By John Basher
If Friday night’s Geneva Supercross was any indication of how special this race is the Europeans, then Saturday night was truly special, as a sold-out crowd of 15,000 people nearly blew the roof off the stadium. Saturday showcased the same crazy opening ceremony antics of pompom girls, a Cat stunt driver and fire breathing women in garb right out of the smokers in Water World. Pyrotechnics lit the stadium and club music pounded through the plethora of speakers while lasers sliced through the smoke to rev the crowd up. Explanation alone doesn’t do the circus-like showmanship of the Geneva Supercross justice.
It was clear heading into Geneva that there were a few favorites for the illustrious win. While Geneva lacked the depth in the field of riders, several major stars were sure to battle. However, as the weekend progressed two of the top Americans were relegated to the stands as a result of nagging injuries. It’s true that both Davi Millsaps and Kyle Chisholm were capable of lining up to the starting gate, nerves played the spoiler – just not the nerves you’re probably thinking of. Davi suffered from two pinched nerves in his back, while Kyle had a pinched nerve in his neck that caused him to lose feeling in his hand.
These two absences shouldn’t detract from the top dog at Geneva. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Justin Brayton was flawless in his pursuit of the Geneva crown. After pummeling the field on Friday night, Brayton came through to win both of his heat races with ease and storm into the final. At that point it seemed like his competition was deflated while Brayton’s confidence was peaking. As a result JB took the lead in short order and lapped much of the field. It was an awesome display of impeccable riding from a guy who deserves more appreciation for the fans and media alike, but doesn’t expect it. Simply put, Justin Brayton has humility in spades. He swept every race he entered at Geneva and displayed the grace of a champion.
Brayton was in a different league this weekend, but that’s not to say that the rest of the field was chopped meat. Europeans Gregory Aranda, Fabien Izoird, Arnaud Tonus, Cedric Soubeyras and Christophe Martin were ready for war, and a war is what they had. Soubeyras and Aranda seemed to struggle in the early part of the race, and Cedric actually hit the deck and couldn’t continue. After finishing second on opening night, he was visibly disappointed (and bloody) when pulling off the track mid-race. Christophe Martin bounced back tremendously Saturday night with a second place finish after landing in 10th the first night. He was ecstatic with the runner-up spot.
Gregory Aranda rode well, but he couldn’t stop the Swiss freight train?Arnaud Tonus. Tonus, the Teka/Suzuki rider (whose contract is up at the end of the year), ringed his 250F out for all it was worth in coming from mid pack. Every pass that Tonus made the Swiss folks practically lost their heads cheering. The noise was so deafening that it would have been interesting to have a decibel level reader determine the noise output. Arnaud’s throttle-stretched RM-Z250 couldn’t even drown out the sound of the crowd. The fastest rider on the track Saturday night not named Justin Brayton was Arnaud Tonus. He has been steadily improving in Supercross, and although it’s unlikely that he will come to America to race select Supercross events in 2011, it would interesting to see how he would fare. Arnaud is losing his Teka/Suzuki ride, because title sponsor Teka moved over to the KTM factory team in Europe and Suzuki doesn’t have enough money to keep him. Rumor has it that he will be riding a Yamaha in 2011, but it would be a smart decision for KTM to pick him up, put him on Marvin Musquin’s KTM 250SXF for West coast Supercross, and field Tonus for the GPs.
Based on overall scores, Justin Brayton was the obvious winner (1-1), while Arnaud Tonus was second (5-3) and Frenchman Gregory Aranda (3-5) was third.
I’d like to give my appreciation to Eric Peronnard and the Geneva Supercross staff for their hospitality and kindness throughout the weekend. Although I’ve been to Europe many times for different races and GP’s, I have never attended an overseas Supercross race before Geneva, but the bar has been set very high for any other Supercross I attend in the future. Merci beacoup!
