CHRISTOPHE, WHY HAS MOTOCROSS ALWAYS COME
EASILY TO YOU? I started racing the Grand Prix series when I
was only 15 years old. I started in the middle of the season in my
first year just to learn from the other guys. At that time, the GPs did
not have the 23-year-old age rule, so I was racing against a lot of the
older guys. There were quite a few World Champions in the class, so
it was quite an experience. I mostly finished inside the top
10, and I had a lot of fun racing. In 2004, I was racing a
125 two-stroke, and the bike was fast at that time.
WHY DID YOU COME OVER TO RACE IN
AMERICA? Before that, I had been racing the
French Championships, where there were a lot of
fast guys. They were always a bit older than me
and very competitive. It took some time, but eventually I could beat them. They knew a lot more about
riding motocross than I did, so that was a huge help
to me. Then I won my World Championship in 2006 and
decided to come over to America for a couple races. It
was a lot of fun. I won a Supercross race and practiced
with Ryan Villopoto. It was really enjoyable to ride with a
champion like him. Shortly afterward, I signed a two-year contract to
race with Pro Circuit Kawasaki.
PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE INJURY THAT NEARLY
ENDED YOUR CAREER. I had a terrible crash racing in the GPs
in 2007 and was paralyzed for some time. [Note: Pourcel was
paralyzed from the waist down for eight months.] I did not race at
all in 2008. Pro Circuit was still really good to me. We had signed
a deal for me to race in 2008 and 2009 with them. Pro Circuit
owner Mitch Payton honored his word, and he gave me a two-year
deal beginning in 2009. This all happened while I was still injured.
Kawasaki had always helped me in the past, and I had a lot of
support from them. I had been riding for Kawasaki since I was on
mini bikes. The injury was really bad. The flagger did not show the
yellow flag when another rider crashed. It was cold that morning,
and being that it was only 9 a.m., maybe he was a little drunk, as
the race was in Ireland. The rider crashed at the bottom of a 120-foot
jump and I landed on the back of him. We hit bike to bike, and it
completely destroyed my back.
WHY NOT RETIRE AFTER SUFFERING SUCH A MAJOR
INJURY? When you are a kid and crash like that, you do often
think that way; however, that crash was not my fault. I barely crash
at all when I race. I’m very careful on the bike, and I know the risks
that I am taking. It was just an accident that happened. I told my
dad that I wanted to ride again, but that if I got scared when I got
on the bike then we would do something else. Since the crash and
injury, I have learned to enjoy more things in life—maybe little things
that others don’t realize they should enjoy.
HOW DID YOU ADAPT SO QUICKLY TO SUPERCROSS?
I think that my technique on the bike is very good. After my big
crash, I taught myself how to ride even better. I began using the
bike to my advantage. My main goal was to be perfect on the bike.
I learned to stand up as much as possible and keep my feet in on
the pegs. That’s why I look so smooth when I ride. I focus on keeping my momentum and not making too many mistakes. That helped
me a lot in Supercross. Plus, I can learn the tracks pretty quickly and
jump everything perfectly right away. I can make my momentum for
the entire track—the jumps, the whoops and everything. Once you do
the obstacles on the track perfectly, everything comes together.
WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO TAKE SUCH UNIQUE LINES
AROUND THE TRACK? When I ride and practice, I always try to
find all the lines. I watch different riders to see what they are doing