After twenty-four hours of door to door travel from our hotel in Italy to our home in California, we finally have internet access to share more news on the stories that unfolded at the 2016 Motocross of Nations. It was a huge weekend at Maggiora and we must say that this year’s race will undoubtedly become just as iconic as the 1986 event at the same facility. We’ll have plenty to share over the next few days, so be sure to circle back for more.
– Congratulations to Team France for their third consecutive victory. This year’s line-up included two members of the 2015 team with Romain Febvre and Gautier Paulin, but the inclusion of young racer Benoit Paturel over Marvin Musquin had some wondering if they’d defend the Chamberlain Trophy. The average finish of the three riders was 7.1, and with Paturel’s worst finish (14th in Moto Two) dropped from the final tally, they edged The Netherlands by just one point.
– The final laps of Moto Three were full of uncertainty, as the overall victory changed hands three times in just a few laps. Cooper Webb’s crash on the steep hill turn took Team USA out of the lead and put The Netherlands at the top of the board for a few moments, until Romain Febvre made a key pass on Great Britain’s Tommy Searle and claimed fourth. The on-track announcers couldn’t keep up with the action and the hills roared with cheers after every update of the running order.
– Jason Anderson’s crash was one of the most unbelievable things we’ve seen at a professional race. The American put in an incredible performance during Moto Two as he nabbed the holeshot, held off Jeffrey Herlings until the Dutch rider tipped over exiting a turn, and won the race by a sizeable margin. This win put the United States in the overall lead heading into the final moto, but as you undoubtedly know by now, the celebration was cut short when Anderson was landed on by another rider on the finish line. The moments after the incident were a bit frantic as Anderson laid motionless on the side of the track. He eventually came to and talked with the team and medics, but the usual European standards of a backboard, neck collar, and privacy curtain were quickly in place around his body. After some treatment at the on-site medical center, Anderson was taken to a local hospital for a mandatory MRI and overnight observations for the concussion he sustained in the crash.
– Anderson’s weekend got off to a rough start on Saturday, when a collision with another rider at the start of the Open class qualifying moto resulted in a broken right foot. A handful of doctors that traveled with Team USA helped him manage the injury for Sunday with medicine and heavy amounts of medical tape, and their efforts were focused on just getting him through the weekend. Before the incident on Sunday, Anderson told us that the broken foot was going to keep him from making the SMX in Germany or the Monster Energy Cup as planned. His next race will likely be Anaheim One in January.
– Cooper Webb’s post-race mood was somber. A small mistake in the final moto by the two-time MXON rider kept America from claiming the win and Webb seemed to let the entire burden rest solely on his shoulders. A pair of sunglasses hid his heavy eyes on the podium, but there was no missing his thousand yard stare in the post-race press conference. He summed up his thoughts on the week in the final line of his short comment with, “We did our best, but I'm disappointed. I'm going to not live this one down for a long time.”
– Although it will be no consolation to Webb, he cannot feel like the only reason that the United States lost. In fact, his performance in the final race will probably be a talking point for most of his career, because he raced alone and kept any hope of victory alive. You can be sure this will motivate him until the gate drops next year.
– Jeffrey Herlings is no slouch on the 450. After some hesitation about racing the MXON, Herlings hopped aboard the big bike for a few days of testing and helped The Netherlands claim their best finish in years with a qualifying moto win on Saturday, a win in Moto Two on Sunday, and some of the fastest laps of the weekend. With young riders Herlings, Glenn Coldenhoff, and Brian Bogers in their stable, the Dutch team could become a super power in a short time.
– Who would have predicted Jeremy Van Horebeek would win the MX2 overall? Not to discredit the talented rider, but at well over six foot tall, he’s not what one would consider the ideal 250 rider. His decision to stay on the small-bore bike, even after Clement Desalle’s injury brought MX2 rider Brent van Doninck to the team, paid off and Van Horebeek’s 5-7 scores were a help to Belgium’s fourth place finish.
– A pair of third-place finishes made Kevin Strijbos one of the biggest surprises of the day. The Belgian battled with everyone on the track and probably put in two of the best motos of his career. Not to blame Van Doninck or his short-notice assignment to the 450 class, but if Desalle had raced, we might have seen another team on the top of the podium.
– Just a few years ago Maggiora was a wasteland, but massive renovations have turned the iconic hills back into a world class facility for two-wheeled sports. The track’s layout was largely similar to what was seen thirty years ago, down to the tricky hardpack that was hidden beneath a small layer of tilled loam, and it challenged every rider at some point in the weekend.
– A run-in with another rider on Saturday left Valentin Guillod with a busted finger and took Switzerland from possible podium contender to also-ran. We chatted with the Swiss MXGP rider on Saturday night in the Alpinestars hospitality unit and asked if he planned to skip Sunday’s race. His response was exactly what you’d hope to hear from an injured rider at the MXON: “I must race for my country.” He posted 13-16 scores for the weekend.
– Guillod’s teammate Arnuad Tonus had a good weekend in Italy, as the ex-Pro Circuit rider showed the speed that got him his first ride in the United States and claimed 4-8 moto finishes. It’ll be interesting to see where Tonus lands in the next few months, because he reportedly has offers from teams in Europe and the United States.
– Here’s hoping Max Nagl a speedy recovery from a crash on Saturday. The German rider was reportedly knocked out early in his qualifying moto and sat out the rest of the weekend.
– Alright, time to work on some more stuff. Check back in a bit…