Team France continued its recent dominance of the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations (MXoN) presented by Fiat on a rainy day at Matterley Basin in Winchester, Great Britain, Sunday, earning its fourth consecutive MXoN tite while Great Britain’s Max Anstie put in heroic rides in front of his countrymen to come away with the overall and MXGP-class victories.
As for the USA, the team of Zach Osborne, Cole Seely and Thomas Covington struggled in their effort to mount a challenge for the MXoN title but managed to finish just inside the top 10 by the end of the day on the muddy Matterley Basin track, finishing ninth mostly on the strength of Zach Osborne’s third-place finish in Race 2.
The battle for the MXoN title effectively came down to just two teams–France and the Netherlands, and the French trio of Gautier Paulin, Christophe Charlier, and Romain Febvre was more consistent to have the measure of Netherlands riders Glenn Coldenhoff, Brian Bogers and Herlings. Thanks to Anstie’s excellent performance, he and Great Britain teammates Tommy Searle and Dean Wilson finished third, marking the first podium finish for that country in 20 years.
Race 1: MXGP/MX2
When the first of three motos got underway, Coldenhoff pulled the holeshot, only to be quickly overtaken by Anstie, who did his best to pull clear of the field while Coldenhoff was passed by Team France’s Paulin and Team Switzerland’s Arnaud Tonus. Recently crowned MXGP World Champion Antonio Cairoli was also in the hunt near the front, but he crashed early and would be passed by several riders before he was able to get back underway. Slovenia’s Tim Gajser and Australia’s Hunter Lawrence, the highest running MX2 rider to that point, ran just behind Coldenhoff. Gasjer would pass both Coldenhoff and Tonus to move into third place.
Things went south for the USA in the opening race as Seely suffered bike problems that put him out of the moto. Meanwhile, Osborne did his best to overcome a poor start, and he would work his way up to 10th overall.
Up front, Anstie continued to lead, but Paulin was not far behind him, and with the potential for mistakes on the slippery track, anything could happen. However, Anstie maintained his composure to take the checkered flag first. Gasjer was on the charge, however, and the Slovenian was able to Paulin to take over the second spot before the finish. Paulin held on for third place, but the perhaps the most impressive ride of the moto was turned in by Australia’s Lawrence, who rode his screaming 250 past Tonus on the last lap to finish fourth in the moto, easily outpacing all of the other MX2 competitors. Tonus finished fifth.
However, when the resuls were tallied, France emerged with the early lead on the strength of Paulin’s third-place finish and a respectable 14th-place finish turned in by MX2 rider Charlier, the latter no longer contesting motocross but instead focusing on the FIM Enduro World Championship. Coldenhoff’s eighth-place finish combined with Bogers’ 12th-place finish to move the Netherlands into second place, and Switzerland was third after Tonus finished fifth and teammate Valentin Guillod finished 17th.
Race 2: MX2/Open
Herlings rocketed out of the gate at the start of Race 2, which featured the MX2 and Open class riders, getting underneath France’s Febvre to take the lead. Febvre was also off to a good start, as were Estonia’s Tanel Leok and Australia’s Kirk Gibbs.
Herlings was able to hold off Febvre at the front of the race, the two pulling well clear of Australia’s Gibbs, but Herlings’ win as not assured after he slid out ovcer jump and crashed. Febvre inherited the lead, but Herling was quickly back up and running without losing any more positions.
In the meantime, the USA was in more trouble as Covington fell early in the race and was outside the top 30. Osborne was fairing better as he battled with MX2 competitors Hunter Lawrence and Christophe Charlier. Osborne and Lawrence battled back and forth a few laps before Lawrence moved ahead of Osborne. Lawrence, who ran as high as third at one point, would crash and slip back inside the top 10.
Herlings held on for the moto win over Febvre and Osborne with Lupino taking fourth and Gibbs fifth. Lawrence’s eighth-place finish sealed the MX2 overall win for him as well as the Ricky Carmichael Award for the best new rider of the event.
France continued to lead the MXoN overall ahead of the Netherlands, but Australia had now displaced Switzerland for third in what would prove to be a tight race for the bottom rung of the MXoN podium.
Race 3: MXGP/Open
Anstie was determined to prove that his opening-moto performance was not a fluke, and he grabbed the final holeshot of the day while Febvre moved into second place ahead of Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek. Herlings ran fourth but quickly passed Van Horebeek to move into third place.
