The Motocross of Nations, the annual event for national teams of three riders, is the largest event of the season and attracted teams from 36 nations to St Jean D'Angely in France. Teams from the USA, France, Australia and Great Britain took the first four places in the final classification and no less than five of the twelve riders in these four teams were racing Kawasakis.
Ryan Villopoto, already the US champion in both Supercross and Motocross, led his country to victory with spectacular rides to third and first places to complete a magnificent hat-trick of success as he was also the inpidual winner of the Open class.
Fellow Kawasaki rider Blake Baggett, riding in the MX2 class, had also headed his qualification race on Saturday, but crashes cost him places on Sunday; showing great fighting spirit, Blake fought back to record the decisive scores which ensured the team success.
Christophe Pourcel of the French team which finished runners-up was dogged by misfortune all day as a stone shattered his goggles in race one, while his drive for victory in his second race was ended by a tyre defect.
Great Britain, also with two Kawasaki riders in their ranks, missed the podium by just two points after terrible bad luck when newly-crowned US 250 champion Dean Wilson was handicapped by a wrist injury which only came to light two days before the event, but did not prevent him recording a top ten finish in his first race.
World MX2 number three Tommy Searle switched to a KX450F for the weekend and put in two stunning rides on a machine he had first ridden just a few days before the event to twice cross the line in fourth position.
Tyla Rattray was another Kawasaki rider to lead his country, his third and fifth placed finishes on his race debut aboard a KX450F ensuring that South Africa finished sixth in the Nations classification.
Ryan Villopoto: “The first two races didn’t go as we wanted, but before the last moto the team told us that 1-2 would do. I had a really good start, I knew that Ryan was at the inside and would have also a good one, and we rode the way we do back home. It was a tough track for us; we don’t have tracks like this in the USA ! Our learning curve had to be really quick; we had to make adjustments to our bikes to get a good feeling. It was tough but we did it and that’s great ! This season has been amazing, it will be hard to beat ! I will work hard this winter and will try to give my best next year, I hope I will be even faster and stronger to come back to the Motocross of Nations again.”
Blake Baggett: “My Saturday was definitively better than my Sunday, but it’s a team race and both Ryans did well. We were a good team. I tried to salvage everything I could and put my head down to finish both races. The first moto was super muddy and the bike was really heavy; I lost the front wheel and crashed on an uphill. Then I had to take of my goggles, and it was hard. The second one I got a decent start behind Ryan; I took the same lines as him but came on a lapped rider, made a mistake and went in the fences. This was by far the most difficult track I ever raced.”
Christophe Pourcel: “Second place is not too bad and we’re pretty happy about it; we had a good team, so we spent a good weekend here. I was sad with the first moto, I got a rock in my lens and with the rain I couldn’t see anything so I had to stop for a new pair in the pits. We spoke with my teammates and the manager before the last race, and we decided that Gautier would have first choice of gate so I was in the middle of the grid but I got a good start and passed Dungey for third, but my rear tyre came off the wheel and I crashed. I was lucky not to be injured!”
Tommy Searle: “I would have like to be on the podium but that didn’t happened. In the second race someone T-boned me on the first lap and I was nearly last but came back to fourth; I passed a lot of good guys and was happy with my riding. The track was rough but the bike was great; I really love the KX450F Kawasaki, it’s the best bike I ever rode. I was just riding it for five or six days before the Nations, and we didn’t have time to test or change anything on it, but it is such a great bike straight out of the crate ! I also like the KX250F which I will still be racing next year of course, but being strong on a KX450F gives me a lot of confidence for the future.”
Dean Wilson: "I hurt my wrist last weekend at Pala for the final AMA National, but it wasn't a big problem until I went practicing on Thursday locally. It swelled up like a balloon and there is definitely something broken. I still had good speed but no luck today. There was a crash at the first corner in my first race and I had to ride from last to 9th, then in the second race I crashed twice when I was headed for a top result."
Tyla Rattray: "I really enjoyed riding the KX450F this weekend and two top five finishes prove that I can ride it well. I will be racing the KX250F again in the Supercross series, but I hope I will be able to race the KX450F in the outdoor Nationals next summer."
Results Motocross of Nations.
Race one, MX2 and MX1 : 1.Chad Reed (AUS, Honda) ; 2.Ken Roczen (GER, KTM) ; 3.Ryan Dungey (USA, Suzuki) ; 4.Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki) ; 5.Tyla Rattray (AFS, Kawasaki) ; 6.Tanel Leok (EST,TM) ; 7.Jonathan Barragan (SPA, Kawasaki) ; 8.Marvin Musquin (FRA, KTM) ; 9.Dean Wilson (GBR, Kawasaki) ; 10.Joel Roelants (BEL, KTM) ; 11.Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki)….15.Filip Neugebauer (CZE, Kawasaki)….17.Blake Baggett (USA, Kawasaki) ; etc…
Race two, MX2 and Open : 1.Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha) ; 2.Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM) ; 3.Ryan Villopoto (USA, Kawasaki) ; 4.Ken Roczen ; 5.Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki); 6.Gareth Swanepoel (AFS, Yamaha); 7.Brett Metcalfe (AUS, Suzuki); 8.Davide Guarneri (ITA, Kawasaki) ; 9.Carlos Campano (SPA, Yamaha); 10.Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha)….17.Blake Baggett
Race three, MX1 and Open : 1.Ryan Villopoto ; 2.Ryan Dungey ; 3.Tyla Rattray ; 4.Tommy Searle ; 5.Davide Guarneri ; 6.Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda) ; 7.Chad Reed ; 8.Gautier Paulin ; 9.Jeffrey Herlings ; 10. Brett Metcalfe….14.Jonathan Barragan; etc…. DNF: Christophe Pourcel, Hiroaki Arai.
Teams result: 1.USA (Baggett, Dungey, Villopoto), 26; 2.France (Musquin, Pourcel, Paulin), 39; 3.Australia (Moss, Reed, Metcalfe), 44; 4.Great Britain (Wilson, Searle, Anderson), 46; 5.Belgium (Roelants, Van Daele, Strijbos), 54; 6.South Africa (Terreblanche, Rattray, Swanepoel), 56; 7.Germany (Roczen, Siegl, Schiffer), 68; 8.Spain (Butron, Barragan, Campano), 68; 9.Netherlands (Bastemeijer, Brakke, Herlings), 81; 10.Estonia (Ratsep, Leok, Krestinov), 86; etc….