The Motocross des Nations is the biggest, brightest and damn-near most important off-road motorcycle race there is. The 65th edition of this historic event is only a few days from go with the shallow valley setting of St Jean d’Angely near La Rochelle on the west coast of France braced for a huge collective of fans from all over the world.
Apart from the gathering of each country’s three best riders doing battle over three motos on one day, what really makes the season-closing spectacle so special is the hoards of motocross lovers from numerous continents that group together in a party atmosphere – there is nothing like it in any other motorsport.
At Ernee in France six years ago a capacity attendance watched Team USA begin what would be a run of dominance and the Americans have conquered the show in the UK, Italy and USA since. St Jean will be buzzing as 35 countries get ready to notch six moto finishes by their riders and count the best five to try and land the prestigious Chamberlain Trophy.
The Monster Army will be right in the mix with the USA’s Ryan Villopoto and Blake Baggett wearing the stars and stripes, Tommy Searle and AMA 250 champion Dean Wilson waving the Union Jack, Tyla Rattray turning out for South Africa, Carlos Campano for Spain and Alex Lupino for Italy. The hosts may have been dealt a late blow with the withdrawal of Steven Frossard but after the showing from Gautier Paulin in Fermo the French MX1 ride is in safe hands. Add to that the noisy and large support expected to crowd the St Jean banks and Team France will still be among the favourites.
“It’s a huge race and representing your country is something you are proud to do,” says Searle who won the MX2 GP at St Jean earlier in the year and claimed the European round just last week. “I really think we can make the podium. If we have a bit of luck then I think it’s possible. It should be a cool weekend anyway and it always gets you going to race in front of a massive crowd like that. I can’t wait for it.”
Beyond the spectacle provided by the riders and fans, Monster Energy are bringing two FMX shows over the weekend (Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening) plus the Pit Bike Championships where members of the paddock and media will duke it out on behalf of their country on Friday evening. Anyone who’s fond of the Monster Girls will be pretty happy to hear that we’re launching our very own Monster Girl Search for 2012 around a hot tub on Friday afternoon as well.