Anstie’s hopes for 1-1 moto finishes almost went out the window when he crashed over the same jump that had flummoxed Herlings in the second moto. That gave the lead to Febvre, but Herlings was closing in on the Frenchman again. Paulin, however, was near the front as well, helping to cement France’s position at the top of the MXoN leaderboard. Gasjer was also charging, however, and he was able to pass Paulin halfway through the race.
Meanwhile, the USA’s nightmares continued as Seely dropped in his second moto as well as his first, the victim of a broken shock. Covington also struggled, ultimately mustering a 17th place finish in the moto.
The race at the front remained close as Anstie clearly wanted to win the MXoN overall in front of his countrymen. Anstie attacked Febvre right about the time that the Frenchman elected to toss his goggles and made a mistake, allowing Anstie back into the lead. Herlings also displaced Febvre a lap later to move into second place. Worse yet for Febvre, Herlings blasted the now goggle-less Frenchman with a face full of mud, forcing Febvre to pit for new goggles. Even so, Febvre was far enough ahead of the rest of the field that he never lost a position on the track.
Anstie and the British crowd boisterously backing him proved to be too much for Herlings and the rest of the competition as he took his second race win of the day to take the MXGP overall win while Herlings took the Open overall victory.
“It was unbelievable,” Anstie said. “It was awesome. I tried to race as fast as I could, and the guys rode amazing. This week has been stressful, probably the most stress of all of our lives, but we’ve made the best of it. We’ve kept solid, and it’s an amazing feeling to be on the podium.”
But France scored its fourth MXoN win in a row, an admirable record in light of just how competitive and unpredictable the Matterley track was during the event. According to Paulin, winning the race is a very different feeling than winning a GP.
“The Motocross of Nations is something that you need to live to know how it is,” he said. “Motocross is an individual sport, and you don’t have the same feeling when you ride the MXGP season or similar. Racing here you can talk about lines and other stuff [with your teammates]. Winning the Motocross of Nations mean a lot to be me, but it also means a lot to be able to share it with all the fans and with the French Federation.”
Speaking for the runner-up Netherlands team, Herlings stated, “I think I did a good job, and so did my teammates. I am very proud of them and the whole organization to make this happen. We rode pretty good, but it’s a little disappointing because I worked hard and I really wanted to go 1-1, but I couldn’t.”
2017 FIM Motocross of Nations
Results: October 1, 2017
MXoN Race 1 Top 10 (MXGP/MX2): 1. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), 36:10.357; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:06.251; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:09.398; 4. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Suzuki), +0:41.407; 5. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:44.978; 6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:55.596; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +1:00.247; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +1:08.634; 9. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +1:19.761; 10. Zach Osborne (USA, Husqvarna), +1:31.126
MXoN Standings (after Race 1): 1. France; 2. Netherlands; 3. Switzerland; 4. Belgium; 5. Australia; 6. Estonia; 7. Slovenia; 8. Sweden; 9. Great Britain; 10. Italy.
MXoN Race 2 Top 10 (MX2/Open): 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 37:59.364; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:13.730; 3. Zach Osborne (USA, Husqvarna), +1:38.876; 4. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Honda), +1:40.149; 5. Kirk Gibbs (AUS, KTM), +1:44.122; 6. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Husqvarna), +1:49.117; 7. Dean Wilson (GBR, Husqvarna), +2:01.064; 8. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Suzuki), +2:02.897; 9. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +2:07.211; 10. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +2:28.124.
MXoN Standings (after Race 2):: 1. France; 2. Netherlands; 3. Australia; 4. Switzerland 5. Great Britain; 6. Belgium; 7. Italy; 8. Estonia; 9. Sweden; 10. USA.
MXoN Race 3 Top 10 (MXGP/Open): 1. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), 37:59.163; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:01.108; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +1:00.011; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +1:20.559; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +1:27.401; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +1:36.967; 7. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +1:44.854; 8. Dean Wilson (GBR, Husqvarna), +1:51.593; 9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +2:02.765; 10. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +2:07.648
MXoN Standings (after Race 3): 1. France; 2. Netherlands; 3. Great Britain; 4. Belgium; 5. Switzerland; 6. Australia; 7. Italy; 8. Estonia; 9. USA; 10. Sweden.
For complete results, CLICK HERE.