GB Host Muddiest Motocross MXoN Festival

Most of the Motocross championships across the globe had now come to an end but at Matterley Basin on the 30th September and 1st October 2017, thirty-eight countries lined up to compete for the Chamberlain Trophy and the French were looking for their fourth consecutive Motocross Des Nations crown after recent victories in 2014 (Kegums Latvia), 2015 (Ernee France) and completing a treble in 2016 at Maggiora Italy. The build up to MXoN hadn’t been plain sailing for the French, as both Dylan Ferrandis and Benoit Paturel were ruled out through injury. MXGP former champion Romain Febvre lines up from the original squad, alongside Gautier Paulin on the Husqvarna, whilst unknown to most would be Christophe Charlier, who regularly competes in the FIM EnduroGP World Championship and would be lining up on MX2 machinery, creating an unknown as to whether the French can defend their crown. Lining up as one of the favourites to challenge the French for overall honours was the USA, as the most successful nation with 22 wins including a run of seven which included victory back at Matterley Basin in 2006. Leading the line-up and known in the UK for winning the British MX2 title a few years back, Zach Osborne would ride in the MX2 class and had previous experience of Matterley Basin. The second rider who knows of the circuit and the UK crowd was Thomas Covington, who had made appearances in the Maxxis British Motocross Championship (MXGB). Covington would be on board the 450 in the open class for the first time, after more experienced on a MX2, but could be an unknown quantity against experienced riders. The MXGP rider for the USA was Cole Seely, a regular on the AMA scene for Honda HRC. If all ties up nicely for the Americans, they could reclaim the title after many years without lifting the overall crown. The country looking to go one better than 2016 MXON was the Dutch, as the Netherlands came to Matterley Basin with an experienced team, the same as 2016. After claiming many MX2 titles, Jeffrey Herlings made the move to MXGP and impressed on the Red Bull KTM. Herlings would be entering the Open class on a 450Fand one of the favourites to win the category and take wins in either Moto. The MXGP class would be contested by Glenn Coldenhoff who struggled in the early part of MXGP season but has improved in the second half of the season. MX2 could have been their weak link, as a turbulent season for Brian Bogers meant he came into Matterley Basin missing out on MX2 podiums and decent results. Just across the border from the Dutch and ones who could have challenged for the MXON title was Belgium, however their build up was dented by injuries. Clement Desalle was due to lead the team, his first MXoN since 2013 however injuries have ruled him out again and therefore Kevin Strijbos, a great replacement as an MXGP champion was drafted in. Another experienced rider would line up in the Open class, as Jeremy Van Horebeek would ride the other 450F, however it was in MX2 were more injuries resulted in changes. Julien Lieber was originally chosen to ride MX2 but a knee injury at the MXGP of Pays de Montbeliard forced him to withdraw and be replaced by Brent Van Doninck, who competed back in 2016. The last team for us to mention as standouts to challenge for overall honours is of course team GB, who on home soil would receive a massive response from the thousands in attendance and look set to win the title again.  Max Anstie would be team leader in the MXGP class and since moving up from MX2 with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory squad, he would be in contention for victories after a fantastic MXGP season. MX2 would be led by Tommy Searle, as the 2016 MX1 British Champion had recovered from injury to be fit for another run at Matterley Basin and MX2 history was on his side. In the Open class would be Dean Wilson, who regularly competes across the pond in the American Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series. Racing on the KTM, Wilson would be making his first appearance at Matterley Basin but he had history of MXoN, finishing in the top ten in seven of eight Motos he had ridden. As a consistent rider, he could have a hand to play in where the title ends up.

