Paulin points to doubts over future for recent MXGP form

French MXGP star opens up

Gautier Paulin has admitted that thoughts over his future in the FIM Motocross World Championship has played a part in his form of late. The Frenchman has not walked the podium since round eleven in Ottobiano in June and has posted overall results of 7-8-7-11 in the four races since. The 28 year old has dropped to sixth in the MXGP standings after having been a firm contender for a top three slot behind the Red Bull KTMs of Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli.

“The transfer part of the season is a tough one,” he said exclusively. “I am someone who puts a lot into training and when I am not free in the mind it can be tough. It is taking a long time this year and I can see that on the paper.”

Paulin has been linked to another team switch away from his current Rockstar Energy IceOne Husqvarna crew with the satellite Wilvo Yamaha a rumoured destination. #21 cannot return to the factory HRC fold and with his former team Monster Energy Kawasaki also full for 2019 his options are limited. There was talk that the popular and stylish racer could move to the USA or even contemplate racing in Australia next year.

“It’s a small paddock so there are rumours all day long,” he said. “On one side I’m happy that people I have been working with in the past have opened the doors. I’m really clear and transparent in what I do. I feel that as a rider it would sometimes be nice to have a bit more confidence from people. I’m really focussed on what I do but when I see the paper [results] I am not where I want to be.”

The Grand Prix winner with four brands (Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda and Husqvarna in chronological order) was quick to credit his current IceOne squad but hinted that an element was missing from his competitive package, and his indecision regarding his next career commitment was detrimental. “Riders like Tony and Jeffrey are ‘free’ and they can ride on, be strong and go forever,” he commented. “To live with them you need to be 100% in all areas. Right now I’m at 99. I really love my bike and the crew and I feel healthy but I have other things to take care of and this takes energy.”

For all the turbulence of the last weeks Paulin is adamant that he has the thirst to succeed in MXGP. “I am training hard, working hard and my private life is awesome and I still have the feeling that I really want to get behind the gate to race,” he insisted. “Some people ride and need a bit of ego to go fast: I don’t need that. I know what I can do and I don’t need to make an Instagram story to show I am working hard. When I feel stiff on the bike then the only thing I see is ‘the background’. I still have full motivation for MXGP.”

Last week Team France controversially announced their line-up for the 2018 Motocross of Nations with AMA 450MX race winner Marvin Musquin left out of the trio that includes the undefeated Paulin, Romain Febvre and Dylan Ferrandis. Despite his recent travails Paulin has been something of a talisman for the ‘tricolor’ and stands as one of the most successful athletes in the 71 year history of the competition. “The goal has always been the to make the best team and up until now I have been part of that,” he offered several days before publication of the rider list to try and win the Chamberlain trophy for the fifth time. “It’s their choice [the French Federation] but when there are so many good French riders I just want to see the best team for the country. My record helps but I like to be humble in life. I’m part of what we have achieved and that is just a fact. They did it with my help and I did it with their help and we’ve been building a strong relationship. We have achieved some big goals and dreams and we want to continue. Being in the USA with the red plate and defending the title again is the big dream. We’ve done it four times and once in France, now we have a new challenge.”

Photos by Ray Archer

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