Team France, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin, Roman Febvre and Gautier Paulin, on Sunday retained the famed Chamberlain Trophy by winning the 69th edition of the Motocross of Nations in Ernée France. France took the win in front of an amazing crowd of 80,000.
Urged on by their thousands of supporters, France went into the third and final race of the day trailing Team USA by two points. But the French riders proved fast enough to reverse the score and USA had to settle for second. Team Belgium with Red Bull KTM factory rider Ken de Dycker finished third.
KTM’s Musquin was also winner of the MX2 category. It was his last weekend riding on the smaller bike – he advances to the 450 competition in the USA next season.
Race One (MXGP and MX2)
Race one saw MXGP and MX2 riders fight it out and also deliver a taste of the thrilling riding yet to come. American Justin Barcia took the win in front of Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS) and Max Nagl (GER) but only after a hard charging Musquin on the KTM 250 SX-F crashed out and had to settle for fourth.
Race Two (MX2 and Open)
Musquin was back on the track for race two for MX2 vs. Open and finished third behind the two 450 bikes of French team-mate Romain Febvre and American Cooper Webb. The race saw Musquin deliver an epic fight with US rival Jeremy Martin, who went on to be the second fastest 250 bike to finish fifth behind Belgian Open class rider Jeremy van Horebeek.
“The goal for the weekend was obviously to win the 250 class, and to get in front of Jeremy Martin because he was my main competitor in the USA,” said Marvin Musquin. “Qualifying went good. I got the holeshot and it was a good battle. Jeremy was behind me and it was good to get the win together with my teammates. It was a perfect day. I was really excited but I tried to remember it was only qualifying. It was actually a lot of pressure because I really wanted to do good.
“I didn’t get a good start in either of my motos and I wasn’t too happy about that. But with my 250 on this kind of track I knew I was capable of doing something good. It was really technical, and bumpy and rutted, and so slow in some areas, but with the 250 I was able to fight with the 450s. To be able to come back and pass Barcia was just unbelievable, but I got too excited and started to make some mistakes. Unfortunately I went down but still finished fourth, which was pretty good. I really wanted to do well this weekend. To be picked for the French team after being missed for two years, I didn’t want to disappoint anybody, also for my last race on the 250.”
Race Three (MXGP and Open)
By the start of race three, the contest between MXGP and Open, the natural amphitheatre of the Ernée circuit was an ocean of French flags as it was clear that there was everything to play for between the two dominant teams. Febvre got away well to give France the edge, and French team-mate Paulin was back in fifth. Meanwhile the two Americans, Barcia and Webb, had some work to do to fight their way through the pack. Febvre got the job done for France but the battle for the points was decided further back in the field. While Barcia found his way into third, the New Zealand veteran racer Ben Townley rose to the occasion and managed to play the spoiler role to finish second and deprive Barcia of a valuable point. Paulin hung onto fifth place and USA’s Webb finished sixth.
Ken de Dycker had in fact returned to Team Belgium after missing most of the 2015 season through a series of injuries. He said he was happy to wind up the year on a positive note.
Ken de Dycker said: “Yesterday started really good with the pole position but I did have some trouble with arm pump. Then today in the first moto I had quite a big crash and in the end I broke the front brake, so it was quite difficult. It went quite well at the start of the second mot but then I got arm pump again and it’s a bit difficult to ride like that.”
It was also a tough weekend for Team Great Britain with a line up that had made them one of the favourites going into the event. KTM-supported rider Shaun Simpson and team-mate Max Anstie had big crashes in qualifying on Saturday. Simpson was able to race on Sunday together with team-mate Dean Wilson, who races for the US Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team, but Anstie was not. Simpson fought for an 8-11 race result and Wilson for 6-8, but with one rider down Team GB only managed to finish in 18th place. Wilson finished fourth in the Open individual ranking and Simpson finished fifth in the MXGP class.
“We had quite a good day,” said Shaun Simpson. “Had Max [Anstie] been here, I think we could have quite easily been on the podium. I already checked the numbers and if Max had got a 10 or a 15th we would have been on the podium. I think it was disappointing for the British fans, but also for Dean and for me. It was a difficult one for me because I was feeling pretty second hand after Glen Helen, and from the crash yesterday. It was a tough track but I really enjoyed it. It was very well prepared and with a lot of lines.
“It wasn’t the year for Team Great Britain but we’ll eventually get on the podium. Having the race in France helped the French team a lot but we also had a lot of supporters. The British guys came across and did a great job supporting us.”
Dean Wilson said: “I was not very satisfied with my performance. I just kind of struggled all weekend on the track. I just felt a bit awkward out there. It was a big shame for us that Max got injured. The good thing is that he’s going to heal up and come back. It could have been a lot worse. We just have to take it the way it is and hopefully next year we’ll all be healthy, and be where we should be, on the podium.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass, MX2 Vice Champion 2015 was in Ernée for Team Latvia but decided on Sunday not to race, saying: “Yesterday I had three crashes and this morning one crash. What with the jet lag from just returning from the race in Glen Helen and still not feeling good from my big crash in the GP in Mexico, I decided with the team and the manager not to race.” He added: “We don’t need injuries or big crashes so it is better to concentrate on getting ready for next season.”
Riders from both sides of the Atlantic agreed that the event in Ernée had been spectacular, from both the track and the huge number of fans that turned out to support their teams.