Features 6 Oct 2023

Q&A: What to expect at the Motocross of Nations

Breaking down a range of topics ahead of the 2023 running.

This weekend the motocross world comes to a united standstill as the 76th edition of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations (MXoN) takes centerstage in Ernee, France. After some fascinating championship chases, both in the US and in MXGP, this year’s Nations is once again one of the most anticipated events of the year globally. In this Q&A, MotoOnline breaks down an assortment of questions surrounding the 2023 event and provides a share of details about what you can expect this weekend.

Image: Octopi Media.

Q: How much of a home advantage will France have?

A: Over recent years, the home team has certainly had the upper-hand over other countries. In 2019, the Netherlands dominated at Assen to take their first-ever crown. In 2021, Italy edged clear of Belgium to win at Mantova, while last year, Team USA snapped their 11-year losing streak by holding the Chamberlain Trophy aloft at RedBud. On top of that, France won the MXoN the last time the event was held at Ernee in 2015, and has an exceptionally strong team with a trio of former world champions Romain Febvre, Maxime Renaux and Tom Vialle, filling their ranks.

Q: Which other countries are expected to perform?

A: Team Australia is facing its best opportunity to win the MXoN for the first time ever, with Hunter and Jett Lawrence capturing AMA Pro Motocross and Supercross championships already this year. Australia’s third rider is four-time Australian MX1 champion Dean Ferris, who is no stranger to the European scene after years on the MXGP circuit, and is currently in some of the best form of his life. Team Spain includes 2023 MXGP world champion Jorge Prado, Ruben Fernandez and Oriol Oliver, while the Netherlands team includes plenty of experience in Calvin Vlaanderen, Kay de Wolf and Glenn Coldenhoff. The inclusion of Ken Roczen into Germany’s squad could also bolster their chances of a podium.

Q: How is Team USA expected to fare?

A: Team USA has a challenge ahead of them if they want to successfully defend their 2022 title this year. Not only has the USA not won on European soil since 2011, but their roster of Aaron Plessinger, RJ Hampshire and Christian Craig – coming off an injury – have limited experience racing against the MXGP regulars. Of the three selected riders, only Plessinger has contested the MXoN before, in 2018 when the race was held at RedBud. Still, you know that the American riders are of a high caliber, regardless, and that they will be motivated to rise to the occasion when representing their country on the biggest stage in motocross. Podium chance, at least? We think so!

Q: How many times has Ernee hosted the Motocross of Nations?

A: This will be the third time the Nations has visited the Ernee circuit, after hugely successful events in 2005 and 2015, and both times saw heaving crowds of vocal, passionate French fans. Team USA beat France and Belgium in 2005, while France etched their name on the trophy for the second year in a row in 2015, when they bested USA and Belgium. Ernee was also scheduled to host the event in 2020, but that year was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Image: Octopi Media.

Q: What can the riders expect to face on-track?

A: Ernee is a unique, hillside track in the way that it’s bordered by white picket fences. As for the track itself, expect a relatively narrow, flowing circuit with plenty of altitude changes and a surface that’s fairly hard-pack with some softer sections. The soil is prone to developing brutal square-edged bumps and tricky ruts, particularly in the two tight off-camber hairpins towards the end of the circuit.

Q: Which prominent racers won’t be on the starting gate?

A: Although still stacked with talent across the board, the 2023 edition of the Nations does have some notable omissions from its starting order. Dutch icon Jeffrey Herlings is still recovering from a broken collarbone, US-based Dylan Ferrandis missed the cut to represent France at a home event, Japan electing to not field a team means Jo Shimoda won’t be present, and Australian Mitch Evans – who helped Team Australia to third last year – is recovering from a wrist injury. As for Team USA, Chase Sexton (who is in between manufacturer contracts), Eli Tomac (injury), Justin Cooper (wedding), Jason Anderson, Adam Cianciarulo, Justin Barcia, Cooper Webb and Haiden Deegan were all unavailable for selection in the end.

Q: How can I watch the event?

A: Depending on where you live will depend on the viewing options you have. You can tune in via MXGP-TV.com, buy a weekend pass to watch the racing live from anywhere in the world, but for a lot of countries there are alternate options. Australian residents can tune in live via Stan Sports, with the races scheduled to begin at 9pm on Sunday (EDT), and finishing at 1am on Monday. A comprehensive list of viewing options for different countries is available here.