Sebastien Tortelli Bio: My Favourite Motocross Rider
Sebastien Tortelli is my all time favourite motocross rider. As a kid I was obsessed with motocross and can vividly remeber the bikes and clothing of the early 90's era. I was lucky enough to have a few motocross bikes as a kid and got to ride most weekends. Back then there was very little to see of motocross on UK television which probably fuelled my obsession as I couldn't get enough motocross! What we did have over here was Dirt Bike Rider magazine. I remember using all my pocket money to buy it. In 1995 Britain got Cable ( Remember your street being dug up? ) and I now had Eurosport. The 95 Paris Bercy Supercross introduced me to Sebastien Tortelli. I became a fan of Tortelli when he won the 1996 125 GP championship at the age of 17 (Which is still the youngest rider to win the 125 Championship ) on his bright green Kawasaki. I love that 1996 125 Kawasaki bike with the fat number 3 decal. I want to make a replica of this bike in the near future. I vividly remeber the issue DBR covered when Sebastien Tortelli won the 1998 250 FIM World Champsionship, on his 250 Oxbow Kawasaki at the Greece GP. This was a great race as the championship went down to the last GP in Greece. Tortelli rode in his usual style putting on loads of pressure forcing Stefan Everts in to a mistake and Everts going down. So why is he my favourite rider and not Jeremy McGrath, Jeff Emig, Pastrana, or Carmichael? Tortelli was a demon rider, he rode so hard and fast, his style was like no other, he stood out. He also crashed hard and fast which plagued him throughout his racing career.
Sebastien Tortelli was Born 19 August 1978 in Agen France. He burst on to the European motocross at the Young age of 16 in 1994 part way through the season taking the 125cc Championship in 1996. He is best known for riding for Factory Kawasaki but Has road briefly for Honda and Suzuki and then on to KTM where he has stayed even after his racing retirement. His style was aggressive and fast. Tortelli didn't care for consistency here was there to win. Unfortunately Tortelli crashed way too often due to his all out riding style. I remember on a motocross crash video I had the commentator pointing out Tortelli is up and running to his bike before it had actually even stopped, evem though he'd just had a heavy off. That was Supercross though and crashes are slower. His Motocross offs usually put him out of the race.
In 1995 Tortelli rode for France in the motocross des nations, still only 16 years old. He was Frances's 125 rider, riding a KX 125 with the number 9 plate and wearing his furture trademark Oxbow camoflage jersey and pants. In the first race it was the 125's and 500's. You might think the 500's would leave the 125 for dust. They didn't, Tortelli finished a close 5th in the race and winning the 125 class beating champion Stefan Everts who was also in the 125 class. Scoring 1 point for France ( The best result for your class ). Tortelli was rapid in this race, if he was on a 250 he would have won the race no doubt about it. The second heat was 125's and 250's. A mirror of the first race resulted with Tortelli finishing top 5 and winning the 125 class with Everts in 2nd again. Tortelli''s pace was being mentioned in many of the interviews with other riders. Ryan Hughes dismissed Tortelli's speed as a 1 hit wonder and put it down to Tortelli having a good day. You can find the 1995 Motocross Des Nations on Youtube and make your own mind up.
The one to watch. Tortelli showing the US who's BOSS.
In 1999 Sebastien Tortelli was offered a Factory Honda ride in the AMA Motocross championship. Honda pinned their hopes on Tortelli taking the title back for Honda. Europe tracks are completely different than tracks in the US so riders find it hard to do the transition. Lucky for me Channel 5 showed AMA motocross races albeit 3 in the morning. When I saw in the TV listing description that it was Sebastien Tortelli's Debut I had to watch it, even thouh it was a school night. You Could hear in the commentary that they didnt know too much about him. The other thing that was totally new to Tortelli was that they were using concrete starts in the US. I knew this could be a hurdle as the starts are everything. The race begun and Tortelli doesn't get a great start. The top US riders Windham, McGrath are upfront. There's a crash in the first turn, the favourites get through but Tortelli gets stuck behind the crash and is put right to the back of the pack. I've added the video of this race to the right here and if you have never seen it's definitely worth watching! In Moto 2 Tortelli makes a better start but is taken out on the first turn and is dead last. This was awesome debut race for Tortelli and confirmed why Honda had him ride for them.
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