SEELY GOES UNDER THE KNIFE

Following the recent Motocross of Nations, Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely opted to undergo surgery on Wednesday, October 4, to remove a plate and four screws from the pinky finger of his right hand. With recovery time estimated at three weeks, Seely will miss the upcoming Monster Energy Cup before beginning his preparation for the 2018 AMA Supercross season. With Seely’s teammate Ken Roczen also sitting out the race as he gets back up to speed following the recovery process from his January injuries, Team Honda HRC will be represented by GEICO Honda rider Christian Craig, who this time will race alongside Team HRC rider and 2016 MXGP Champion Tim Gajser. Craig posted a pair of 11th place finishes while filling in for Team Honda HRC at the 2017 Salt Lake City and Las Vegas Supercross rounds, and he finished 11th overall in the AMA Pro Motocross series.

“I was planning on having the surgery done right after the motocross season ended but obviously had to postpone it when I was selected for the Motocross of Nations,” Seely explained. “It was a really minor procedure, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do because the hardware has been bothering me for a while now. It was hard to make a tight fist and would get sore after races, so I think this will help. I also want to take some time off, which is why I decided to do it now and miss Monster Cup. I’ll have a couple weeks to relax, recover, and let my body rest before diving full-speed into supercross training.”

Craig said that he was excited to ride the Monster Energy Cup with Team Honda HRC. “After spending the entire outdoor season with them, we have a really cool relationship,” he said, “so I’m happy to get the opportunity to keep racing the CRF450R. I’ve always liked MEC because it’s a different format and is exciting for both racers and fans. The team and I started testing a couple weeks ago, and everything has been going awesome. I’m used to the bike, but we just had to tweak a couple things to change it over for supercross. I’ll have a couple more weeks of practice, and then we’ll be in Las Vegas!”

Team NZ 21st in MXoN 2017

SOLID RESULT FROM TEAM NEW ZEALAND IN THE UK

Tauranga’s Josiah Natzke, the top rider for Team New Zealand in Sunday’s B final, where he finished third overall. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

It was a courageous effort, but Team New Zealand could not quite repeat a top-20 result at the weekend’s 71st annual Motocross of Nations in the United Kingdom.

After failing during preliminary qualifying to earn direct entry to Sunday’s main event, the Kiwi trio – Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, Takaka’s Hamish Harwood and Tauranga’s Josiah Natzke – were obliged to race the B Final race first thing on Sunday morning.

This was a “must win” race and, early on, with just two of the three results to be counted, it looked as if they might succeed.

However, even with Natzke finishing third and Harwood seventh, and the Kiwis discarding Cooper’s 14th placing, it wasn’t quite enough to edge out the solid finish of the Slovakian team.

Slovakia was therefore granted a start in Sunday afternoon’s main races (where they eventually finished 19th overall of the 38 nations represented) and Team New Zealand packed up early for the long trip home.

“The word I’d like to use right now you can’t really publish,” said Team New Zealand manager Bevan Weal, of Taupo.

“It’s extremely frustrating, but that’s the way of things with this sport sometimes. It is gut-wrenching to miss out on direct qualification by just one point, Russia outscoring us by just one position on the track. Then to miss out on winning the B Final by just four points from Slovakia … well, it’s depressing.

“It was a case of close but yet so far, and so far away from home too. 

“We had some really good mud riders, but even they were struggling in these conditions today. We’ll be back. Kiwis don’t give up.

 “I want to make a special mention of our sponsors – including Battle of the Clubs, Taupo; Crown Kiwi; Artistic Media and Motorcycling New Zealand – and the whole New Zealand motocross community, without whom we could never have attempted this.”

Team France won the event outright, making it a fourth consecutive year that they have taken away the coveted Chamberlain Trophy.

Runners-up were the men from the Netherlands, with host country Great Britain claiming the third step on the podium.

The Motocross of Nations will be staged at the Red Bud circuit, near Chicago, in the United States next year. 

Final MXoN standings 2017: France 1st; Netherlands 2nd; Great Britain 3rd; Belgium 4th; Switzerland 5th; Australia 6th; Italy 7th; Estonia 8th; USA 9th; Sweden 10th. New Zealand was credited with 21st overall.

