2019 Motocross Of Nations | Sunday Race Report
Three motos. Months of anticipation, planning, and patriotism go into a single weekend every autumn as countries from around the world vye for the chance to say they are home to the best motocross riders. The 2019 Motocross Of Nations had been hyped for years, ever since the manmade sand track at TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands was announced as the venue, and Sunday’s races lived up to the excitement. Rain fell at various times in all three motos, riders toed the line of speed and near disaster in the sloppy conditions, and the tension increased with every lap. Here’s how the 73rd MXON played out…
MOTO ONE | MXGP & MX2
The sprint to the first turn was between Tim Gajser and Jorge Prado, riders that wanted to make as big of a personal impact as possible due to the slim chances of their countries making the overall podium. Spain’s Prado held his own against Gajser with a bar to bar battle on the opening lap, then pulled ahead of the rider from Slovenia. The gap between the two stayed close for much of the moto, thanks in part to their different styles and line choices until Gajser made his big move on the tenth lap. It was good that Gajser passed when he did because it gave him a chance to build a lead that was critical in the final laps.
Jeffrey Herlings had a very mixed moto to start the day. Widely seen as the winner for the MXGP class, the rider from the Netherlands struggled in the opening laps and was shuffled far back in the field. It took some time for Herlings to get going, but when he finally found the pace, it was incredible to see him plot and pass those ahead. The last laps were a mad dash to the checkered flag, as Herlings was the fastest on the track and made up ground on leader Gajser. The two started the final laps just feet apart, went all-out in the muck and through lapped traffic, and came into the final turns with practically even odds of winning the race. In the end, it was Gajser’s early lead and ability to control the lines that allowed him to take the win and Herlings nabbed the runner-up spot.
Justin Cooper and Jason Anderson started the day’s first race very well, with both around the top-ten on the opening lap, but disaster soon struck and hung over the American team for the rest of the day. The two were side by side when they went through the smooth, sloppy wave section until Cooper’s bike dove to the left and right into Anderson’s path. They went down in a heap, remounted the battered bikes, and pushed on for the best results possible. Anderson was able to climb back to 17th place at the checkered flag, while Cooper had to do every lap with mangled controls on his handlebars (no clutch lever to pull, a front brake lever that was twisted into a U-shape) and finished 29th.
At the end of Moto One, two small and very similar countries were tied for second overall. Gautier Paulin’s habit of putting in big results at important times came in handy for France during the day’s first race, as his fifth-place finish and Maxime Renaux’s 18th place finish put them at 23 points.
Last-minute changes to the team roster made many question the capabilities of Switzerland, but at the end of Moto One, the small country was ranked second overall with 23 points thanks to a fourth-place finish by Jeremy Seewer and a 19th place finish by Valentin Guillod.
Herlings win, paired with a 10th place result by teammate Calvin Vlaanderen, put the Netherlands into the lead after one race with 12 points.
A look at the results of Moto One shows the big differences in finishes between riders on some teams, like Spain, Norway, and Belgium. A 24th place ride by Adam Sterry and a mechanical-caused DNF/36th place result by Nathan Watson put Great Britain in a massive hole at the start of the day. This is part of the allure to the MXON and made the remaining motos even more important.
MOTO TWO | MX2 & OPEN
Glenn Coldenhoff’s record at the Motocross of Nations is impressive and in Moto Two, the rider from the Netherlands added another victory to his total. It was practically a perfect race for Coldenhoff, as he rounded the first turn in second place and made a pass on Estonia’s Harri Kullas for the lead on the opening lap. From there, Coldenhoff clicked off quick, consistent laps and pulled to a five-second margin of victory at the finish line. This result, plus another 10th place from Vlaanderen, put the Netherlands 36-points clear of the other countries with one race left to be run.
Pauls Jonass continued his solid weekend in the sand with a second-place finish to Coldenhoff. This was a big result for the rider from Latvia; unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to make up for the three results outside the top-20 posted by teammates Davis Ivanovs and Toms Macuks.
