Interview: Anthony Bourdon – impressing in Paris and AMA Supercross ambitions
In the SX2 class, Anthony Bourdon was very impressive in Paris battling against the likes of Tom Vialle and Jace Owen. The French rider ended up third overall at the end of the weekend which was very impressive on his BUD Racing Kawasaki.
The French rider has improved a lot over the past couple of years and is now looking to race a 250cc AMA Supercross which would be a great opportunity for him.
Kevin Frelaud from DailyMX caught up with him at the end of the weekend in Paris and was kind enough to share the interview with us…
Anthony, I was quite surprised to see you on the 250 in Paris. I know you race the WSX in 250, but you also ride the French SX Tour on the 450. Why did you choose to line up in Paris on the 250?
It’s true that I’m normally a 450 rider in France. The idea was to finish the season on the 250, because I knew I had an opportunity to be one of the front runners in Paris, whereas in the 450 it was more complicated. The second reason was that we’ve got the World Supercross in Melbourne next week, and we’re flying out tomorrow (Monday), so I also wanted to avoid changing bike, it made sense to stay on the 250 and get ready for next week. It worked out pretty well; I felt good on the bike, even if there’s always a bit of getting used to when you switch from the 450 to the 250. We made a few changes on the bike, I enjoyed myself and I think it showed, so that’s cool.
A word about Friday’s press day. You only did a few laps, but does taking part in this kind of day give you a head start or an advantage? Does it allow you to see some of the tracks, the rhythms, the whoops, get a feel for the track, make bike adjustments?
It’s always a little advantage to be able to do a few laps beforehand. We had two 6-lap sessions for the press day, so that’s definitely a plus, but on Saturday we had 15 minutes of free practice, 15 minutes of time practice, which aren’t very short sessions, so everyone has time to get into the swing of things. In fact, it’s a good thing these sessions were long enough, because there were a lot of us on the track in SX2. Yes, that’s a plus, but it’s not everything either.
From the outside, I got the impression that they haven’t put as much emphasis on the whoops as in previous editions. You could make the difference in them, but they weren’t the highlight of the evening.
It’s true that the whoops were perhaps a little smaller than in previous years, but we still saw the 450 riders managed to make the difference in it. When you see the Lawrence or even Ken Roczen go by, there’s always a difference made in the whoops. When they’re new, everyone knows how to take them, but when they get rough, it gets complicated. We still made quite a bit of difference in the whoops; there was also the sand part which played a bit, there was time to lose in the sand. All in all, it was a beautiful track with several possible rhythms, notably the one before the big double in the middle. With the 250, we did a different rhythm compared to the 450 riders, so the track was a success.
Fourth on the first night, even better on the second. Winning a race that way is crazy. When you saw the names of the guys competing in SX2, you probably didn’t think you’d win one in Paris.
Clearly, the second day was even better than the first, battling with Tom and winning the second race. It’s really cool to be able to fight with him, I was able to race against him when we were younger. I won a moto by overtaking him on the last lap, which is cool, but it’s true that they’re still a step above us. Their training is different from what we do in Europe, and their bikes are different too. But we’re not that far behind, and the French level isn’t all that bad; it’s great to finish the weekend in Paris on the podium.
Last year, I asked you about the US. You replied “I’ll go one day, I don’t know when, but I’ll go”. When we see what you’re able to do in Paris against Factory riders who are claiming podiums and victories in US SX, we’re bound to wonder if it’s for 2024?
Yes, it’s planned. I’ve been working on the US project for two months now. In particular, I’m in contact with a few structures over there. For me, it would be great. Going over there on my own – even if I could get support and a lot of help from Bud Racing – would still be complicated, especially logistically. It would be easier for me to join a team there. The US teams were waiting to see the results of the Paris Supercross to see what it would be like; I think I showed some good things, so I hope I’ll have a spot to do a season in the US.
You would be racing the 250 class?
Exactly. For the first year, the 250 would allow me to do a whole coast, whereas in the 450, I’d be away for longer and it’s another, more complicated step. The idea is to do the 250 championship. East, West? Normally, we’re aiming more for the east coast; that gives me more time to organize, but it will also depend on the offers I get. I’ve potentially got offers to do the West Coast. I’m fully committed to the project. I told you about it last year and I really wanted to go. Right now, I think there’s a good chance of it happening.
There’s one event left on the SX Tour. You’re second in the championship before Lyon. What do you need to do to catch up with Aranda and Soubeyras and take your first win in the category?
Greg and Soubeyras are still a notch above me. Maybe I’m still lacking a bit of experience, because they’ve been riding together for 10 years, they’re out there, they do SX every weekend. Soub has already been to the USA, they have more experience and I think that’s what I’m missing to be able to beat them regularly. That’s also why I want to go to the US, to take a step forward in France. I hope it will help me, but we’re going to give it our all in Lyon to get on the podium, and why not on the top step.
How is the WSX going this year? You did the 450 championship with GSM last year, and this year you’re down to the 250 with Bud. Given what you showed us again this weekend, it’s safe to say that your WSX results don’t really reflect what you should be able to do this season in this championship.
No, it’s clear that I completely blew it at the last event. The track was a bit special, narrow, small and difficult to overtake. I found myself on the second row at the start and it was complicated all evening, I couldn’t get off to a good start…
From memory, you were the fastest SX2 in time practice.
Exactly, I took the pole in time practice but I messed up my heat. It was the heat that put you through to the evening’s three finals; it was the heat you couldn’t miss if you wanted to be on the front row …. I struggled all evening and I think the results don’t reflect the level I’m necessarily at the moment. Now we’re going to Melbourne, and I think the track will be bigger, like Paris, and I think we’ll be able to express ourselves better. I’m hoping for better results in Melbourne than in Abu Dhabi, that’s for sure.
I (Kevin Frelaud) was quite critical of the Abu Dhabi race, and one of the Bud guys came down on me. What’s your opinion of this second round of the championship, the organization and the track, compared with previous events?
It’s true that everything was top-notch for us on site. There are a few things to improve, of course. After that, it’s World Supercross and, as they told us, you have to adapt to each country. In Germany, they have small tracks. In Abu Dhabi, there’s a small hall, in the US, they have big stadiums… The world championship will be made up of several types of terrain, and in Abu Dhabi we came across a small one. That’s just the way it is. We’ll have to adapt, but we know that now. A good start, a good heat, we’ll have to perform and adapt. All in all, I think there were some great races. In 450, there was a lot of fighting and we talked a lot about it with Friese, who gave us a hard time. For us, being there, it was incredible. We’ve heard a lot of criticism, and there’s bound to be room for improvement, particularly in terms of TV coverage, I think. What people saw didn’t necessarily reflect what we experienced on site. They’re working on improvements and we hope they’ll go in the right direction. The final will be on home soil, in Australia, and I think that promises to be a great final.
Interview and images: Kevin Frelaud/DailyMX