KTM factory riders were on form at the 2016 Motocross of Nations in Maggiora, Italy last weekend with Tony Cairoli winning the MXGP class and Jeffrey Herlings making an impressive debut ride on the KTM 450 SX-F to win the Open class.

After three thrilling races where nothing was decided until the final corner of the last race, it was France that took home the coveted Chamberlain Trophy – and for the third consecutive time. The Netherlands, racing with an all-KTM team of Jeffrey Herlings, factory team-mate Glenn Coldenhoff and Brian Bogers was second just one point off the winners’ total. Team USA took a close third, despite a dramatic incident at the end of the second race that saw winner Jason Anderson hit by a backmarker after the finish line. Last year’s winning team, Belgium, was fourth and host country Italy, with Cairoli, the favourite of the inimitable Italian fans, finished fifth.

The 70th annual event that pits national teams against each other in a race format unique to this competition delivered thrills, spills, drama and a real carnival atmosphere among the thousands of spectators at this spectacular roller-coaster-style track at Maggiora Park.


Race 1 – MXGP + MX2

The first race saw a win by France with Roman Febvre, with Cairoli settling for second after leading the race for the first half. The result, which adds the numerical positions of each of the two national riders, saw Team Belgium take the early lead, followed by USA and France.

Race 2 – Open + MX2

Race 2 was a chance for Herlings show what he could do on the KTM 450 SX-F and he fought the good fight with US rider and race winner Jason Anderson. Herlings was second after a small crash, but despite a solid sixth in race one by team-mate Coldenhoff, Team Netherlands was still only in fourth place after the second moto. The second race was overshadowed by Anderson’s misfortune at the finish line, an incident that certainly played a role in the final 2016 result. The American was taken to hospital for checks and the team was left with one rider short for the decisive final race. Each team member races twice and national teams can drop the worst of their six results for the final calculations, so with Anderson unable to ride in the last race, Team USA has everything left to do.

Race 3 – Open + MXGP

The last went to Herlings by an impressive 7.6 seconds, with Cairoli placing second. But there were two more incidents in the final stages that proved to be decisive. Team France’s Roman Febvre made a vital charge forward to finish fourth, and while Team USA’s Cooper Webb put in a courageous last race in Andersen’s absence, he tipped over in the latter stages and went on to finish 10th. Coldenhoff’s seventh place in the final race also helped to push Team Netherlands up to second and to trail France by a single point.

“To go 1-2-1 in the qualifying and the two races is very good and I think I showed here I was one of the fastest all weekend,” said Herlings. “I showed a lot of speed so I’m very pleased about that, and it’s good feedback for next season. We need that because it will be our rookie season.

“We’ve only spent four days on the bike so far, so to go 1-2-1 here I think is already pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to next season, to testing in the winter and developing the bike to suit me. KTM has a great 450 bike and I think we’re looking very good.”

Cairoli, who was partnered with two Italian riders who were not so experienced as the eight-time world champion said it was tough to start the Nations in Italy knowing the team would not win and probably not make the podium. “It’s hard to find the motivation, but I did that to try to win my class. I wasn’t feeling that great after my crash yesterday and I was a bit sore when I woke up this morning, although luckily there were no injuries. But my riding was perfect even though I am still not 100 per cent fit and lack some confidence. We know what to work on for next season.”

Coldenhoff commented: “There were many strong teams here and many that could make the podium but yesterday [Saturday] I didn’t feel so good and made a lot of mistakes. But we qualified third so that was a confidence boost. I took the holeshot in my first race but as the race went on I got some arm pump. I had a good start again in my second race and I felt better but I still made some mistakes. In the end, we got second and I’m happy for that.”

Coldenhoff said he would soon start testing for the next season and he did have plans to race in the Red Bull Knockout in Holland, which he said was a big and important event.

This year’s MXoN also saw two of KTM’s young factory riders have their first experience at the nations format. Jorge Prado raced MX2 for Team Spain, who finished 12th among the 20 teams that qualified for the final day, and Josiah Natzke raced for Team New Zealand, which finished 17th.

Prado, just 15, who also picked up an award for the most promising young rider, said it had been difficult to race against the bigger bikes but he had enjoyed it and hoped to be racing for Spain again next year. “Yesterday was really good and I was fourth in the qualification,” he said. “I started first and rode pretty good. But I was only competing against the 250s so it was easier than today riding against the big bikes. Actually, I had two good starts but then I struggled in the corners, and I think mentally also. It wasn’t my best riding but I enjoyed it and I look forward to next year.”