France Triumph at MXoN 2017

Team France Triumph at MX of Nations, Again

Words and Photos by Julian Challis

In a tense and hard fought battle over three motos, Team France won the Motocross of Nations and retained the Chamberlain Trophy for the fourth time in a row in desperately muddy and challenging conditions.

Yet despite their historic win for Romain Febvre, Gautier Paulin and Christophe Charlier, the stand out performance of the weekend came from Team GBs Max Anstie. After a strong showing on day one, Anstie lead the first MXGP and MX2 from start to finish in front of an ecstatic home crowd.

If that were not enough, the Husqvarna rider then went on to take the chequers in much the same way in the final race despite strong challenges from first Roman Febvre and later, Jeffrey Herlings.

But Herlings need not have been too disappointed – His win in the MX2 and Open race combined with the help of team mates Brian Bogers and Glenn Coldenhoff to second place overall behind France. Anstie’s stellar rides backed up by strong races from Dean Wilson allowed the team the final podium spot, the achievement compensating for Tommy Searle’s DNF in the first race and ending a twenty year stint away from the MXoN podium. By any measure, this was a very special weekend.

For Team New Zealand, the day ended far earlier than ever intended. Consigned to ride the B Final thanks to a low score on day one, Cooper, Natzke and Harwood fought valiantly throughout the moto and against the cloying and exhausting mud.

After a disappointing day during qualification Josiah Natzke was the star performer taking third place with Harwood not far behind and Cooper back in 14th. But with only place up for grabs, the team lost out to Slovakia who went 2-4-5 to progress to the final races – Team New Zealand took the long walk back to the paddock.

Race 1 MXGP & MX2

The first race of the day left the line just after 1 pm and straight off Team GBs Max Anstie was out in front and scorching along the pit lane well ahead of the pack. To the rapture of the British contingent in the crowd. He quickly stretched his lead despite the best effort of Gautier Paulin who held second for eight of the twelve laps before being overhauled by Slovenia’s Tim Gasjer. Behind the leasing two, Hunter Lawrence was repeating his form from the previous day progressing through from 6th and managing to take Team Switzerland Arnaud Tonus on the final lap to grab fourth.

Anstie’s performance was sadly not backed up by teammate Searle who had a clutch fail on his 250 Kawasaki leading to a DNF placing the team under greater pressure in the remaining races. For Team France Christophe Charlier rode a solid race to come in fourteenth only three places behind a distinctly underperforming Antonio Cairoli. For Team USA, the day did not go to plan either, Osborne managed 10th but his efforts were offset by Cole Seeley who DNF’d with collapsed rear suspension on his Factory Honda.

With one race gone, France led the Netherlands with Switzerland in third.

Race 2 MX2 & Open

There was little rest for the MX2 Class riders as within an hour they were back on the line to race against the 450 machines of the Open class. Herlings was the strong favourite and didn’t disappoint, taking the lead from the first corner, closely followed by Romain Febvre.

Unexpectedly the French rider was able to overtake the Dutchman on the third lap, a position he would maintain for a good proportion of the race before Herlings was able to regroup and retake the lead in the closing five laps to take the podium by an eventual thirteen seconds. Australia’s Kirk Gibbs was not far behind the two Open riders for almost half the race before eventually losing out to the Italian Alessandro Lupino and then his team mate Hunter Lawrence. Lawrence got to third briefly but a last late bobble dropped him back to eighth.

For team France, Charlier found his mojo in the second race, his 6th place finish underlining Febvre’s second and helping the team stay in pole position after the second race, with The Netherland remaining in second and Australia bumped up to third. For Team GB Searle’s 15th and Wilson’s 7th had elevated the squad to fifth and in sight of the final podium.

Race 3 MXGP and Open

The stage was set for a stunning final and the race did not disappoint. Max Anstie responded to the collective will of the crowed and repeated his holeshot, closely followed by Romain Febvre, Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek and the ever-present threat of Herlings. Anstie stretched a leads but a slight bobble saw Febvre take the lead, but Anstie was not going to let the double win go. Turning the wick up to 11 on his Husqvarna, the Brit retook the lead four laps later, Febvre’s threat reduced by having to defend his position from a charging Jeffrey Herlings. The Dutchman put in his best effort, taking Febvre and going after the British rider. But Anstie was just too strong, taking the last chequered flag to a deafening roar from the crowd.

