Sebastien Tortelli

Sebastien Tortelli

Sebastien Tortelli (born August 19, 1978 in Agen, France) is a two-time World Champion motocross racer. A longtime factory-sponsored rider, Tortelli has been a top ranked rider in both AMA National and Supercross competition, as well as the European-based Motocross Grand Prix World Championships.

Early European success

During his early career in Europe on the Grand Prix motocross racing circuit, Tortelli made his Grand Prix debut in 1994 and won the 1996 125cc FIM World Motocross Championship, riding for Jan DeGroot's factory Kawasaki team. Tortelli had caught the eye of the motocross world with his aggression and incredible cornering speed. He graduated to the 250cc ranks of the GPs for 1997. While that year was plagued by some frightening high-speed crashes, Tortelli claimed several overall victories against perennial Grand Prix champion Stefan Everts. The next season would be much different.

In January 1998, at a one-off Supercross appearance in Los Angeles, California, Tortelli showed his incredible speed to the American public with a surprise victory. Tortelli planned to move to the United States to contest the AMA circuit in 1999, but first, he had a World Championship to win that summer.

In an epic, season-long battle, Tortelli and Everts traded the points lead multiple times, with one rider typically finishing just ahead of the other. The title fight went down to the final round in Greece, and it was Tortelli who shouldered the pressure, won the race and claimed the 1998 250cc World Championship. Everts was left reeling from the defeat, and several seasons would pass before he would again see the same level of success.

American career

Sebastien followed his long-time career goal and emigrated to America for the 1999 season, as a full factory rider for Team Honda. He struggled somewhat through that supercross season, saving himself for the outdoors. At the season opener in San Bernardino, CA, Tortelli came from behind in both motos, passing Jeremy McGrath and Kevin Windham to sweep the 250cc National in his very first try. He led the points standings most of the summer until he was injured in a crash with Doug Henry at Unadilla.

Tortelli improved further for 2000, scoring a strong 6th in Supercross and battling with Ricky Carmichael tooth-and-nail through the outdoor season, where he eventually finished second. It is Tortelli's best overall season in America to date. The next five full seasons would produce similar results, with Tortelli consistently placing top 5 in both Supercross and Nationals. He raced for Team Suzuki from 2003 through the 2005 season, and was so stricken with knee and wrist injuries that he was unable to complete an entire season. Whenever he was at the racetrack, Sebastien Tortelli's speed was always there.

Return to Europe

Tortelli signed with KTM for the 2006 and 2007 season. The aim of his new deal was to beat his old rival Stefan Everts in the MX1 World Championship, and claim KTM's first World title in that category.

After some early battles with Everts, Tortelli's 2006 season came to abrupt end when he crashed during the Portuguese round of the championship, dislocating his hip and ruling him out for the remainder of the season.

Whilst Everts rode on effectively unchallenged to his final world title, rumours linked Tortelli with a move back to America in 2007. However, with Tortelli struggling to regain fitness, he announced his retirement from professional motocross in December 2006.

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