The first night of racing in Paris is complete. There was a considerable amount of pre-race hype, ahead of what promised to be an unpredictable programme, and what transpired lived up to those expectations. It was a great night of racing, yet there is still a sense of what could have been. First-turn crashes robbed the fans of the battles that were dreamed about.
Justin Barcia was the benefactor of that and got the SX1 overall on night one via results that improved with each race. Was he the fastest rider in the premier division? No, but he was the only guy who had a scorecard that resembled consistency of any kind. The fact that Vince Friese on the second step had more than double the amount of points really enforces that statement. It is actually worth noting that these points carry into tomorrow as well, so it would really take some kind of disaster for Barcia to not be named the King of Paris.
It was always going to be tricky to name a favourite to take the main-event win, but Malcolm Stewart was the most deserving of that title. Stewart got caught out by first lap falls in two of the main events but won the other in a dominant fashion, despite some hiccups along the way. It was far from smooth sailing tonight and it is therefore unlikely that he will win the overall, but his circle can be very encouraged by his form on the chewed-up surface. There is no doubt that he would have been a deserving winner and, hey, maybe a bit of luck will go his way tonight?
Joey Savatgy, Dylan Ferrandis and Malcolm Stewart are not quite out of this thing but do need help to catch Barcia. All it would take is for Barcia to get caught up in one of those first turn crashes though. It is not over yet! Speaking of Ferrandis and first turn crashes, he was the one who caused the massive one in sprint two. Ferrandis got pinched off by Savatgy but ran it in too hot and basically caused a domino effect. It was very clear from our vantage point that Savatgy had the line so no blame can fall on his shoulders, although there are some who are leaning that way.
Did anything else happen of note on the first night? Jeremy Martin gets the award for most improved from practice to the night show. The whoops were eating him alive on Saturday afternoon, but he picked it back up in the races and actually could have won one – his starts were on point and he kept putting himself in a position to succeed. Had he won just one heat it would have been quite the feel-good story: Remember he is still a little rusty after not racing for sixteen months. This is just his second race back. The Monster Energy Cup was the first and that too was encouraging.
The second night of racing will begin shortly, as the programme is run a lot earlier on day two. Fans will still be waiting for unpredictable racing – that much is guaranteed – but all eyes will be on Barcia to see if he slips up. Winning the King of Paris title would be big for him too, as he has not had the easiest time of it in recent weeks. A bit of positive momentum would go a long way.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer