The 68th edition of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations is a wrap here at the super sweet sand-ish circuit of Kegums, Latvia. Proving to be the fastest nation of 2014, Team France can proudly hold the Chamberlain Trophy high for the second time ever, with the first occasion being 13 years ago, which was coincidently Gautier Paulin’s racing number this weekend, back in 2001.
Team France’s Dylan Ferrandis was also awarded with the Ricky Carmichael Best Young Rider award which he received right after himself, his two team-mates, Gautier Paulin and Steven Frossard and their Team Manager, Olivier Robert, were gifted a TAG HEUR watch each as a reward for their outstanding Motocross of Nations victory.
The defending champions, Team Belgium’s trio of Jeremy Van Horebeek, Kevin Strijbos and Julien Lieber locked up second overall, with this year being Belgium’s 23 podium finish in the last 25 editions of the Motocross of Nations.
After a rough day, Team USA still managed to land on the third step of the podium with a mixed bag of performances from their team of Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac and Jeremy Martin.
RACE 1 – MXGP & MX2
He has been on fire all weekend; he set the fastest time in free practice and led a good part of the qualifying heat despite it being only his first race meet on the bigger 350cc bike. To top off his good start to the weekend, Team Russia’s young gun Aleksandr Tonkov became €1000 richer after getting off to yet another flying start to claim the first of the three FOX Holeshot awards.
Only a tyre nobble off of the grand, Team Germany’s Max Nagl leant on Team USA’s Ryan Dungey while Team France’s Gautier Paulin also made his presence noticed right off the bat going fourth around turn one and wasting no time in barging his way forward to second.
With Dungey and Nagl dropping back to third and fourth respectively, Paulin went to work on a stubborn Tonkov. The Russian was impressive in holding his own against the well-established MXGP riders making Paulin work hard for the lead. With the form Paulin was showing today, it was almost inevitable he would take the lead, and he did.
While Paulin said Au revoir and went on to take a convincing victory, the battle for second was intense. The rookie Tonkov was relentless as he dealt with the pressure from seasoned MXGP bike riders Dungey, Nagl and Team Belgium’s MXGP vice world champion Jeremy Van Horebeek like a veteran.
Meanwhile, Team Italy’s Antonio Cairoli’s early race performance was enough to make your hair stand on end. Riding with the type of aggression we haven’t seen from him in a long time, it was phenomenal to watch on as he blitzed by Van Horebeek for fifth, throwing himself right into the four-way battle for second.
While Cairoli looked like the biggest threat of the race, around half time he took everyone by surprise when he had biggie through the waves. As Cairoli limped to the edge of the circuit cradling his knee, Dungey started to get very impatient with the headstrong Tonkov.
Another handful of laps on and Dungey finally found his opening and cracked Tonkov when he passed him up the inside to take over second. A lap later, and Nagl was also around Tonkov with a similar move.
Some 30 minutes and two laps on, Paulin set the tone and took the first race victory of the weekend while Dungey held off a late race charge from Nagl for second. Nagl came home in third while Jeremy Van Horebeek managed to find a gap on Tonkov in the closing stages of the race for fourth. A massive applause must be given to Tonkov and also to the rider who finished sixth, Team Sweden’s Filip Bengtsson.
Team Netherlands’ Glenn Coldenhoff came home as the first MX2 rider, just ahead of Team Great Britain’s Tommy Searle and Team France’s Dylan Ferrandis who finished seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.
As for Tony Cairoli, it is said he has done some damage to a ligament in his knee. Despite being in quite some pain, Tony being Tony, the definition of a true champion, still lined up for race two.
Race 1 top ten: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 35:13.245; 2. Ryan Dungey (USA, KTM), +0:03.732; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:04.814; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:13.464; 5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:15.220; 6. Filip Bengtsson (SWE, KTM), +0:32.340; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:36.143; 8. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:40.866; 9. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:46.237; 10. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:47.836
Nations top ten: France, USA, Belgium, Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden.
RACE 2 – MX2 & Open
While a commanding holeshot on a start like we had here in Kegums is near impossible, Team France’s Steven Frossard’s launch out of the gate and drag to the FOX Holeshot line was about as commanding as it can get. Chasing the Frenchman around turn one, Team Great Britain’s Tommy Searle probably got the best jump, out of the 40 riders on the line, and pinned it up the inside to hold a tight line around the corner and cross the FOX Holeshot line in second, neck and neck with the Open class bikes of Team Sweden’s Fredrik Noren and Team Belgium’s Kevin Strijbos.