For everything that Max had done, Gautier Paulin’s solid sixth place behind Febvre was enough to seal the deal, the French Team taking the title for a record fourth time. Paulin himself is now one of only three riders that have ever been in four consecutive winning teams, and France is now one of only 5 nations that have won the event four times. Their victory was well deserved and brilliantly ridden.

France Blasts into MXoN Lead

Team France take first blood on opening day At the Motocross of
Nations

Words and Photos by Julian Challis

The French team put on a confident and impressive display in all three races
to come away in pole position on the first day of the Motocross of Nations. But
the win was far from dominant as their four point total was matched by an
equally impressive show from the Dutch team, lead of course by Jeffrey
Herlings, the second place coming from a 1 -3 score, narrowly beaten by the
reigning champions 2 – 2 tally.

But for motocross fans down under, the placing of Team Australia in third will
be the stand out result from the day, with Hunter Lawrence coming within one
lap of winning his heat and Kirk Gibbs mixing it with the best in MXGP to
place fourth in the open class. While Dean Ferris’ score was the one that got
dropped, seventh place in this company was still a great result.

For the New Zealand team, the day didn’t go as well. Cody Cooper was the
best performer with a twelfth place in the MXGP class and Hamish Harwood
finished seventeenth. For Josh Natzke it was a day to forget, getting a bad
start and falling to see him dead last at the end of lap one, The Kiwi rallied to
an eventual 23 rd place crossing the line looking battered and with his visor
hanging in pieces from his crash helmet.

After such an eventful first day, the prospect for the three races tomorrow
could not be better. Overnight rain will no doubt play a part in the results, but
given their unbeaten run over the past three MXoN events, is anyone going to
bet against the French?

Race 1 MXGP

The opening race saw the MXGP riders head to the line with the big hitters of
the 2017 World Champion Antonio Cairoli, reigning MXoN champ Gautier
Paulin and 2016 World champion Tim Gasjer going head to head. But it was
Australia’s Dean Ferris that got the Fox holeshot, crossing the stripe ahead of
a charging pack. Gasjer moved to the front within the first lap, closely
followed by Paulin Cairoli and Team GBs Max Anstie. Cody Cooper was
buried back in 14 th , a position he would only improve by two places by the end
of the moto.

For Ferris, maintaining the blistering pace of the MXGP elite on the fast and
technical Matterley circuit was a tough call, and on lap four he was overhauled
by first Jeremy Van Horebeek, another former MXoN champ and a lap later by

Team Russia’s Evgeny Bobryshev, to finish the day with a strong seventh
place in his class.

But the race belonged to Gasjer, leading every lap to an eventual win with a
five second margin from Paulin. Cairoli took the third spot a position he held
for all but one circulations, his score sheet only punctuated by a fantastic and,
for the home crowd, promising ride from Team GB’s Max Anstie who came in
forth on the chequers.

Race 2 MX2

If the first outing set out a strong stall for the Australia team, then the 250
class race certainly continued the theme. Suzuki’s Hunter Lawrence
screamed out of the downhill start gate to smash the holeshot and set off into
the distance from the pack. Within just a few corners Lawrence had stretched
an incredible lead from second place Brian Bogers for Team Netherlands, and
Spain’s Jorge Prado Garcia, both on KTMs. At the end of lap one, Lawrence
had puled away further and Team GBs Tommy Searle held fourth place from
Frenchman and recent enduro convert Christophe Charlier.

But if either though their places were safe, they hadn’t bargained for the AMA
2017 SX and MX champion, not to mention former British MX champion Zach
Osborne. The Husqvarna rider sliced through the pack with the determination
of the Terminator, pushing up to second behind Lawrence in five quick laps.

For the Kiwi Team, the wheels fell off early on when a poor started turned
worse with a big off for Josh Natzke. Relegated to 37 th and at the very back of
the pack, the team’s MX2 pilot dis well to regroup to an eventual 23 rd place
finish.

Despite his initial lead, the frighteningly fast Osborne reeled in Lawrence over
the remaining five laps, the pair coming close to trading paint on several
occasions as the Aussie tried to hold off the screaming Husqvarna behind
him. But it was too much, Osborne’s relentless pressure grabbing the lead
and the flag a few minutes later.

