As we continue to cross days off of the 2020 calendar whilst patiently waiting for the world to defeat the virus that has caused a global pandemic, it is interesting to observe the way each individual is handling this unprecedented situation. For riders like Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Gautier Paulin, the confinement is not an issue.
“Personally, I am not completely away from my normal life,” the 30-year-old MXGP star said, “In wintertime, this is how it is for me. I don’t see anyone, I don’t go out, I don’t party, I don’t do anything except for eating and sleeping, family and training. So right now, the only difference is that I don’t see my family, I just facetime with them. I have everything I need to stay fit and in shape and to train in any situation whether that is inside or outside, even for things like if the weather is bad, I will train inside to prevent getting sick and things like that. I can still continue my full physical training, of course, I need to adapt everything because I am someone who loves to do sport outside as much as possible, and I have been this way since I was a kid but together with my trainer we have adapted the plan, but I am still training in the zone I want.”
Unlike most other motorsports, MXGP managed to successfully complete two rounds of the 2020 series, much to the surprise of Paulin who is currently fifth in the Championship Standings, “I saw this coming, not a big pandemic like this as no one could imagine this, but before leaving to GP number one, I told my wife to just get everything we need for the baby in case of emergency because we are always travelling everywhere and in case we get stuck somewhere I wanted to be sure we have all the needs for the little one.
“I was actually surprised to ride the first two GP’s and even more when we were expecting to go to Argentina.
“After Valkenswaard, we had a meeting at 10:15pm with all of the team members and it was at that point we all realised this was serious. I decided directly to stop riding for my own security and also for the security and safety of the mechanics.”
The coronavirus outbreak has certainly thrown a spanner in the works for many top athletes who have thoroughly planned their entire year based on the 20-round calendar that was supposed to run from late February through to the end of September but despite being one of the most structured and meticulous athletes on the grid, Paulin is ready to adapt his regime.
“It will be a tough challenge because I started training really early last winter, but I will be okay” he assured, “we cannot change anything we are dealing with it right now we just need to take it day by day because we don’t know what will happen from day to day, whether we are still locked inside or we can go out, or what. Obviously, the next GP is scheduled for Russia 7th of June. We still have two months, but who says that it will happen? So, I just continue to focus on myself and either way I will be in shape. This is what I have to do for my job, for my goal and actually I love to stay fit anyway, so actually I am making the most of this crazy situation.”
Infront Moto Racing, the promoters of the FIM Motocross World Championship are continuously monitoring the situation and adjusting the calendar where possible. As it stands, 18 rounds still remain with the season stretching all the way to November. The new calendar now includes a never-before run of six Grands Prix in a row in July. “We are now scheduled to race six GP’s in a row and eight in a really small timeframe” he said, “this has never happened before. How the team will handle it, especially with the season looking to end in Argentina or Indonesia or places like that, it’s going to be something really different.
From the business side, it’s really a big deal. But for me, the most important thing is that all of my guys stay healthy, and that all of my family stays healthy. All of the sport and business stuff aside, I am only concentrating on the essential side to this and that is to have everyone safe and healthy. And then for the sports side, I am positive that it would be an advantage for me because I am fit, and I will prepare myself for it.”
The new calendar will also see the biggest and most spectacular motocross event of the year, the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, take place in the middle of the season. “There are so many things we want to do, but we cannot with the problems that the virus has caused.” He stressed, “Motocross of Nations in the middle of the season doesn’t make any sense to me. It has always been at the end of the season and the event is like a big gift to everyone who loves motocross. We celebrate the end of the season proving which nation has the best racers.”
A question mark also hovers over how quickly the riders will be able to get back up to speed once the world resumes and it is safe to ride again, but Paulin is confident he is ready to start again as soon as he is sure that everyone is safe. “I have a bike that I love, so for me, getting back on the bike is no stress.” he boasted, “My bike is done, it is ready, I was already happy with it at the first rounds, this is already a big step. When we can ride again, I will concentrate fully on riding and not on testing or anything like this. How long it will take to be ready on the bike is hard to say because when you start riding there is many things that can happen that can mean we need more time. Things like blisters for example, or small injuries or getting sick. Right now, my biggest worry is what is going to happen if we have to go to Russia for the third round with the virus still being a big threat in the world. I am not worried about being ready to be back on the bike, I am ready. I have been off for more than a month, but I am charged with motivation because I know my bike is ready. My main concern is how to prevent getting sick when we start travelling and racing again because this is going to be like playing poker.”
On a positive note, Paulin and his wife Clementine welcomed their first-born child into the world in May last year and amidst all the drama at present, he feels a sense of calm and peace. “I am so blessed for everything I have right now. All of my people and family are safe, and I am able to enjoy these moments watching my little one grow. It’s really nice. It is the best gift I have ever had, and I feel like it’s a new gift everything that I am incredibly thankful for.”