While yesterday’s qualifying heat winner Kevin Strijbos started in fourth, he seems to get on well with the sandy surface here in Latvia and he wasted no time in taking over the lead. Meanwhile Frossard looked like he was in his groove riding an unchallenged second from start to finish.
It was also a good time for Team Great Britain’s duo of Dean Wilson and Tommy Searle as they protected and pushed each other the entire race to come home in third and fourth. While we should give a big hats off to Team Sweden’s Frederik Noren who, as a more or less unknown rider, put in a inspiring effort for fifth.
Team USA’s Eli Tomac got off to a shocking start, well outside of the top 10. He managed to claw his way forward, but hit a wall at sixth place and tightened up. He later said, “I did get a bit tight but I think it was something to do with my front end, so we made some changes and it was a whole lot better in the second race.”
Race 2 top ten: 1. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 35:28.584; 2. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:03.329; 3. Dean Wilson (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:21.875; 4. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:23.377; 5. Fredrik Noren (SWE, Honda), +0:25.580; 6. Eli Tomac (USA, Honda), +0:26.102; 7. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), +0:26.726; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:27.713; 9. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:43.243; 10. Marc de Reuver (NED, Honda), +0:45.552.
Nations top ten: France, Great Britain, Belgium, USA, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Estonia, Germany, Russia.
RACE 3 – MXGP & OPEN
As the final race of the weekend, levels of excitement and anxiety skyrocketed as ‘MXGP vs Open’ levels the playing field with all of the riders racing on MXGP class bikes. It also typically puts all the strongest members of each team all in one race and is more often than not the determining factor in which nation will claim the coveted Chamberlain Cup.
Starting from around gate eight, Team Germany’s Dennis Ullrich got a fantastic jump and shifted his weight right back for the utmost amount of traction to pull across on Team Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek and claim the last cheque for €1000 as the FOX Holeshot receiver.
Ullrich managed to lead lap one, before being passed two turns from the finish at the end of lap two when Van Horebeek literally landed on him. Although Ullrich got a little squirley, he managed to save it but lost his rhythm and a couple of places with Team France’s Gautier Paulin and Team Russia’s Aleksandr Tonkov taking advantage. Another lap later and Team France’s Steven Frossard took yet another position off of the German when he railed around the outside of him for fourth.
Meanwhile, in the same spot Van Horebeek landed on Ullrich, Paulin jumped long and ran it hot up the inside to take over the lead. Once again, Paulin was ‘on it’ this weekend and no one had an answer for him.
Further back, Team USA’s Eli Tomac was absolutely hauling! After going down on turn one the American nailed the ‘ride it like you stole it’ approach, gunning it as if there would be no tomorrow. Despite having to charge his way through traffic, he managed to set the fastest lap time, almost two whole seconds faster than that of Paulin and before he knew it he had the lead in his sights. Only to add more drama to the Team USA MXoN 2014 saga, he ended up having to relinquish the thought of a possible race win when he stalled the bike with only a few laps to go.
With the final waving of the checkered flag, Paulin aced it today going 1 – 1 for a perfect score. While Van Horebeek came home for second and Tomac for third, the cherry was put on top of the cake for Team France when Frossard crossed the line in fourth to seal the deal on their second ever Motocross of Nations victory. Team Great Britain’s Dean Wilson put in a solid ride for fifth but would have been gutted to find out his fellow Team GB rider Shaun Simpson did not finish due to a broken chain meaning they would tie with Team USA on MXoN overall points but were nudged off the podium with USA to have taken the best result in the overall scores with Dungey’s second place in race one.
Race 3 top ten: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 34:03.950; 2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:02.146; 3. Eli Tomac (USA, Honda), +0:04.436; 4. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:21.369; 5. Dean Wilson (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:24.872; 6. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:26.519; 7. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), +0:27.657; 8. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:29.083; 9. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:31.589; 10. Rui Goncalves (POR, Yamaha), +0:47.533.
Nations top ten: France, Belgium, USA, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Estonia, The Netherlands.
Team France’s Gautier Paulin absolutely dominated the MXGP class with a perfect 1 – 1 score while Team Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek finished second and an incredible day for Team Russia’s Aleksandr Tonkov to wrap up the weekend in third.
In the MX2, Team Great Britain’s Tommy Searle was the overall winner; three points clear of Team Netherlands Glenn Coldenhoff and Team France’s Dylan Ferrandis in second and third.
While in the Open class, Team France’s Steven Frossard won ahead of Team Great Britain’s Dean Wilson and Team USA’s Eli Tomac.
So that’s it. Another epic Motocross of Nations is in the bag. It is already hard not to have goose bumps thinking about how awesome MXoN 2015 will be, taking place in Ernée, France, with Team France going in as the defending champions. Roll on 2015!