France and The Netherlands level heading into Sunday

The opening race of the weekend was the qualifying heat for the MXGP class and probably to no one’s surprise after results of free practice; Tim Gajser was the fast starter and grab the holeshot to lead into turn one and begin to pull clear of the chasing pack. As Max Anstie grabbed second early on, Gautier Paulin was on a charge and before too long, the two Rockstar Energy Husqvarnas were dicing for second. The battle for second allowed Gajser to pull away out front and the Slovenian was in full control of proceedings as Paulin took Anstie for second. The front three did look unbreakable in the early goings before nine times MXGP champion Antonio Cairoli decided to join the party and go into battle with the Husqvarnas. The chase from Cairoli did at times allow Paulin to pull away in second but with the British crowd behind him, Anstie reeled in the Frenchman and challenged for second. As the field reached the final lap, Max was on fire and went for a move on Paulin over the table top, to find a backmarker cut across his path and both hit the deck. The incident allowed Paulin to break away to finish second behind Tim Gajser, whilst Cairoli secured third. Anstie was able to remount and finish battered and bruised in fourth, comfortably ahead of Belgian Jeremy Van Horebeek who completed the top five. Outside the top five in terms of the favourites, Cole Seeley impressed in his opening competitive ride for team USA to secure ninth, ahead of Dutchman Glenn Coldenhoff who unfortunately for Team Netherlands had a difficult opening ride in tenth. Strong showings from Russia (Evgeny Bobryshev), Australia (Dean Ferris) and Switzerland (Arnaud Tonus) in this qualifying race opened up chances for some less nations to challenge for a top five/podium if results in MX2 and MXOPEN can go in their favour.

MXoN MXGP Qualifying Heat – Top Five

  1. Slovenia (Tim Gajser No.67 – Honda) = 27:02.312s
  2. France (Gautier Paulin No.1 – Husqvarna) = +5.416s
  3. Italy (Antonio Cairoli No.13 – KTM) = +6.841s
  4. Great Britain (Max Anstie No.19 – Husqvarna) = +21.486s
  5. Belgium (Jeremy Van Horebeek No.10 – Yamaha) = +31.752s

In the opening MX2 race of the weekend for the 250F machines, Zach Osborne had to be favourite after his pace in free practice, however from the far side of the grid the American was held up into first corner, as Australian Hunter Lawrence grabbed the holeshot and looked set to disappear on the Suzuki. Osborne would end the opening lap down in sixth and looked already out of contention for the win since Lawrence broke clear of the chasing pack, but on familiar territory, Osborne was charging fast.  Behind Lawrence in second and watching the Suzuki rider disappear was Brian Bogers, having a strong ride on the KTM for the Netherlands and on course to collect decent points to kick-start their MXoN campaign, knowing Herlings was out in the Open category. Bogers came under pressure in the latter stages from Spain’s Jorge Prado Garcia, who was on for Spain’s best result so far, ahead of Denmark’s Thomas Kjer Olsen. For Denmark, Kjer Olsen was riding really well on the Husqvarna and throughout the race had pulled clear of Britain’s Tommy Searle and Puerto Rico’s Darian Sanayei, with Sanayei passing his DRT Kawasaki team mate in the closing stages after recovering from a first lap crash, mainly due to Tommy struggling for pace on his return to the MX2 category. The riding who was impressing over ever jump and into every corner in the closing stages was Zach Osborne, who had climbed from sixth to second and closing so quickly on Hunter Lawrence. Lawrence had been controlling the race throughout but on the final lap, Osborne and Lawrence were wheel to wheel and the American passed with a few corners to go. Lawrence tried a switchback to regain the lead but Osborne held on and pulled off an impressive victory, the first at the 2017 MXoN for the Americans. The top three was completed by Brian Bogers for The Netherlands, on a second ahead of Spain’s Jorge Prado Garcia with Thomas Kjer Olsen rounding out the top five for Denmark.

