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The greatest event of the year – the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations – has been run and won at the iconic Maggiora circuit in Italy last weekend. The 70th edition went down as one of the most eventful in recent years, with chaos and drama fulfilling the day’s proceedings as France went onto claim their third consecutive Chamberlains Trophy.
Team France were always a favourite to win this year’s event, and their display of commanding performances throughout Saturday’s qualifying that awarded them pole position reinforced their strength as a team. The Belgian squad was equally as strong qualifying in second, while The Netherland’s also stood a chance of capturing their first MXoN victory after they completed Saturday’s racing in third.
As for Team Australia who qualified in eighth, their performance showed they were on track to improve on last year’s result. Many suggested that the USA sent over their ‘B team’, consisting of Cooper Webb, Alex Martin and Jason Anderson. Although that statement couldn’t be further from the truth, despite the team struggling with a series of unfortunate circumstances on Saturday, qualifying back in 15th position.
Sunday’s opening moto saw MXGP and MX2 representatives from each country combined together, with Italy’s very own Antonio Cairoli leading the way in the opening stages. France’s Romain Febvre was on an unstoppable charge, making several valuable passes to latch onto Cairoli by the halfway mark, making the all-important pass stick as he then went onto claim the first win of the day.
Cairoli settled into second, finishing comfortably ahead of Belgian’s Kevin Strijbos. USA’s Webb put in a thrilling performance, coming from outside of the top 10 to completing the 30-minute plus two-lap race in fourth. Belgian Jeremy Van Horebeek was the first MX2 rider to cross the line in fifth, as Australia’s Todd Waters claimed seventh despite a mistake which cost the Queenslander multiple positions. Fellow Australian Mitch Evans was credited 35th on debut at just 17 years of age.
Race two was when the chaos and drama unfolded, however it didn’t occur until moments after the race was completed. American Jason Anderson hit the lead with recently crowned MX2 world champion and Open class representative for The Netherlands Jeffrey Herlings in tow, who was commencing his fulltime career aboard the 450 at Maggiora. In a matter of laps, the pair engaged in an electrifying battle, although Anderson was never going to allow the Dutchman to pass him easily. As the laps ticked away and the race crossed the halfway mark, Herlings made a critical mistake while applying pressure on the American, sliding out and losing a significant amount of time.
This allowed Anderson win the race comfortably, although his day was drastically changed as he rolled over the finish line celebrating his win, only for a lapped rider to hit the jump and collect the American on his descent. Anderson was immediately treated by medical staff, however was later deemed unfit to race the final moto. While the incident stole the attention of the second race, Gautier Paulin (France), Arnaud Tonus (Switzerland) and Dean Ferris (Australia) entered in a three-way battle for third, with the trio all making passes on each other at some stage of the race to finish third, fourth and fifth respectively. Evans completed his day of racing in 37th.
USA held the advantage heading into the final moto, however with Anderson no longer lining up, his DNS would mark USA’s lowest score to drop, meaning it was up to Cooper Webb to secure the Chamberlains Trophy. Herlings and Cairoli set the pace early on, gapping the field immediately to finish first and second, while Belgian’s Strijbos repeated his moto one result in third.
The real fight for the MXoN crown unfolded behind the leaders, with Webb stuck between Great Britain’s Tommy Searle, who wasn’t in contention, and France’s Febvre. The American was able to maintain his composure despite heavy pressure from the Frenchman, however with just two laps to go, Webb made a costly mistake on Maggiora’s iconic wall, seeing him dismount the bike and lose a handful of positions. The mistake effectively handed France the win, and cost the USA an overall victory. Despite their best efforts, America completed the podium in third, three points behind The Netherlands. Waters and Ferris finished 14th and 15th, crediting Australia eighth in the nations standings.
While the MXoN marks the final motocross event in Europe for 2016, the inaugural Monster Energy Supermotocross Riders Cup is scheduled to take place in Germany next month, which will see a selection of international riders converge into Veltins Arena to compete on a hybrid-style motocross circuit.