6): The revelation on night one, perhaps? Lawrence was almost picture perfect on the CRF450R that he has ridden for three weeks and done preliminary testing aboard: he does not appear out of sorts when competing alongside his foes, Jett and Kenny, which is a statement. It was a shame that he could not keep ahold of the win in moto two – that should not detract from his brilliance though. Jett was trailing for a while. A crash in the whoops was the reason for his sixth in moto three.
Ken Roczen (3-6-2): Ken Roczen was far from where he wanted to be and, honestly, looked untidy in the three main events. There was the potential for him to steal a win in each of those stints – it was a fall in the final turn that demoted him to sixth in the second main event. Reports suggest that he tweaked the foot that he injured in Abu Dhabi in that fall. A holeshot in the third main event provided him with a shot at success, but a handful of small errors proved to be costly.
Cooper Webb (5-3-3): Cooper Webb's experience on Saturday was in contrast to what one typically sees from the two-time champion, as he was unbelievable in practice and quiet in the races. There was no real spark, mainly because mediocre starts ensured that he had to charge from behind, but consistency helped him to capitalize on mistakes from the two riders ahead of him in the overall classification. Webb is tied for third in the overall classification, which is remarkable with how underwhelming his night was.
Jo Shimoda (1-1-3): Fans anticipated a showdown between Jo Shimoda and Tom Vialle, but that was not what transpired at all on day one of competition in the SX2 class. Shimoda was unstoppable in those first two motos and then had to come from dead last in the final stint, but he almost won that too! Less than two seconds separated him from the eventual victor, Vialle, at the checkered flag. '30' holds a lead of two points over Jace Owen in the overall classification.
Jace Owen (2-3-2): Although it has been the Shimoda show, for the most part, Jace Owen is there lurking in the shadows and could be an upset in this afternoon's program. The last moto was where he performed at his best – he was a legitimate contender for the race victory. Shimoda and Vialle have dominated from the drop of the gate to turn one and so that is Owen's weakness, not that it is much of a shock considering how superior the equipment beneath his rivals is.
Tom Vialle (8-2-1): Tom Vialle was, truthfully, underwhelming as soon as those press activities fired into life on Friday afternoon. '28' was obviously uncomfortable in the whoops and the pressure of the occasion arguably rattled him – a crash entering the start straight in that first moto was uncharacteristic and rather odd. Winning the overall in the SX2 division is unrealistic at this point, barring a disaster for Shimoda, so maybe the removal of that weight will result in a stronger athlete?