Eleven years after Matterley Basin was unveiled as one of the best motocross tracks in Europe through hosting the 2006 FIM Motocross of Nations, the world’s largest off-road motorcycle one-day event will return to the Winchester site next year and Matterley organiser and custodian Steve Dixon insists the timing couldn’t have been better.
Matterley was originally slated to welcome the MXoN again in 2018 or 2019 but with promoters Youthstream unable to find an agreement with Glen Helen in California at the end of next summer, the 71st edition of the fixture will take place again in southern England and in the UK for the first time since 2008.
“I’m excited and we wanted it,” says Dixon, Principal of the Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki team and overseer of the British Grand Prix at the same venue since 2011. “We were being talked about for 2018 or 19 and I didn’t want to wait that long. We already spoke with the local police about it this summer and they were also like ‘how soon can you bring it?’ We want to get our teeth into it now.”
Undoubtedly positive news for British fans but it also means that MXGP will be without a British stop in 2017 with replacements like Russia (the Orlyonok circuit hosting the Junior World Championship this August) and Portugal (Agueda back on the schedule) set to fill in.
“That was always going to be the case [that the British Grand Prix would go on temporary hiatus] but we will be make some changes for the bigger scale of the Nations that will have a positive effect for the Grand Prix again in 2018,” Dixon claims. “The Nations is more high profile so we will have some improvements like upgrading the internet, changing the paddock and also the track a little bit.”
For Dixon and his small crew, the Nations marks a significant rise in responsibilities and duties compared to the Grand Prix. Official crowd figures reached 85,000 at Maggiora Park in Italy last week and the vast circuit will have to deal with an attendance three-four times bigger than that traditionally seen at the GP. “From experience – to give you an example – you’ll have something like 40 tonnes of rubbish at the Grand Prix and at the Nations that climbs to 120. There is also much more water and waste consumption. On the other hand, the paddock is also smaller and the track is being used less. Winchester [council] understands the volume of traffic and there is room for movement when it comes to timing of lights, roads being closed, diverted and used. The lady from the local police was even in touch with the force in Italy over traffic last weekend. There is a lot more proactivity for big events whether it is football or festivals; we won’t be ‘winging it’.
The date for the third British MXoN in just over a decade will be October 1 and concerns over the erratic weather and climate is a viable concern. Dixon says it is all part of the event planning. “We have experience from previous years and I look at it [a race at Matterley] like a wet event from the beginning,” he reveals. “We just have to deal with it and it means thinking about entrances and road-sweepers but the extra resources with the Nations also means we can look at things like temporary walkways and other provisions. We are getting more and more infrastructure to cope with the rain and the wet. The track can take it and we’ll also have less riding compared to a Grand Prix.”
Tickets are expected to go on sale before Christmas and even as early as next month.