Moto Moments & Good Sportsmanship

Motocross & Moto2

Motorcycle racing is a tough and brutal thing. Considering the number of riders lining up at starting gates and on grids for points-paying races, the heavy investment by teams gambled to win coveted titles, and the egos and desire of the riders, all focused on winning, it’s easy to understand how emotions can cloud actions.

That said, there have been several examples of exemplary sportsmanship played out in the past few weeks that may have slipped under the radar.

Three weeks ago at Steel City, Pennsylvania for the 11th (2nd to last) round of the AMA Outdoor Motocross series an interesting thing took place. Trey Canard, who was chasing Frenchman Christophe Pourcel for the championship, won the first moto, with Pourcel finishing second.

On the podium, after Canard addressed the crowd, he handed the microphone over to Pourcel. As he started to speak the Frenchman received some boos. Canard jumped back up on stage and took the microphone, telling the crowd that wasn’t right, that Pourcel was a World Champion and deserved respect.

This past week in MotoGP’s new Moto2 class, series leader Toni Elias asked his fellow riders to posthumously elect Shoya Tomizawa-the Japanese rider killed at Misano several weeks back-for the Michel Metraux award, which recognizes an individual that the other riders declare the best.

Elias was the most likely candidate to receive the award but has selflessly galvanized his brothers in arms to ensure that Tomizawa receives it.

Back to motocross for a moment. The AMA outdoor championship wrapped up this past week with rivals Trey Canard and Christophe Pourcel coming into the final round with equal chances of walking away with the title.

In the first moto Canard crashed, allowing Pourcel to get ahead of him, setting the stage for the Frenchman to earn enough points to win the title. A few laps later Pourcel crashed hard, dislocating his shoulder and taking him out of the chase, effectively handing the 250cc Championship Title, which he had worked all season to win, to Canard.

What most people didn’t see was what happened after the races. Christophe Pourcel, his arm in a sling and his shoulder swollen, visited the Honda camp where Canard was celebrating his championship.

The Frenchman congratulated his rival on a good season and winning the title, even asking for one of the championship shirts that had been printed up. They had run out, so Canard gave Pourcel his race helmet, signed; “Thanks for a great season.”

These are the expressions of respect that deserve to be embraced as much as championship titles and race wins. Because at the heart of it, this is the kind of sportsmanship that truly makes it all worthwhile.

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).