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Final race day at Matterley Basin MXoN

3 reasons why the 2018 Motocross of Nations will be ‘unmissable’

Oct 032018

For 71 years the curiosity of off-road motorcycle fans has drifted to one race and one set time on the yearly calendar. The Motocross of Nations is not only drenched-deep in history, it is virtually unique: the only team-based one-day event in motorsport.

From the earliest editions run on the scramble tracks of Holland, Britain, Belgium and Sweden to the behemoth it is today, the ‘MXoN’ or the ‘Nations’ is still the annual highlight for several reasons. There is patriotism (the only time where three riders ditch their individual ambitions and unite under a flag and fans cheer their country rather than a particular favourite on the track). The spectacle (the best riders in the world have been selected to wear their nation’s colours and the results usually go down to the last laps of the final moto). The place (normally at the best and most iconic MX circuits or places on a global scale). The cosmopolitan (typically more than 30 countries try to make the 20 cut-off mark for the grand show on Sunday). The history (Team USA holds the record for the most victories but the MXoN is a connecting showpiece from the very first days and daring of the sport – everyone who is anyone has raced the MXoN) and the sense of occasion. This is the big one, and the spectators respond en mass with flags, flares, noise, colours. It is an annual carnival and celebration of motocross.

2018 sees the contest land on American shores for the first time this decade and for the third occasion since 2007. The scenic RedBud circuit in Michigan will be the motocross ‘honeypot’ this week so we decided to highlight three reasons why the 72nd Monster Energy Motocross of Nations cannot be missed.

1. Time to stand up and be counted


Six years of hurt? From 2005 until 2011 and with legends of the sport like Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey in full flight, Team USA were the undisputed kings of the Nations. That last victory on the steep slopes of St Jean D’Angely in France in ’11 feels like a long time ago. There were close calls: in 2016 the Americans were sitting pretty among the hoards of visitors to Maggiora in Italy but when Jason Anderson was landed upon while celebrating a second race victory the chances of success went off the track with the stricken current Supercross champion.


Now is the time. On home turf and in a passionate zone of the USA for motorcycle racing (RedBud hosts one of the most popular rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro National series) Team USA have the circumstances, the backing, the momentum and the talent to reclaim the large Chamberlain Cup. The line-up includes the national champion – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac – as well as the 250 #1 Aaron Plessinger. The experience of Monster Energy Yamaha’s Justin Barcia completes a very capable trio that are already odds-on.


Team USA have faced adversity through the challenge of the circuits in recent years. The Nations last visited the U.S. in 2010 and since then the three selected riders for the stars and stripes have had to deal with the stony hard-pack of France in 2011, the deep sand of Lommel (Belgium) in 2012, the narrow hard-pack of Teutschenthal in 2013 (Germany), the loamy soil of Kegums (Latvia) in 2014, more stone-laden hard stuff at Ernee (France) in ’15, tight hills and bumps of Maggiora (Italy) in 2016 and then the heavy and wet ooze of Matterley Basin (UK) twelve months ago. RedBud is familiar ground. With Tomac back leading the charge and expecting to go head-to-head with outright MXGP World Champion Jeffrey Herlings then the possibilities for Team USA have rarely been more exciting and anticipated.

2. Champions adversity


Monster Energy Yamaha’s Romain Febvre sustained an injury at the Grand Prix of Turkey in September that cast the #461 out of Team France and a squad that had ruled the Nations since 2014. Febvre was undefeated at the MXoN; he made an emphatic debut in his world championship winning year in 2015 and hasn’t sampled any other view from the Nations podium apart from the highest. The French hustled to replace the Yamaha man with Jordi Tixier; a former MX2 world champion but a rider who has also struggled with injury in 2018. In 2017 France used Christophe Charlier, an ex-Grand Prix athlete since converted to the Enduro World Championship, to show that the sum of their parts is what really counted. The same effect could occur at RedBud with Tixier as ‘Les Blues’ once again carry the weight of those #1, #2 and #3 plates. Among the number is Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis; fresh from an impressive American campaign in supercross and motocross and back in the Nations frame for the first time since he helped with that victory at the start of the run in 2014.


Finally fit and ready for a Nations reappearance Ferrandis will be one of the principal riders in an MX2 class that will also feature Yamaha teammate Plessinger, MX2 World Champion Jorge Prado, Australia’s Hunter Lawrence and Kemea Yamaha’s Ben Watson (world #4 and a debutant for Team GBR) among others.


France has been weakened. That's for sure. But their pedigree is proven. Tixier, Ferrandis and Gautier Paulin will have to harness that winning experience to deal with the Americans, a very strong Dutch threat, perennial podium finishers Belgium and maybe also the UK with Watson accompanied by Tommy Searle and Max Anstie. Don’t forget Germany as well with Ken Roczen and high profile returnee to the fray since he last raced in 2013.


Since the start of the century only Belgium, Italy, USA, France and Germany have won at the Nations. Will it be the turn of a new ruler?

3. The stage


There are fewer more appropriate venues in the United States than RedBud. The sweeping layout of the course and the associated prestige (thanks to an ever-present position as part of the domestic

motocross championship since the early 1970s) means the circuit – located east of Chicago and in the town of Buchanan - is immediately identifiable on an international level. This weekend RedBud becomes the ‘Monaco’ of motocross. In other words a track that inspires awe and becomes the focal point for the industry.


Don’t forget to watch for the daunting ‘LaRocco’s Leap’: one of the most famous jumps in motocross.

Co-owner Amy Ritchie talked about the “wonderful crowd with great energy” that she saw at Matterley Basin last September and with sold out camping and spectators areas the Nations is set for another tremendous episode.