MXoN MX OPEN Qualifying Heat – Top Five

  1. United States (Zach Osborne No.8 – Husqvarna) = 27:26.409s
  2. Australia (Hunter Lawrence No.23 – Suzuki) = +1.129s
  3. The Netherlands (Brian Bogers No.5 – KTM) = +24.169s
  4. Spain (Jorge Prado Garcia No.35 – KTM) = +25.359s
  5. Denmark (Thomas Kjer Olsen No.41 – Husqvarna) = +27.304s

The MX Open race was going to be a showdown between Romain Febvre and Jeffrey Herlings and when the gate dropped it was the Frenchmen who gained a slight advantage before Herlings struck a few corners later and came from fourth to first. Once ahead “The Bullet” was untouchable jumping smoother than the rest and breaking clear from his rivals. As Febvre held second comfortably, behind a battle was on for third including Jeremy Seewer for Switzerland and Kirk Gibbs for Australia.  Dean Wilson for Team GB was moving up the order in the early stages too but no one within the top five could match the performance of Jeffrey Herlings, who was superb on the Red Bull Factory KTM. The top five within the Open category spread out from one another by the half way mark and position were mostly cast in stone, with Wilson the biggest improver and every lap closing on the KTM of Gibbs. The pace of Kirk Gibbs was extremely impressive and helped boost the points tally for the Australian. In the early running, Gibbs was on for third place and chasing down Jeremy Seewer, but come the finish had slipped into the clutches of Dean Wilson. Just outside the top five and keeping Belgium in the hunt for the MXoN title was the experienced Kevin Strijbos on his final ride for Suzuki, ahead of Thomas Covington for the United States, putting the US well in position to take honours on Sunday. The strongest performance though came from MXGB MX1 Champion Graeme Irwin who propelled his Buildbase Honda to eighth and as a result, Ireland qualified overall for the MXoN final, rather than having to enter the B final, as per previous years.

MXoN MX OPEN Qualifying Heat – Top Five

  1. The Netherlands (Jeffrey Herlings No.6 – KTM) = 26:40.776s
  2. France (Romain Febvre No.3 – Yamaha) = +28.669s
  3. Switzerland (Jeremy Seewer No.18 – Suzuki) = +35.853s
  4. Australia (Kirk Gibbs No.24 – KTM) = +43.400s
  5. Great Britain (Dean Wilson No.21 – Husqvarna) = +45.274s

After all the qualifying heats were done, France and the Netherlands were topping the classification level on four points and Team GB was in the hunt, along with Australia and the United States. Countries that automatically missed out on qualification to the final 3 Motos would end up in the C and B final. The C final took place on Saturday evening as the last Moto of the day with Poland on combined scores doing enough to qualify for the B Final, overcoming Hungary, Greece, Lithuania and Thailand. The teams that would contest the B Final on Sunday morning were Brazil, Ukraine, Iceland and Argentina. The winning team on combined scores would gain entry to the deciding MXoN races.

MXoN 2017 Goes to the Wire!

Expected overnight rain hit the Matterley Basin venue hard on Saturday, resulting in waterlogged areas come Sunday morning and as a result turned the venue into a mud bath. The track held up well despite the weather and throughout the early morning warm up session would improve, even though a lot of the bikes were struggling with the amount of mud blocking the radiators. Ahead of the opening MXGP/MX2 mixed race; track work carried out by the staff created the perfect conditions for racing and three races would decide the 2017 MXoN Champions.

The opening race to decide the fate of the 2017 MXoN was the MXGP field mixed with the 250F MX2 and knowing there would be a speed difference, it was going to be interesting to see which MX2 rider could mix it with the 450F machines. When the gate dropped it was the Netherlands who gained the advantage, as Glenn Coldenhoff powered his KTM to the front, ahead of Britain’s Max Anstie.  The British crowd instantly got behind Max and the Husqvarna rider pushed to the front a few corners later to lead Coldenhoff and the chasing pack. Gautier Paulin and Antonio Cairoli slotted into third and fourth, however Paulin was able to break clear and challenge the front two when Cairoli toppled off and remounted outside the top ten, ruining Italy’s chances of a top five result early on. The mistake by Cairoli allowed MXGP qualifying heat winner Tim Gajser to move up the order, along with Arnaud Tonus and the flying Hunter Lawrence, who was leading the MX2 pack and flying on his 250 in competing with the faster 450 bikes. The chasing pack quickly dropped Glenn Coldenhoff from second into the clutches of Lawrence and the Australian went pass with ease, even with his Suzuki down on power compared to the KTM. Out front no one was getting near to Max Anstie, as the Brit was in full control of proceedings and getting quicker and quicker each lap, creating one hell of an atmosphere around Matterley Basin. Whilst things were going well for one Brit another was unfortunately struggling, as Tommy Searle on the MX2 250F Kawasaki withdrew early on with a blown engine and picking up a DNF and denting Team GB chances of taking the Chamberlain trophy on home turf. Behind race leader Max Anstie was where tension was building as Tim Gajser was hungry for results on the HRC Honda and was targeting Paulin for second whilst Lawrence was on for another 450F scalp challenging Tonus for fourth. Both Gajser and Lawrence moved up a position on the final lap as Max Anstie secured victory for Team GB winning the MXGP category, with Lawrence taking MX2 honours. Lawrence had scored huge points for Australia however their points tally took a dent as MXGP rider Dean Ferris had pulled in early for replacement goggles and struggled to make ground following the stop. One of the front team to have a nightmare in this race though was the United States, as MX2 front runner Zach Osborne could only manage tenth on his local circuit, but MXGP rider Cole Seely retired halfway into the race due to a collapsed shock, putting the USA on the back foot for the rest of the MXoN to secure a top five finish, let alone a podium.