The third-place result by Shaun Simpson in Moto Two was monumental for Great Britain, as it and Adam Sterry’s 12th place took the team from the bottom of the overall results to ninth.
A sixth-place finish by Jordi Tixier helped balance out France’s scores, especially after a 30th place result by Maxime Renaux. With this, France managed to stay in second place overall ahead of the final moto.
Belgium had up-down results in Moto Two; Jago Geerts was the top finishing MX2 rider in the race with a surprising seventh, while Kevin Strijbos overcame small crashes to climb back to a 17th place finish.
It was another mixed moto for the American team. Justin Cooper lined up with a broken knuckle in his hand from the Moto One crash, battled through the pain, and netted a 29th place result. Zach Osborne, meanwhile, salvaged the team’s overall with a fifth-place finish in his first ride of the day. At this point, the American riders were 11th overall.
MOTO THREE | MXGP & OPEN
Tim Gajser made good on his pursuit of the MXGP class overall win. The rider from Slovenia took the lead thanks to a great start, but tipped over in the muck and allowed one important rider to go by. It didn’t matter much in the big picture for Gajser, because his 1-2 finishes were more than enough for him to claim the personal prize.
It would have taken a catastrophe for The Netherlands to lose control of the overall in the final moto. The pre-race favorites were so far ahead of the others on the line that Jeffrey Herlings and Glenn Coldenhoff could have cruised through the race without raising their heart rates too much. Instead, Coldenhoff nabbed a fifth-place start, worked his way up to the lead after the mistakes by Gajser and passes on Jeremy Van Horebeek and Pauls Jonass, and pulled clear to a 2.4-second lead. Herlings, meanwhile, had a number of crashes in the early laps and had to pick his bike up off the ground and pass some riders multiple times due to the mistakes. It was easy to tell where Coldenhoff or Herlings were on the track because the crowd in the Tribune stands erupted when the two went by. Coldenhoff’s win promised the Dutch the overall win, while Herlings’ push from deep in the top-20 to fourth gave everyone in attendance something to watch. With 1-1-2-4-10 scores tallied up (one of Vlaanderen’s 10th place finishes was the dropped result), The Netherlands claimed the Chamberlain Trophy for the very first time in the 73-year history of the event.
Belgium’s final race of the weekend was collectively their best. Jeremy Van Horebeek posted another sixth-place finish, the most consistent of the team, while Kevin Strijbos stayed clear of possible problems for an 11th place result. Once Jago Geert’s 30th from Moto One was written off, Belgium took second overall with 6-6-7-11-17 rides.
Great Britain’s overall result wasn’t clear until the final lap, when a mechanical issue struck the French and shifted the results. The duo of Nathan Watson and Shaun Simpson went 9-10 in the final race, a rare sign of consistency in a wild day, dropped the 36th place finish from Watson’s Moto One DNF, and claimed third overall with 3-9-10-12-24 results.
Estonia’s performance was overlooked during the races, but on paper, it’s impressive to see what the small country was able to do over the course of three motos. Harri Kullas’ 4-12 results, Tanel Leok’s 13-4 results, and Priit Ratsep’ 21-25 results were good on their own and were made much better when Ratsep’s 25 was wiped away. With 64 points, Estonia finished the weekend fourth overall.
The aforementioned misfortune by France happened to Gautier Paulin, who was 10th in the late stages of the race. The long moto in the muck took a toll on the motorcycle and when the white flag was in the race official’s hand, Paulin was spotted on the side of the track with a dead bike and credited with 23rd. Since the team’s tossed score was used on Renaux’s 30th, 23 points were added to the total and pushed France from the podium.
Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne knew that a flawless performance was going to be necessary to have of Cooper’s injury-riddled results needed to be wiped from the total and for a chance to step on the podium. Anderson mixed it up with his European counterparts for an eighth-place ride, while Osborne experienced a goggle issue, pulled in for a change, and hustled back to 13th at the end of the race. It was enough to clear Cooper’s results and 5-8-13-17-25 added up to 68 points, which tied them with France. Officials looked at each team’s worst result and used that as the deciding factor; Paulin’s 23 was better than Cooper’s 28.