The biggest Motocross stars meet this weekend in Ernee, France each representing their country on three-rider teams to compete for the Chamberlain Trophy in the Motocross of Nations.
Also known as the Olympics of Motocross, the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) is a time-honored tradition dating back to 1947 when Great Britain beat Belgium. This year, 35 countries send their best riders to compete in the MXGP or MX1 (450cc), MX2 (250cc) and Open classes.
Each class races twice - against the other classes - for a total of three races. First place winners receive one point rather than the more common 25 points awarded in Motocross, two points for second instead of 22, three points for third, etc. The worst score of the three races is dropped and the lowest combined total score wins.
Riding for Team USA in the MX1 class is Justin Barcia, who took third in the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series. Two-time Motocross 250 class Champion Jeremy Martin lines up for the MX2 class and Cooper Webb makes the leap to the 450 bike for the Open class. Roger DeCoster will manage. Last year, Martin rode with a broken foot and finished 11th in his first race and 13th in the second. Webb, the 2015 Supercross 250 West Champion, raced the 450 bike in the finale of the 2015 Motocross World Championship (MXGP) on Sunday at Glen Helen and took second and third for third overall. Last year, he won the final round of the All Japan Motocross Championship on the 450 bike.
Team USA finished third last year and it won't be easy to topple the defending Champions, host team and obvious favorites to repeat as Marvin Musquin, Romain Febvre and Gautier Paulin line up for Team France. Musquin, the very close runner-up to Martin for the 2015 Motocross Championship is in the MX2 class and is likely looking for redemption after the mechanical failure on his bike in the last round of Motocross ended his Championship hopes.
Additionally, Musquin and Webb faced off during the Motocross season featuring some heated moments between the two, though more verbal off tract then confrontational on tract, but they still get to face each other and should provide plenty of fodder for fans. But enough of that, the Americans and everyone else should have their hands full with the current MXGP Champion in Febvre who is riding lights out right now, and the MXGP runner-up, technically called the vice Motocross World Champion, Paulin, who swept his two races at the 2014 MXoN helping France win be an astounding 10 points over Belgium. Add the rabid fan base on home turf and it might not even be close.
Justin Barcia will ride for Team USA in the MXGP (MX1) class
Australia got some bad news with the last minute loss of Jay Wilson who was to ride in the MX2 class. The 2015 Australian and New Zealand Champion crashed on Monday and suffered a cut on the side of his stomach. It's gnarly enough het infected if not properly treated so he's staying home. He's either kept a sense of humor or just likes to be detailed in his comments since he posted "I'm absolutely gutted" on Instagram. No word on Chad Reed filling in but Todd Waters and Dean Ferris need a teammate.
Belgium enters the contest as defending runner-ups if there's such a term and they bring MXGP regular Kevin Strijbos who left the series early to repair his wrist and returned with solid results in the MXGP class. Jeremy Vanhorebeek, who placed fifth in the MXGP class for the year, rides in the Open class and Julien Lieber, who finished sixth in the MX2 class for MXGP, will ride in the same class at MXoN. Vanhorebeek rode for the Belgium team that won the 2013 MXoN.
Jeremy Martin will ride for Team USA in the MX2 class
Italy will be without Antonio Cairoli who was unable to get his ninth MXGP Championship this year after missing multiple rounds because of injury. He did race in the final round at Glen Helen and crashed but had no plans to face off in the MXoN. Team Italy consists of Ivo Monticelli (MX1), Michele Cervellin (MX2) and Samuele Bernardini (Open).
Great Britain finished fourth last year and brings a solid lineup of Shaun Simpson (MX1), Max Anstie (MX2) and Dean Wilson (Open). Wilson is a regular in stateside Motocross and Supercross but has dealt with a knee injury of late. Simpson meanwhile finished fourth in MXGP this year winning two rounds and also took fourth at Unadilla in a one-off for American Motocross. Anstie finished third in the MX2 class for MXGP taking two rounds. Don't count the Brits out especially if everyone is healthy but Simpson crashed in Race 1 at Glen Helen and didn't lineup for Race 2. He suffered a hematoma on his back but on Monday said he's better and should be ready for MXoN.
Cooper Webb will race in the Open class for Team USA on a 450
Germany rounded out the Top 5 last year and they've got Max Nagl (MX1) who started the MXGPs on fire winning three of four rounds before injury took him out. He managed a sixth-place finish for the year. Henry Jacobi rides in the MX2 class and Dennis Ullrich faces off in the Open class. No Ken Roczen as he had back surgery immediately after Motocross ended. Nagl was part of the German team that won the 2012 MXoN.
Other notables include Toshiki Tomita of Japan who rode under the MotoSport.com/GPI/Honda team for a few rounds this year in Motocross. He'll ride in the MX2 class. Ben Townley is in the MX1 class for New Zealand. Newly crowned MX2 Champion Tim Gajser will ride the Open class for Slovenia.
Practice and Qualifying races get underway Saturday with the full competition on Sunday.
- Race 1: MXGP (MX1) vs. MX2
- Race 2: MX2 vs. Open
- Race 3: MX1 vs. Open
The following countries will compete for the 2015 Chamberlain Trophy:
- United States
- Great Britain
- The Netherlands
- Puerto Rico
- New Zealand
- Czech Republic