International flavor at Washougal MX National

Saturday's motocross features variety of riders

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoDean Wilson, originally from Scotland, gets in some practice laps on the Washougal MX course Friday. He will be competing in the 250 Class today. (Steve Dipaola/For The Columbian)
photoChristophe Pourcel, from France, is in fourth place in the 250 Class points race. (Steve Dipaola/For The Columbian)

If you go

What: 2014 Washougal MX National.

Where: Washougal MX Park, 40205 NE Borin Road.

When: Gates open at 6 a.m. Saturday. Practice and qualifying at 8:30 a.m. Opening ceremonies at 12:30 p.m. Racing begins at 1 p.m.

Tickets: $40 general admission at the gate, cash only. Or buy online at washougalmxpk.com.

TV: Live coverage on NBCSN begins at 3 p.m.

WASHOUGAL — As a youngster, Dean Wilson watched American dirt-bike racing on his television, and he just knew he had to get there one day.

Christophe Pourcel grew up in France and also watched in awe.

Wilson and Pourcel never stopped dreaming, never stopped working toward that goal.

These days, they can each say they have made it in America.

They, along with dozens of other professional riders, are in Washougal this week.

The Washougal MX National, the ninth round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, is Saturday afternoon. More than 20,000 fans are expected to watch an international field.

Three of the top-five finishers in the 250 class a week ago are from Europe. The 450 points leader, Ken Roczen, is from Germany.

Yes, Washougal is hosting the world this week.

Wilson, 22, was born in Scotland, moved to Canada when he was 9, and now lives in California. But on the official results, he lists Glasgow, Scotland, as his hometown.

"We love coming to America," Wilson said. "It's a great country. This is where the best are racing. I'm happy to be racing against all these guys, and that Americans have made us feel welcome."

Pourcel, who now lives in Florida, said he loves how Americans support one another. In France, he said, if he won a race, 50 percent of the country would be happy, the other 50 percent would be against him.

Here, the fans appreciate all the riders, he said.

Pourcel said he has raced in Europe, South America, and Japan, and the U.S. is his favorite place to compete.

Both Wilson and Pourcel were first enamored with Supercross, the winter schedule of dirt-bike racing in America. Those events take place in stadiums, at night, under the lights. Showtime.

Motocross might not be as glamorous, but it is the heart of the sport. Everybody who started riding dirt bikes did it in a backyard or some country layout designed by those who just love the sport. No one starts in a stadium.

Wilson was 3 years old in Scotland when he first got on a dirt bike. His family moved to Canada when he was 9. He just kept riding, kept getting better. He turned professional in 2010, and in 2011 he won the 250 motocross series championship.

Injuries have slowed his progress in recent years, but he is starting to feel strong again.

Wilson, riding for Pro Circuit Kawasaki, missed the first half of this motocross season. He finished fifth last week in Spring Creek, Minn., his best finish of the summer.

Pourcel also has made it big in the states. After recovering from a back injury — he had to learn to walk again — Pourcel won the 2009 and 2010 250 East Supercross championships. His best finish in motocross was second in 2009. He is racing for Yamaha this summer and currently sits in fourth place in the 250 points race.

Pourcel's best finish in Washougal was second place in 2010.

He said he likes the course because it reminds him of a European layout. He called the trees "massive."

Wilson won the second moto at Washougal in 2011 and ended up third in the overall. That was the last time he raced in Washington.

He said he loves the atmosphere. It is the closest event to his old home in Calgary, and he has a number of friends and family members who come to Washougal every year.

"It's definitely a change to where we're usually at," Wilson said. "It's a breath of fresh air."