The Olympics of Motocross are finally back after a year hiatus due to the pandemic. The Motocross Des Nations went off on Sunday, pitting the world’s top riders against each other in a team event. The Netherlands looked to pull off a second Des Nations win in a row. While heavy-hitters like Great Britain, Germany, and home country heroes, the Italians, were all right on their tail. With the absence of the United States looming over the event, who would reap the spoils of victory in Mantova?
Be sure to catch up on all of our Motocross coverage.
Pre Des Nations Headlines
To the Rafters
Number retirements are almost unheard of in Motorsports. The closest thing to a “retirement” was the No. 3 going unused in the NASCAR Cup Series from 2001-2013 after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. With that in mind, the FIM went against the grain on Saturday. They ensured in a ceremony that Antonio Cairoli‘s No. 222 would never again be used by a rider in the MXGP ranks. Very few riders would have a career worthy of a number retirement anywhere, but Cairoli has done more than enough to warrant his number being taken out of rotation.
🥇Antonio Cairoli Presented with Lifetime Award to Celebrate his Incredible Career🥇
Read more HERE: https://t.co/q8PY6mtcoH#MXGP #Motocross pic.twitter.com/ww04grArF8
— MXGP (@mxgp) September 25, 2021
Coming to America
It had been long suspected but it is now confirmed that the 2022 Motocross Des Nations is coming to America. The 75th edition of the event will take place at RedBud for the second American Des Nations in a row. Fantastic news from the standpoint that this will ensure top riders from the AMA such as Eli Tomac, Dylan Ferrandis, Jett Lawrence, and Ken Roczen will all likely represent their respective countries. Additionally, the Americans not being in just makes it feel like another GP round, so great news all around.
Gate selection for the three qualifying race, as is tradition, were determined via random draw on Friday. The major headlines were that the two favorites, Italy and the Netherlands, both had bottom five gate picks. The MXGP class would have their qualifying heat first on Saturday, and Team Great Britain’s Ben Watson would pull off the holeshot. The storyline of this Moto however was Cairoli, and Team Netherlands’ Glenn Coldenhoff charging from the back. Cairoli, despite a big get-off last weekend, made a mad dash to the front, slashing an eight-second gap to Watson to secure a big win for the Italians.
The MX2 rider to pull off the holeshot was a surprise, to say the least. One Jorgen-Matthias Talviku of Team Estonia, who runs in the EMX250 feeder series. With France’s Tom Vialle and Austria’s Rene Hofer in tow, another pair of notables would not share that same level of fortune. Firstly, Mattia Guadagnini of Team Italy did himself no favors on the start, then Roan Van De Moosdijk of the Dutch went down. Under a minute later, Vialle would take the lead from Talviku and rode on to victory. Guadagnini would be able to rebound to fourth, while Van De Moosdijk made it up to ninth.
The Italians, French and British found themselves in a three-way tie for pole after two Motos. Although the Dutch saw themselves seven points back, they had their ace in the hole Jeffery Herlings ready to go. Although the overwhelming favorite in the Open class, “the Bullet” misfired, and jumped the start, and hit the gate. Despite this, he went from the back to the front with just enough time to spare to take the win over Germany’s Henry Jacobi. Even more importantly, Herlings win gave the Netherlands the pole for Sunday.
Top Five Motocross Des Nations Qualifiers
No. 1 Team Netherlands
No. 2 Team France
No. 3 Team Italy
No. 4 Team Great Britain
No. 5 Team Germany
Motocross Des Nations
Moto 1 (MXGP+MX2)
As was the case in 2019 and 2018, rain would be a factor for Des Nations. It first came down around an hour or so before the first gate drop and showed no signs of stopping early on. In a stunner, both Cairoli and Coldenhoff went down in turn one, with the latter taking a while to get going again. His streak of four straight Des Nations Moto wins was in serious jeopardy. Thomas Kjer Olson, also known as TKO, found a way around early race leader Karlis Sabulis of Latvia for first.
The first major DNF would be Max Nagl of Germany, who was seen in the pits without his front number plate. In any case, it was a big blow to the German’s chances. Team France’s Vialle meanwhile, who bobbled out of second earlier, made his way back to the rear wheel of TKO. Watson of Great Britain was not far behind in third. With that battle getting set up, Cairoli, who had made it inside the top 20, came in for a goggle swap and lost a ton of time.
