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France soar to Motocross of Nations triple after Maggiora drama

Sep 262016

The triumvirate of Monster Energy Yamaha’s Romain Febvre, Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel and HRC’s Gautier Paulin helped give 85,000 fans a rollicking show and cause for jubilation today by hoisting the Chamberlain trophy from the top of the podium at the 2016 MXoN in Italy. The Monster Energy Motocross of Nations presented by Fiat Professional slammed into the wonderfully scenic Maggiora Park circuit and reams of spectators from a myriad of territories created a swirl of noise, vibrancy, colour and atmosphere as the world’s biggest off-road motorcycle race was once again essential viewing. First created in 1947 the ‘World Cup’ of the sport returned to a spiritual home north of Milan with memories of Team USA’s 1986 iconic success now part of motocross folklore and fabric. Instead of the red, white and blue of the stars and stripes it was the tricolour of France that ruled the spectacle for the third year in succession and since they first triumphed in 2001.

“I got Searle on the last lap but when I passed the pitlane they had written ‘2nd place’ on the board. I was like ‘Damn; just one point…’ I crossed the finish line and everyone was saying ‘”You won! You won” and I still didn’t believe it,” said Febvre, who rounded-off a difficult 2016 season where a mid-season concussion ruined a strong title defence. “The first race was really nice and I made a good rhythm. It had been a long time since I led a moto like that so it was a good feeling. Last year was my first Nations so it was really special but I’ve taken experience. Benoit rode well and Gautier has been here many times but overall it is great for everyone to keep this place.”

 

Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek was the top MX2 athlete and took the lively YZ250F to fifth position in the first moto; a considerable achievement against a raft of 450cc motorcycles. He was just denied sixth in another last lap attack – this time by Britain’s Shaun Simpson – in his second appearance and then had to watch as the Flemish would miss out on another rostrum celebration to Team USA by just three points.

“Mixed feelings,” JVH said. “I think I have been eight times on the podium with Team Belgium. I won today but it is a pity that I’m not on the podium again. I had a lot of fun today and the crowd was really awesome. What can I say? I have to ‘give’ this one also to my [Yamaha] team and Michele [Rinaldi] for that fantastic 250; without that, I think winning was almost impossible.”

 

Pressure fell onto Cooper Webb’s shoulders and the AMA 250MX & SX Champion made it up to fifth with two laps to go until he dropped the Yamaha on a heavily cambered turn and dropped to tenth, effectively letting Holland and France duke out the mad scramble for points and prizes.

 

Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Arnaud Tonus filled a strong role to help Switzerland to sixth overall (tying with Italy for fifth) and Searle’s fifth place in the third race was the best finish for the UK. “I feel alright about today even if I had a bit of arm-pump. It was hard to pass on this track so it was an advantage to be out front from the start,” said Tonus after just his second major meeting on the KX450F. “I did my best and maybe I was not in the best shape on the 450 but overall it was alright. This year was really close. It was really cool to ride here and a lot of Swiss guys were in the crowd and I could feel the push. It was really nice. I always want to do better…but that was the best I could do today.”

 

“There was a lot of good company in that last race so I was happy with fifth,” commented recently crowned British Champion Searle. “It's the best-of-the-best out there and it helped with the start I had.”

 

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