RESULTS: SATURDAY GENEVA SUPERCROSS
1. Justin Brayton…USA
2. Christophe Martin…France
3. Arnaud Tonus…Switzerland
4. Fabien Izoird…France
5. Gregory Aranda…France
6. Angelo Pellegrini…Italy
7. Vince Friese…USA
8. Davide Degli Esposti…Italy
9. Loic Rombaut…France
10. Khounsith Vongsana…France
11. Thomas Ramette…France
12. Josse Sallefranque…France
13. Boris Maillard…France
14. Mike Brown…USA
15. Kilian Auberson…Switzerland
16. Jimmy Peyras…France
17. Cedric Soubeyras…France
18. Cyrille Coulon…France
19. Gregory Wicht…Switzerland
Of the four Americans introduced to the fans on Saturday night, two of them (Kyle Chisholm and Davi Millsaps) were in street attire.
Arnaud Tonus (holding the flag) led the Swiss contingent in Geneva. As you’d imagine, the Swiss fans went bonkers when the trio came out during the opening ceremonies. Killian Auberson (left) is one heck of a 125 two-stroke rider and finished on the podium both nights of the 125 two-stroke race.
Geneva celebrated 25 years of the city’s Supercross race in style.
There were several stars on hand to watch the Geneva race. That’s Jeffrey Herlings (blue hoodie) hanging out with David Knight (left) in the pits before the evening’s festivities.
David Vuillemin was recognized during the opening ceremonies, having won the Geneva race in the past. I can’t understand why he’s holding a French flag, since he said years ago that he insisted he was from Corona, California. Just kidding, DV12.
Moto Concepts rider Vince Friese (45) came to life the second night of racing. He holeshot the opening heat race, swapped paint with Cedric Soubeyras, and challenged for every position.
The fans showed support for their country. Here three girls show their love for America. Okay, not really. There were a lot of French fans in the stands.
Davide Degli Esposti is a solid Supercross racer. He hails from Italy and contests the European Supercross Championships, which Geneva is a part of. Apparently Davide was having health issues this year and struggled a bit.
Christophe Martin caught fire on Saturday night, finishing second in the main event after placing 10th on the opening night. The Frenchman was understandably jubilant in his Saturday performance.
With just over a dozen gates, some riders had to line up behind the first wave of riders. The best gates were to the far left, which is why riders with poor gate choices elected to line up on that side. Justin Brayton’s bread and butter gate choice was third from the left, as it gave him the straightest line into the first turn.
Vince Friese at warp speed.
Cyrile Coulon is another fast Frenchman.
Justin Brayton is Mr. Offseason Supercross. He dominated in Geneva, and it was impressive to watch him fly around the track. He was fastest through the whoops, effortlessly skimming them, and put together rhythm sections with regularity that few others were even able to do. Justin is “Roi de Geneve.”
Cedric Soubeyras wants to race Supercross in America. He has the skills, and he’s young. Cedric could be a diamond in the rough for a team interested in an upstart 250 Supercross racer.
Mike Brown (3) was the middle part of a French sandwich (is that the meat or cheese?) during the main event. Brown finished 14th.
The rider that made a lasting impact this weekend (aside from the obvious riding of Justin Brayton) was Arnaud Tonus. I was impressed with him the first time I saw him ride, which was earlier this year at the Glen Helen USGP. Mark my words, this kid is going places. Hopefully one of those places is America, because he’s talented and nice to deal with.
MXA test rider Dennis Stapleton raced the Geneva event this weekend on a borrowed KX450F from a friend in Denmark. It sure pays to have connections! Stapleton did well in the semi races, but couldn’t put it into the main either night. Dennis plans on practicing for Supercross more in the future and coming back to Switzerland so that he can put ?er in the show. Stapleton had a great time, although he was beaten and battered from all of the times through the whoops. Luckily, he had Jeremy “J-Bone” Albrecht, the team manager at JGR, in his corner to root him on.
To the victor go the spoils. Way to go, JB!