Forty years after...

2018 . 1978

In 1978 and 1979, Sonauto went viral when they engaged a Yamaha 750 TZ in the Bol d’Or. Not only did the company focus the attention of the spectators and the media on its Grand Prix motorcycles, during these two editions Sonauto organised a motocross in the circuit Paul Ricard area, just next to the Mistral straight. Attracted by the opportunity to run a MX and see the Bol d’Or, I participated at these two events reserved for Yamaha 125 YZ pilots. For the first time in France, a motocross circuit was equipped with a double jump and, in my memory, Charles Coutard, then in the top three of the trial world championships, thrashed the hell out of us with his memorable victory …

On Saturday night, I was on the roof of the huge building above the pitlane. At that time, speed racing attracted me, but I only had eyes for motocross. I breathed motocross, I lived only for the cross. In this particular moment, as I watched the big Honda RCB, Kawasaki Performance and Yamaha TZ pierce the night, I wondered what sensations their drivers were feeling… I imagined something huge, but I was not sure.
40 years later, here I am back on the same circuit, registered in the Bol d’Or Classic, riding a Yamaha FZ, an almost contemporary motorcycle of the time. After a first life as a cross rider, then twice finisher of the Baja 1000 California, I start a new life of a road racer. I experimented first with the Bol d’Or Classic 2013 with Christophe Gaime, the boss of the Moto Revue Classic as teammate, where I experienced both the best and the worst it could throw at me. This year, my goal was to only experience the best.
With hindsight, I realize that I arrived on the testing session fearing the track. I had heard so many legends about this circuit, impressive stories about the speed at the end of the straight-line of the Mistral, the difficulty of correctly passing the curve of Signes, of the technicality of the double right of Le Beausset… Today, I love parts of this circuit! Every turn, every brake, every acceleration, the magic of racing at night, the happiness of the lap of honor… Please note that I’m not resentful, this track is not offered for free and, how should I say it?… I still have huge margins of progress in all sectors! However, when I start to get into the rhythm and make high speed an ally, I’m living 100 % in the present, I feel furiously alive! For a novice, driving on the Paul Ricard circuit in race conditions is a breathtaking experience…

Thanks to the Bol d’Or, I had the unusual chance of racing at Le Castellet in motocross and on the track (please allow me to be proud of this…). The 2018 edition marked the birth of SuperBolide, the “classic” team that I had dreamed of creating for such a long time. And especially now, I finally know how the Bol d’Or drivers felt on that night of September 1978. So, during the Bol d’Or Classic night race, while accelerating above the big building, I waved a hand at someone on the roof under the pitlane. This young man I greeted with indulgence was the crossman I was in 1978. I know, it’s stupid … but if, at the time, I was told that 40 years later, I would be racing on this legendary track, I would have immediately have said ‘Yes, bring it on’!