MXoN MXGP/MX2 – Top Five

  1. Great Britain (Max Anstie No.19 – Husqvarna) = 36:10.357s
  2. Slovenia (Tim Gajser No.67 – Honda) = +6.251s
  3. France (Gautier Paulin No.1 – Husqvarna) = +9.398s
  4. Australia (Hunter Lawrence No.23 – Suzuki) = +41.407s
  5. Switzerland (Arnaud Tonus No.16 – Yamaha) = +44.978s

The second race to determine the MXoN 2017 champions was the Open class mixed in with the MX2 category. When the gate dropped it was no surprise really to see The Netherlands grab the holeshot, as Jeffrey Herlings propelled the KTM into the lead, ahead of closest rival in the Open category, Romain Febvre, with the experience of Tanel Leok seeing Estonia in third and Kirk Gibbs put Australia in another strong position by slotting fourth. With the track conditions changeable, the United States again had a nightmare with Thomas Covington falling of the 450F Husqvarna early on, before race leader Jeffrey Herlings hit the deck moments later and handed the lead to Febvre. Herlings was able to remount and set about chasing down the Frenchman and looked to regain the lead. Away the Open contenders, the MX2 riders were again doing battle, this time with Frenchman Enduro GP rider Christophe Charlier putting Team France in contention for victory, as Charlier raced hard with Hunter Lawrence. Zach Osborne was having a consistent ride on the Husqvarna and mixed it up with Charlier and Lawrence as the three diced for MX2 honours. Position changed with Lawrence holding the advantage and broke away to mix it with the 450F in the Open category, in the process passing countryman Kirk Gibbs. Back at the front, Herlings was on the rear of Febvre and secured the lead in one hell of a recovery ride. The two would continue to follow one another, but Febvre had to settle for second as Herlings crossed the line, thirteen seconds ahead. In the battle for third, Hunter Lawrence was again showing the strength of a 250F in these conditions and after passing Italian Alessandro Lupino was on for a third place finish. Unfortunately for Lawrence, the Australian would fall on the start straight and recovered in eighth. The incident allowed Lupino back ahead but also promoted Zach Osborne to fourth. Osborne would then take third in the closing stages however the American wouldn’t secure overall MX2 honours, as eighth for Lawrence at the flag handed the Australian MX2 honours by a solid one point. In this race team GB had a difficult time of things with Tommy Searle starting way down on the opening few laps and only recovering to fifteenth at the flag, whilst Dean Wilson would improve from a poor start to finish seventh, losing out to MX2 Frenchman Christophe Charlier in the final few laps.