Race 3 Open

As showstoppers go, having Jeffrey Herlings in the final race was always
going to tick boxes. The former MX2 champ and 2017 MXGP runner up had
beasted his timed practice earlier in the day, gapping the field by close to
three seconds. And the race would prove no different – Herlings took the front
on the very first lap and stayed there for the entire moto to reach the finish line
an incredible 28 seconds ahead of the second place man Romain Febvre.

But Febvre played it cool, realising that trying to beat ‘The Bullet’ would be a
dangerous game. The 2015 World champ rode a solid and consistent race to
take second, his pace good enough to leave him too with a comfortable
margin.

But behind this duo the real story of the race was unfolding. Usually on a 250,
Switzerland’s Jeremy Seewer took his open class Suzuki to the holeshot and
despite being passed by Herlings and Febvre on the first lap, Seewer would
keep his nerve to hold onto third place for the rest of the moto. His finishing
result, added to the good work done by his team mates Arnaud Tonus and
Valentin Guillod would leave his country in sixth place overall behind Team
GB and the U.S.A.

And the stand out ride? That had to be Kirk Gibbs for Team Australia who was
simply astounding for the entire race. Gibbs locked down fourth place from
lap one and his strong pace and focus kept him there right to the end, despite
mounting pressure from Team GB’s Dean Wilson and Belgium’s Kevin
Strijbos. Gibbs fourth place added to Lawrence’s second was enough to put
Australia in the top three, just two point behind the Netherlands. A podium at
Matterley is very possible for the three Aussies.

After such an eventful first day, the prospect for the three races tomorrow
could not be better. Overnight rain will no doubt play a part in the results, but
given their unbeaten run over the past three MXoN events, is anyone going to
bet against the French?

All-New 2018 Yamaha YZ450FM To Debut at MXoN

Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek Set to Debut the All-New 2018 YZ450FM at MXoN

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s duo of Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek are poised to debut the all-new 2018 Yamaha YZ450FM at the biggest and most popular off-road event of the year, the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations, this weekend at Matterley Basin, Winchester, England. 

The Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nation’s is the most prestigious motocross event on the calendar. It is a team race – the only one of its kind – where riders with the same nationality are put into teams of three. Each rider will compete in two races which will give each team a total of six race results at the end of the day. Only the five best results will contribute to the overall score.

The most anticipated event of the year will see Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s duo of Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek debut the revolutionary 2018 Yamaha YZ450FM, a bike that has been completely overhauled and redesigned from the ground up – as tested in DRD Issue 145.

Described as lighter, narrower and more compact, both riders agree that the cutting-edge improvements to the YZ450F offer extra stability and control over rough terrain, better braking, and even greater traction. Both riders will be lining up on the ‘works’ version of the bike, the YZ450FM.

Representing the defending champions, Romain Febvre will be lining up for Team France for the third time in his career. He has been on the team for the last two-years and has won his class and the overall on both occasions.

Jeremy Van Horebeek has been a staple in the Belgian team since his MXoN debut back in 2007 where he was able to celebrate with a bottle of champagne on the third step of the podium. He has remarkably represented his country, Team Belgium, nine-times, of which, he has landed on the podium seven-times. This weekend he hopes to replicate the same sort of ‘Nations’ success he has become so accustomed to.

Adding to Yamaha’s presence this weekend, Australia’s own Yamaha ace Dean Ferris will be lining up for Team Australia. Ferris has also been invited to join former Yamaha heroes Paul Malin and Jeff Emig on the live Studio Show which will be broadcast on MXGP’s official Facebook page at 9am GMT-0 on Saturday 30th of September.

This weekend, the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations will be taking place at the same venue that has staged the British Grand Prix every year for the last six years, Matterley Basin. It is also the same venue that hosted the Motocross of Nations back in 2006, an event that is often referred to as one of Britain’s best.

The event will kick-off with practice sessions on Saturday morning followed by the Qualifying Races for MXGP, MX2 and Open starting at 1:30pm GMT-0.

We’ll have coverage right here on drd.co.nz from our man on the ground, so check back on Sunday for the full recap of the racing action of Day 1.