Team France discuss winning their home MXoN Ernee

What a weekend it was for the French team racing their home MXoN at Ernee. At a tricky hard pack track and an electric crowd but the French put on one amazing show with the amazing atmosphere dominating the event.

The riders and Gautier Paulin who is the team manager had their say after the event.

Gautier Paulin (team manager): “Winning the Nations as a rider and as a coach are not the same thing. Obviously, experiencing it as a rider is more intense, but I’m really pleased to have been able to give them all my support, all my experience; I was able to share every detail with them and it went really well. They surprised me in a positive way. I’d like to thank all three of them for putting me through this kind of moment, because it’s thanks to them that I’m able to be in this position today. We were expecting a good crowd, and without some very good riders, it would have been difficult for them to stay in their zone throughout the weekend. Thanks to Maxime, Romain and Tom, they were incredible.

These are three riders with very strong personalities who have fought together at the GP’s. Maxime has already fought Tom in MX2, and now he’s fighting Romain in MXGP. They were all really happy to be at the Nations, especially in front of the French fans at home. You had to be really motivated, and they were, which made things easier. It’s different riding at home than if you’re riding in a faraway country, they all participated and shared before the races and that made my job even easier. It was good to be so well organized because at the end of such a long season, everyone wants to be at home; we were able to spend a whole week together and that’s a lot of work for them. But to do all that to experience these moments, I think it’s worth it.”

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Romain Febvre: “Yesterday, I wasn’t really myself, I was struggling a bit on the track, that’s how it was, but with my experience, I knew I could turn things around today and that’s what I did. I got off to a good start in the first race, I was directly in second position behind Jorge Prado and it was a bit like in the GP’s; I was behind, I had to find a place to overtake him and that’s what I did. He caught up with me at the end of the race, passed me again and from there it was a fight. With two laps to go, I caught up with him again in the last few laps. I’m really pleased to have been able to win this first race, given yesterday. Tom, especially with the 250, did more than we expected. [With Maxime], they did a 1-2 in the second race and we knew we were in a very good position after that, so we kept attacking in the third race to be able to win. It’s incredible to get a second win at the Nations in Ernée. I’d never experienced anything like it. In 2015, it was something, but I think it was even crazier this year and I’m very happy to win with the French team.

Image: Niek Fotografie

Yesterday, the terrain was really top notch during free practice, but when we did the trackwalk on Friday, we expected it to be a lot softer than it actually was, and a bit more rutted. On Saturday, that wasn’t the case: by morning, it was already very hard and slippery. I think the staff did the best they could today. The ground was great this morning, but then it got quite slippery again. They sprayed a lot of water for the first race and we had to adapt, not rush in the first laps and wait for it to develop a bit more. I don’t think we’ve had rain here for a long time. I’m sure they know how to prepare a circuit and they tried everything, but with the weather they had they couldn’t do much.

Tom Vialle: “The fans were incredible. I had a really good weekend in Ernée. I felt good on the track right from free practice and I was happy to be back here because it’s a track I like. I was able to win Saturday’s MX2 qualifying heat by overtaking Simon Langenfelder on the last lap, and that was really cool. Today, to be honest, I wasn’t really comfortable on the track during the first race, because it was slippery. It was better in the second race. I was lucky at the start on two occasions when I started on the inside because I was maybe tenth in the first corner and I managed to sneak in 4th or 5th each time. I was very happy to be back in France, and the fans were incredible. We came here to win, and we won; it’s great.

In the second race, I was fifth and then I had a bit of trouble passing Liam Everts for a few laps. There was a four or five second gap with Maxime and in the last 10 minutes, as it was the last race of the year for me, I decided to attack. I caught up with Maxime but it was too late. I would have liked to win, but it’s a team race, so finishing 1 & 2 was already very good”.

Maxime Renaux: “An incredible weekend. I won my qualifying heat on Saturday, I finished 1-3 in my races. I was really hoping the team could win. I had two incredible team-mates this weekend. As Romain said, Tom did a great job. Romain won a race too. We were there to win and I’m glad we were able to do it. It’s never easy, especially as we knew the French fans were waiting for us. I’m happy we’ve got this win, it’s an incredible feeling. I’ve never seen so many people sing for us like that, it was a real emotional moment.

As for the track, as Romain said, they did their job. We even saw Jett fall in the first race and come back from last place. It was a beautiful track, a little hard in places, but that’s the way it is.”

Image: Niek Fotografie