Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing released a statement regarding the performances of its factory team riders as they represented their respective countries at the 71st FIM Motocross of Nations (MXoN) at Matterley Basin, in Great Britain, on October 1. The press release delivers the usual positive spin on the Husky boys, and in some instances it’s warranted, But here’s one item you won’t read in the release, and it pertains to USA team member Thomas Covington.
The MX2 contender and three-time GP winner was obviously a big question mark when his name was announced to the team, although his FIM Motocross World Championship experience had to be considered a plus. However, Covington was slated to ride a 450cc machine rather than his usual 250cc machine in the Open class while USA team member Zach Osborne focused on the MX2 class. Covington clearly struggled aboard his factory Husqvarna FC 450, although his lack of experience on the bigger bike may not have been the real issue.
Covington posted on Instagram that he tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in qualifying prior to the motos on Sunday. Despite what was likely a painful injury, he gritted it out and managed to finish both motos in his class, finishing 22nd in his first moto and 17th in the second moto. With the DNFs posted by USA teammate Cole Seely in both motos, Covington’s scores had to be counted, and but for an excellent third-place finish by teammate Osborne in Race 2, where Osborne finished third overall, the USA might not even have cracked the top 10. The USA finished ninth.
Here’s the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna press release:
Enjoying a highly successful 71st edition of the Motocross of Nations in the United Kingdom, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team saw Max Anstie earn two impressive moto victories while Gautier Paulin and Christophe Charlier played key roles in helping Team France secure their fourth consecutive MXoN victory.
With thousands of fans from all-around the world filling the hillsides around the Matterley Basin track, the 2017 Motocross of Nations lived up to all expectations as the most prestigious event in the annual motocross calendar.
Leading Team France to an incredible fourth consecutive overall MXoN victory was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin. Wrapping up his debut season aboard Husqvarna’s FC 450 machine, Paulin collected impressive 3-6 moto results in the United Kingdom.
“Winning the Nations is a crazy feeling that never gets old,” Paulin said. “This is such a special event with fans and spectators traveling from all parts of the word to see us race. I really want to thank my teammates Christophe Charlier and Romain Febvre. They did a great job and the overall win belongs to all three of us. The atmosphere this year has been amazing. As for me, it feels great to be able to get a fourth consecutive win with the team. I did my best to secure two good results in the final motos and I made it happen. I loved every moment of this year’s Motocross of Nations.”
Christophe Charlier proudly represented Team France in the MX2 category. Enjoying an impressive return to motocross competition, he raced his FC 250 machine to 14-6 results in the two motos. Helping secure overall victory for France, Charlier completed an incredible feat having won the 2017 Motocross of Nations and the 2017 International Six Days Enduro with Team France.
“I’m over the moon with this victory, especially for me focusing all my efforts this season into the EnduroGP World Championship,” Charlier said. “It’s been a crazy experience coming back to the pinnacle of motocross competition. The Nations is always a huge event, and this season it seemed that it was even more spectacular. As for me, I spent the last couple of weeks training on the FC 250 machine, and it all worked out pretty well here in the UK. I got 14th in the first moto and then managed to improve to sixth in moto two. It’s been a crazy journey, and it feels amazing to have now won the ISDE and the Nations during the same season.”
Putting in two remarkable moto performances on home soil, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie topped the MXGP category at the 2017 Motocross of Nations. Winning both the opening MXGP/MX2 moto as well as the final Open/MXGP race, Anstie also helped Team Great Britain secure a spot on the overall podium in third overall behind France and The Netherlands.
“Getting two moto wins and seeing our team finish on the podium is an amazing feeling,” Anstie said. “My teammates and myself have done well this weekend. We all put in a great effort into the Nations and it’s great to bring Team GB on the box in front of our home crowd. For me these two moto wins feel like a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to get a win in the MXGP class, and now I’ve got two victories at the most prestigious event of the season. In moto one I got the lead quite early and just tried to stay focused and hit my lines correctly. Then in moto two we had a good battle with Febvre, and eventually I managed to come out on top. It’s an unreal feeling.”
Playing his own part in assisting Team Great Britain secure third overall was Anstie’s teammate Dean Wilson. Returning to Europe after a solid season of US SX and MX competition, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider collected 7-8 moto results at the muddy Matterley Basin track.
“It was a pretty tough weekend with the weather changing on Sunday,” Wilson said. “Conditions were treacherous on the track, and it was easy to make mistakes. I got seventh in my first moto and then eighth in the second. It was nothing spectacular, but we managed to bring Team Great Britain on the podium. Max [Anstie] did an amazing job this weekend getting two solid victories, and our teammate Tommy [Searle] rode well too. It’s good that we managed to bring our team on the box for the first time after 20 years. It’s pretty exciting.”