MXoN OPEN/MX2 – Top Five

  1. Netherlands (Jeffrey Herlings No.6 – KTM) = 37:59.364s
  2. France (Romain Febvre No.3 – Yamaha) = +13.730s
  3. United States (Zach Osborne No.8 – Husqvarna) = +1:38.876s
  4. Italy (Alessandro Lupino No.15 – Honda) = +1:40.149s
  5. Australia (Kirk Gibbs No.24 – KTM) = +1:44.122s

Going into the final race it was all to play for between France and The Netherlands and Moto 3 would see the big hitters, as the MXGP field went up against the Open class, pitting Paulin and Febvre against Coldenhoff and Herlings, whilst Anstie, Gajser, Cairoli and Van Horebeek would be thrown in as well creating a titanic last race. Tension built before the final gate dropped and when it did, Max Anstie erupted the crowd, taking the final holeshot of the 2017 MXoN ahead of Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek. As Anstie looked to break away out front, the two chasing behind had to deal with Jeffrey Herlings and the “Bullet” was flying on the KTM. Febvre took the lead on lap three with a mistake by Anstie dropping him to second and the front wheel ran wheel to wheel. Just off the top three was a battle between France and Switzerland as Tonus was piling pressure on Paulin and vice-versa when position swapped. When Tim Gajser joined in moments later there were two groups of three dicing for positions within the top five. Positions continued to change lap after lap and at the front, a mistake by Febvre cost the Frenchman the lead as Anstie out jumped him on the finish line jump and held on into the first corner. Febvre slipped up a lap later with Herlings copying Anstie and securing second, a crucial move in terms of points scoring towards who would lift the Chamberlain Trophy. Within the moment of Herlings passing Febvre, the Frenchman made a decisive move of grabbing new goggles from the pits and luckily re-joined back in third. The race was going down to the wire between Herlings and Anstie for the win and backed by the home crowd, Anstie made history for Britain by winning the MXGP category overall by taking his second race win on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. Herlings secured the Open Overall victory by coming home second in this deciding race, but third for Febvre and sixth for Paulin was enough for Team France to be crowned the 2017 Motocross Des Nations championship for a fourth successive time , showing that they had strength in depth and had done enough in all categories!

MXoN OPEN/MXGP – Top Five

  1. Great Britain (Max Anstie No.19 – Husqvarna) = 37:59.163s
  2. Netherlands (Jeffrey Herlings No.6 – KTM) = +1.108s
  3. France (Romain Febvre No.3 – Yamaha) = +1:00.011s
  4. Belgium (Jeremy Van Horebeek No.10 – Yamaha) = +1:20.559s
  5. Slovenia (Tim Gajser No.67 – Honda) = +1:27.401s

With France securing their fourth successive MXoN title with consistency from all three riders, the speed of Jeffrey Herlings rewarded the Netherlands with another runner up spot, repeating the top two from 2016. To send the home crowd wild before a muddy exit from Matterley Basin, the determination from Max Anstie rewarded Team GB with third step on the podium, finishing only one point more than the Netherlands, who ended up 11 points shy of the winning French squad. Just outside the podium positions was Belgium in fourth on 53 points thanks largely to strong results from Jeremy Van Horebeek, meaning overall they finish just three points ahead of Switzerland. The Swiss came home fifth thanks to Arnaud Tonus in the MXGP class and Jeremy Seewer in the Open category picking up top ten finishes on three occasions. Just outside the top five on 58 points was Australia, who most likely surprised a few but performances from Hunter Lawrence and Kirk Gibbs meant they deserved the result they achieved against what some may say, stronger opposition. The rest of the top ten was made up of Italy seventh on 63 points, Estonia eighth with 84 points, The United States a disappointing ninth on 85 points and lastly Sweden on 87 points in tenth.

At the conclusion of the 2017 Motocross Des Nations, announcements were made by Youthstream regarding the 2018 season. The British GP will return to Matterley Basin on the 2nd and 3rd June after missing from calendar in 2017 due to MXoN whilst the venue for the 2018 MXoN was announced as Red Bud, seeing America host the MXoN for the first time since 2010, where the Americans were victorious. As a result of hosting the MXoN in 2018, there would not be a United States GP or Mexico one.  Youthstream also announced that Indonesia would host to GPs in 2018 and for 2019, China would be added to the calendar.

For more photos from the 2017 MXoN, please visit our album here.

Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs

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