Sebastien and Christophe ready for a Pourcel one-two
The opening day of the FIM Motocross Grand Prix of Bulgaria got underway today on the Gorna Rositza track in Sevlievo, less than 200 kilometres from Sofia.
At this eighth round, Frenchman Sebastien Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki) clinched his first pole position of the season, which is also the first one since he joined the MX1 class at the beginning of the year. His brother Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki) won the first Qualifying heat, and will start from pole tomorrow, right next to Championship leader Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), winner of the second Qualifying heat.
The day was very hot and sunny until the beginning of the afternoon, but a later shower made the temperature cool down for the MX1 Qualifying session.
Sebastien Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki) / Photo by: Ray Archer
GPKR’s Sebastien Pourcel was definitely the one who tried the hardest today, and was the only rider who lapped under the one minute and 52 seconds barrier. The 22 year old put together a flying lap with seven minutes to go, and snatched the provisional pole from KTM Red Bull’s Jonathan Barragan (ESP, KTM).
The Spaniard looked quite solid, and clocked the best split time, but finished the session with a fourth place. There is still a chance of victory for Barragan, who does not win motos since Valkenswaard, but there will be a strong opposition standing at the gate next to him tomorrow.
Steve Ramon (BEL, Suzuki) of Suzuki is psyched up about this eighth Grand Prix, and ended the day with an important second place, less than half a second slower than Pourcel. Ramon won one moto last weekend in France, which was a confidence booster for the Belgian, and here in Sevlievo he was third on the podium last year.
Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha) / Photo by: Ray Archer
Yamaha Motocross’ Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha) brought the bike home with a third place, which will be very important for tomorrow’s start. The Kiwi has a solid advantage in the Championship, but he cannot relax in front of such motivated rivals –even if last year’s runner up Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki) currently sits out of this GP because of a knee injury.
American Mike Brown (USA, Honda) of CAS Honda completed the top five, but he is well known for his storming starts and this will surely not hamper his race. The American had only one podium this season in Japan, but this look like his grasping another podium finish.
Tanel Leok (EST, Kawasaki) and David Philippaerts (ITA, KTM) were just outside the top five, being respectively sixth and seventh ahead of Julien Bill (SUI, Honda), while Marc de Reuver (NED, Yamaha) and Billy Mackenzie (GBR, Kawasaki) rounded off the top ten.
Qualifying Class MX1:
- Pourcel, Sebastien (FRA, Kawasaki), 1:51.559
- Ramon, Steve (BEL, Suzuki), 1:52.001
- Coppins, Joshua (NZL, Yamaha), 1:52.286
- Barragan, Jonathan (ESP, KTM), 1:52.293
- Brown, Mike (USA, Honda), 1:52.738
- Leok, Tanel (EST, Kawasaki), 1:52.763
- Philippaerts, David (ITA, KTM), 1:52.832
- Bill, Julien (SUI, Honda), 1:53.129
- de Reuver, Marc (NED, Yamaha), 1:53.393
- Mackenzie, Billy (GBR, Kawasaki), 1:53.612
- de Dycker, Ken (BEL, Honda), 1:53.867
- Nemeth, Kornel (HUN, Suzuki), 1:53.878
- Renet, Pierre A. (FRA, Honda), 1:53.939
- van Daele, Marvin (BEL, Honda), 1:53.996
- Desalle, Clement (BEL, Suzuki), 1:54.045
- Priem, Manuel (BEL, TM), 1:54.093
- Noble, James (GBR, Honda), 1:54.138
- Vanni, Julien (FRA, Honda), 1:54.234
- Leok, Aigar (EST, Yamaha), 1:54.318
- Crockard, Gordon (IRL, Honda), 1:54.438
- Stevanini, Christian (ITA, Yamaha), 1:54.474
- Melotte, Cedric (BEL, Aprilia), 1:54.917
- Coulon, Cyrille (FRA, Honda), 1:55.110
- Freibergs, Lauris (LAT, Yamaha), 1:55.170
- Chiodi, Alessio (ITA, Aprilia), 1:55.219
- Columb, Scott (NZL, Suzuki), 1:55.386
- Theybers, Danny (BEL, Suzuki), 1:56.050
- Graham, Bradley (USA, Kawasaki), 1:56.152
- Allier, Thomas (FRA, Kawasaki), 1:56.488
- Beggi, Cristian (ITA, WRM), 1:56.493
- Verhoeven, Bas (NED, Honda), 1:56.642
- Jensen, Kasper (DEN, Yamaha), 1:57.259
There is a very challenging atmosphere around the paddock, who is expecting another hard fight between GPKR’s Christophe Pourcel and Yamaha de Carli’s Antonio Cairoli, who both won their Qualifying races. KTM Red Bull’s Tyla Rattray (RSA, KTM) was second in heat one, but he was quite far from Pourcel, and the same happened to Martin Honda’s Pascal Leuret (FRA, Honda), second behind Cairoli in the final heat.
