Motocross

Merci Bercy

Merci Bercy

MOST OF the big boys don’t want to play but those who do and put their reputations on the line in the ‘new’ Bercy emerge with varying degrees of success. World 125cc champ Mickael Maschio ends the weekend on sick leave after crashing his skull out racing the kids, while even the new ‘King’ – Grant Langston – has to wait until Sunday afternoon to win a Main Event as Lariviere kick out the 250s and run the show with 125s only. “Some stars seem to have forgotten their roots,” declares a defiant Xavier Audouard, the driving force behind the stream of outrageous ideas that have kept Bercy ahead of the game for nearly 20 years. “In the end only ‘RonRon’ (Stephane Roncada) didn’t have a valid excuse for not coming but we are sold out anyway. The money is there to be won on the race track and the kids earned it. That was the best racing we have had for years!” Just six races – three heats, two repecharge and the Main – are served up each evening but three freestyle shows and the usual theatrical mix of lights, music and dancing girls keep the show on the move. Pichon pulled out when he gave team boss Sylvain Geboers collywobbles by canceling all future arrangements (anyone go a tenner he’s at Bellpuig on March 31?) and Vuillemin was not coming, coming and finally had to stay home and make Yamaha tests after his return from injury was delayed. But could they have done any better against the 125 SX hotshots than Maschio? Probably not – it would just have been nice to see them brought back to earth! Of course, the kids manage to do that to themselves. Eric Sorby sends the crowd bananas with from-the-back wins in the first heat on each of the first two evenings but never survives a first lap in the three Main Events. Boniface, Thain, Maschio – even Raphael Beaudoin – lead races before self-destructing and even US ‘star name’ Steve Lamson gets pushed out of a transfer slot on all three evenings! Kurt Nicoll’s Rest of the World squad is ripped apart by pre-event injuries to Tyla Rattray and Michael Byrne and his two remaining hotshots (both satisfactorily on KTM) – Langston and Joaquim Rodrigues – give the boss kittens before the weekend’s over. They even manage to land in a heap – just the two of them – from different ends of the gate at turn one of their opening ride on Friday before surging back through to transfer. And Kurt’s spitting venom when the Portuguese stays prostrate in the track at turn one of the Saturday Main to force a stoppage – “Can’t he look who’s leading first? Billy (Laninovich) and Grant had holeshot!” When all three KTMs emerge from turn one outside the top 10 on the rerun, Kurt’s grumpier than ever!