Looking back on the 2023 Paris Supercross, the correct riders were crowned in both divisions. Reflecting now, with the advantage of hindsight, there was no one who could dream of stopping Jett Lawrence in SX1 nor could any of the contenders in SX2 halt Jo Shimoda's bid. Straying from the traditional format of a race report, allow us to highlight the trials and tribulations that the top riders encountered.
Jett Lawrence (2-2-1): Jett Lawrence blamed jet lag for the fact that he had zero 'spark' on day two – his starts suffered and made life difficult. The fact that he tackled adversity meant that he could flex somewhat. Although he did not win the second moto, he advanced from seventh to within six tenths of glory. To do that on a track as simple as Paris was arguably his shining moment inside of Paris' La Défense Arena. The last moto was gifted to him after Ken Roczen fell.
Had it not been for that, he could have been winless on day two. That should not take away from the fact that he was phenomenal, however, as he dealt with an abundance of scenarios throughout the event and prospered. Naysayers can claim that it is a meaningless event on a track that is fairly basic, but the counter to that would be that it is troublesome to make a difference in such an environment. Lawrence was more impressive in Paris than he was in 2023 Pro Motocross, in the opinion of this humble scribe.
Hunter Lawrence (1-3-3): Hunter Lawrence was a revelation on day one and his actions on day two simply underlined his clear potential aboard the CRF450R. '96' radiated composure as he handled pressure from the likes of his brother and Ken Roczen. It is all positive in the Hunter portion of Lawrence's camp. Perhaps the only thing that needs to be worked on is his raw pace on one lap – that was lacking somewhat across the program.
Cooper Webb (4-4-2): Cooper Webb was better on day two than day one, helped in part by some better starts. Does that mean that he was phenomenal aboard his YZ450F for the first time? No. Although this scribe failed to track him down in the hours following the race, it was clear to the naked eye that a change was made prior to the second main. From the moment that started, he was much feistier and seemed like he was keen to right the ship. Webb was third overall, but the fourth-best rider.
Ken Roczen (1-3-6): Ken Roczen's troublesome weekend continued in France, but there was a handful of brighter spots to embrace on Sunday. The win in the first main was superb and the way that he distanced himself from the field in the final stint was simply incredible. Unfortunately, a handful of crashes derailed his progress and left him in a state of confusion. The weekend was packed with highs, lows and everything in between for '94' – that raw speed and ability was still in play though.
Jo Shimoda (1-3-1): Much like night one, there was one moto that stopped Jo Shimoda from hitting the 'perfect' status. The first and third motos were rather uneventful – no one could challenge him despite a handful of untimely bobbles. A terrible start in the second main event left him with work to do, but he could have won had he not tried to force the issue in an area where a move was not possible. Nonetheless, to win in his 'red' debut with a near-perfect scorecard is undoubtedly positive.
Anthony Bourdon (3-1-3): Anthony Bourdon is respected in supercross events across the continent and capable of being competitive in the top five, but his performance inside of the French capital far exceeded all expectations. Bourdon was arguably the second-best rider on Sunday and the way in which he claimed the win in moto two was brilliant: he ran Tom Vialle down and passed him in the whoops on the very last lap in a move that will surely be referenced as the highlight of his career.
Tom Vialle (4-2-2): Tom Vialle stated that he was happier on Sunday versus Saturday but didn't reference the crushing defeat in moto two. There is little doubt that he was more consistent on the motorcycle, with fewer mistakes, but he lacked whoop speed and general pace across a full lap. The good news is that he has some parts to test in Southern California this week and that should help him advance to another level, which is necessary.