MX2 Qualifying Race 1
Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki)
Photo by: Ray Archer
Christophe Pourcel kept an internal line and was the quickest to reach the first turn. With the rivals grouping right behind him, the Frenchman took advantage of some early fights and pulled away with the lead to win his sixth Qualifying heat of the season. South African Tyla Rattray battled with countryman Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki) to finally earn a hard fought second place. Tyla was seven seconds and a half behind Pourcel, who did a race on his own, and Swanepoel completed the top three. Tommy Searle’s (GBR, KTM) fourth place was a different story. The young British had to make up for a difficult start, as he was eight by the end of lap one, but he rode a strong moto to round off the top four at the end of the 12 lap heat. Kenneth Gundersen (NOR, Yamaha) was attacked and passed by Searle when he was cruising in fourth place; the Norwegian finally settled down for fifth ahead of Tom Church (GBR, Kawasaki).
Qualifying Class MX2 1st Race:
- Pourcel, Christophe (FRA, Kawasaki)
- Rattray, Tyla (RSA, KTM)
- Swanepoel, Gareth (RSA, Kawasaki)
- Searle, Tommy (GBR, KTM)
- Gundersen, Kenneth (NOR, Yamaha)
- Church, Tom (GBR, Kawasaki)
- Nunn, Carl (GBR, Yamaha)
- Goncalves, Rui (POR, KTM)
- Boog, Xavier (FRA, Yamaha)
- van Horebeek, Jeremy (BEL, KTM)
- Terreblanche, Shannon (RSA, KTM)
- Barr, Martin (GBR, Yamaha)
MX2 Qualifying Race 2
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha) / Photo by: Ray Archer
The final Qualifying heat was run under mixed conditions; it started on a dry ground, but the rain arrived at half race distance. This was not a problem for Antonio Cairoli, who lead the entire heat, and displayed his “take no prisoner attitude” completely. Pascal Leuret actually chased Cairoli for the holeshot, but countryman Nicolas Aubin (FRA, Yamaha) was quick to pass him for second place. Aubin gave chase to Cairoli, but crashed and handed the runner up spot back to Leuret. Leuret cruised in second place for the rest of the race, while Aubin rolled his sleeves up to make up ground on the leaders, after he rejoined the race in seventh place. Aubin was quick to reach a safe third place, and defended the position until the chequered flag. By the end of the heat, the Frenchman had a very motivated trio on his tail, with Anthony Boissiere (FRA, Kawasaki), Davide Guarneri (ITA, Yamaha) and Sean Hamblin (USA, Suzuki) all aiming at the fourth place. Guarneri and Hamblin started a dogfight for fifth place, with a very gutsy Hamblin moving past the Italian, and achieving a final fifth place.
Qualifying Class MX2 2nd Race:
- Cairoli, Antonio (ITA, Yamaha)
- Leuret, Pascal (FRA, Honda)
- Aubin, Nicolas (FRA, Yamaha)
- Boissiere, Anthony (FRA, Kawasaki)
- Hamblin, Sean (USA, Suzuki)
- Guarneri, Davide (ITA, Yamaha)
- Schiffer, Marcus (GER, KTM)
- Tyletski, Yauheni (BLR, Suzuki)
- Avis, Wyatt (RSA, KTM)
- Verbruggen, Dennis (BEL, Yamaha)
- Campano, Carlos (ESP, Yamaha)
- Kohut, Martin (SVK, Honda)
MX2 Last Chance Qualifying Practice:
- Tarroux, Jeremy (FRA, Yamaha), 1:55.745
- Seistola, Matti (FIN, Honda), 1:55.967
- Banks-Browne, Elliot (GBR, Suzuki), 1:57.481
- Simpson, Shaun (GBR, Kawasaki), 1:58.260
- Maddii, Marco (ITA, Yamaha), 1:58.294
- van Vijfeijken, Rob (NED, KTM), 1:58.540