Proudly representing Team USA, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne was a force to be reckoned with in the MX2 category. Securing an impressive MX2 qualifying race victory on Saturday, Osborne battled to a 10th place result in the opening MXGP/MX2 moto. Coming back even stronger in the second MX2/Open combined race, the FC 250 powered rider kept charging hard to eventually cross the line in third position. Osborne claimed the runner-up spot in the MX2 class’ final standings.
“I was happy to be back racing on familiar British soil,” Osborne said. “I did my best in the qualifying moto and was happy to get away with the win. Then on Sunday my performance was good. I didn’t get a good rhythm in the opening moto and following a small crash I had to settle for 10th at the line. In the second moto I felt much better and managed to make some good passes in the last few laps for third. I’m satisfied with second overall in the MX2 class. For Team USA it was a tough weekend, but I am sure we will come back fighting for next year.”
Switching to the FC 450 machine Thomas Covington kicked off his weekend at Matterley Basin with a seventh-place result in the Open qualifying race. Suffering mediocre starts in both final motos, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider claimed 22-17 results in the two final motos. Covington, together with teammates Zach Osborne and Cole Seeley, brought Team USA home in ninth position in the Nation’s final standings.
“I was looking forward to representing Team USA for the first time in my career,” Covington said. “My speed was good on the 450 machine, but things didn’t work out for me in any of the final motos. I got a bad start in my first moto and then went down three times during the race. My bars and levers were bent, so I just did my best to finish the race. Then in the second moto I wasn’t able to get a good start again. I tried to come back as closer as possible to the top but had to settle for 17th at the line.”
Collecting two top 10 moto results in the British mud, Thomas-Kjer Olsen assisted Team Denmark in securing 11th position in the Nation’s final standings. Claiming ninth in the opening MXGP/MX2 combined moto, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team rookie wrapped up the weekend with 10th in the second MX2/Open race.
“It was a challenging weekend here in England,” Kjer-Olsen said. “The track was technical, and the rain made it muddy for the final motos on Sunday. I didn’t get the best of starts but put in some good lap times and made a few good passes during both motos. My goal was to be top 10 in both motos, and I managed to finish ninth and 10th. I’m pretty happy with my riding as well, as it’s been a bit better than it was during the last few GPs. Overall, it’s been a positive weekend for me, and I’m already looking forward to the coming season.”
Racing for Team Germany, Max Nagl was unable to contest Sunday’s final motos due to a hand injury the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider picked up during the MXGP qualifying moto.
Results – FIM Motocross of Nations 2017
Nations Final Classification
1. France – 20pts
Gautier Paulin (Husqvarna), Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna), Romain Febvre (Yamaha)
2. The Netherlands – 31pts
Jeffrey Herlings (KTM), Glenn Coldenhoff (KTM), Brian Bogers (KTM)
3. Great Britain – 32pts
Max Anstie (Husqvarna), Dean Wilson (Husqvarna), Tommy Searle (Kawasaki)
Husqvarna Riders Individual Moto Finishes
Race 1 (MXGP + MX2)
1. Max Anstie (Husqvarna) 12 laps, 36:10.357… 3. Gautier Paulin (Husqvarna) 36:19.755… 9. Thomas Kjer-Olsen (Husqvarna) 37:30.118; 10. Zach Osborne (Husqvarna) 37:41.483… 14. Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna) 38:24.938… 16. Rui Goncalves (Husqvarna) 38:30.346… 19. Henry Jacobi (Husqvarna) 11 laps, 36:35.301… 20. Harri Kullas (Husqvarna) 36:38.634.
Race 2 (MX2 + Open)
3. Zach Osborne (Husqvarna) 39:38.240… 6. Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna) 39:48.481… 7. Dean Wilson (Husqvarna) 40:00.428… 10. Thomas Kjer-Olsen (Husqvarna) 40:27.488… 11. Tanel Leok (Husqvarna) 40:35.876… 22. Thomas Covington (Husqvarna) 12 laps, 38:51.676… 26. Harri Kullas (Husqvarna) 40:20.623… 30. Iker Larranaga (Husqvarna) 11 laps, 38:05.467.
Race 3 (Open + MXGP)
1. Max Anstie (Husqvarna) 13 laps, 37:59.163… 6. Gautier Paulin (Husqvarna) 39:36.130… 8. Dean Wilson (Husqvarna) 39:50.756… 14. Tanel Leok (Husqvarna) 12 laps, 38:10.992… 16. Rui Goncalves (Husqvarna) 38:13.794… 17. Thomas Covington (Husqvarna) 38:14.438… 24. Iker Larranaga (Husqvarna) 40:16.980.