Down the stretch, Vialle ditched the goggles, signaling that he was not likely to make a pass for the lead. TKO picked up the Moto 1 win, which was almost certainly the first-ever Des Nations win for Denmark. France, due to a pair of top 10 runs from Vialle and Benoit Patrurel put them in the early lead with Belgium and Great Britain behind.
Nations Standings after Moto 1
France 11 Points
Belgium 23 Points
Great Britain 25 Points
Italy 26 Points
Motocross Federation of Russia 26 Points
Denmark 27 Points
Austria 33 Points
The Netherlands 33 Points
Switzerland 34 Points
Canada 35 Points
Moto 2 (MX2 + Open)
With the rain still persisting, all eyes would be focused on ‘the Bullet” who took to the gate for the first time on Sunday. Swiftly, Herlings would find himself out in front and pull out to an early lead. With conditions quickly getting worse, this was big for both Herlings and the Dutch team as a whole, who absolutely needed a good result. Disaster would then strike for the French, as Vialle had a rear-wheel issue that knocked him out of the Moto just minutes in. Almost certainly this would be the throwaway result for France, but disastrous all the same.
Early on, Italy took the provisional lead in the event but ran into some minor trouble. Guadagnini tipped over in a right-hander but luckily did not lose much time. Additionally, one of the people to get by him was his teammate Alessandro Lupino. Later on, there would be more disaster for France, as Mathys Boisrame had an incident that cost him multiple spots. Then for the Dutch, with Van De Moosdijk seconds later.
Herlings would make up for the Van De Moosdijk result, with a monster no doubt win in this second of three Motos. France as a result of a disastrous race, would fall from first to eighth in the points. Italy would take the lead, with Belgium just one point back. The absolute stunner of the year was the team in third, Russia, competing under the name of the national federation.
Nations Standings after Moto 2
Italy 39 Points
Belgium 40 Points
Motocross Federation of Russia 50 Points
Great Britain 52 Points
The Netherlands 54 Points
Austria 61 Points
Switzerland 66 Points
France 68 Points
Estonia 74 Points
Denmark 77 Points
Moto 3 (MXGP + Open)
Herlings would get another monster start to open up the final race, with Cairoli and Watson in tow. Coldenhoff, who had a miserable Moto 1, got a much better start as well, putting himself in fifth early. The bad luck that the French had in Moto 2 would carry over to the Belgians in Moto 3. Cyril Genot, fill in for Jeremy Van Horebeek, bowed out early, effectively ending their hopes of winning. Italy would have a minor scare with a Lupino get-off, but he did not lose much. Watson of Great Britain however had a significant get-off but got off lucky. Then in more bad luck for Belgium, Brent Van Donnick pulled off halfway in, ensuring a maximum points loss for the team in this final Moto.
With under 10 minutes to go, Italy got some grave news. Lupino blatantly cut a corner on the start after getting forced off track. The assumption from the booth was a 10 spot penalty was on the horizon, and the gap was exactly 10 points to the Dutch. Lupino did end up making the one pass needed to make it an 11 point gap. Italy then got the word that it was indeed a 10 spot penalty. Meaning that it came down to just bringing it home. With a second from Cairoli and a seventh from Lupino, the job was done, Italy, for the first time in 19 years, have won the Motocross Des Nations. More so, doing it on home soil in Cairoli’s swan song with high drama down the stretch.
Motocross Des Nations Results
Italy 38 Points (10 spot penalty in Moto 3 for Alessandro Lupino)
The Netherlands 39 Points
Great Britain 39 Points
Motocross Federation of Russia 44 Points
France 50 Points
Belgium 74 Points
Estonia 78 Points
Switzerland 80 Points
Austria 82 Points
Denmark 84 Points
Motocross Des Nations Class Winners
MXGP: No. 7 Ben Watson (Great Britain) (3-4)
MX2: No. 50 Rene Hoffer (Austria) (8-3)
Open: No. 3 Jeffery Herlings (the Netherlands) (1-1)
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images