The Motocross of Nations is the biggest and best motocross of the year and once again New Zealand will have a massive presence at this “Olympic Games of motocross”.

The year’s event, on the first day of October, will be the 71st edition of the great race.

It is set this time for the rolling grassland of Matterley Basin, near Winchester, in south-west England, and New Zealand again has a team this year that is capable of impressing – Mount Maunganui pair Cody Cooper and Rhys Carter and Hamilton’s Josiah Natzke. 

They have as good a chance as anyone of ending the win streak of the team from France. The three-rider team from France won the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) in Latvia in 2014, in France in 2015 and then again in Italy last season.

“It has taken a lot of discussion and we are happy with the team that we have selected,” said Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Howard Lilly. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the team performs this year and I believe they are capable of achieving a finish among the top 10 countries,” said Lilly.

With support from the entire New Zealand motorcycling community and Motorcycling New Zealand, the squad will again be managed by Bevan Weal, the 48-year-old the owner of a Taupo sign and graphics company.

“Bring it on I say”, said Weal. 

“We have had fantastic support again from all of New Zealand’s motorcycle clubs, from Greymouth to Invercargill, to Whangarei, Whakatane and New Plymouth. Right across the country the support has been enormous.

“I know these riders will do New Zealand proud. Each of them have already competed previously on the world stage, so they have the experience they need to do the job.

“The Motocross of Nations is the pinnacle event for everyone attending, including myself as team manager. This is an individual sport that is turned into a team sport and there’s nothing like it.”

 New Zealand has been on the MXoN podium on three memorable occasions in recent times – at Foxhills, in England, in 1998; at Namur, in Belgium, in 2001 and at Matterley Basin, in England, in 2006.

With Kiwi riders taking their careers overseas in increasing numbers, the likelihood of New Zealand winning the Motocross des Nations has gone from far-fetched dream to achievable reality.

That is also perhaps the case in England this year, with five-time and current New Zealand MX1 champion Cooper and national MX1 class No.3 Carter to ride 450cc bikes.

Natzke will race the MX2 (250cc) class and he is a two-time former national 125cc champion who currently races in the European 250cc Motocross Championships, featuring among the top five title contenders. Natzke also finished runner-up in the European 125cc Motocross Championships in 2015.

The Kiwi trio that raced at the MXoN in Italy last year comprised Cooper, Harwood and Natzke and they finished 17th overall among the more than 30 countries entered.

 Words and photo by Andy McGechan,

KTM Confirms 2018 MXGP Roster

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have confirmed that their current rider roster will remain the same for the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship after Glenn Coldenhoff signed a contract to compete alongside Tony Cairoli in MXGP next year and on the KTM 450 SX-F.

The 26 year old Dutchman has already graced the podium of the premier class this term as the squad holds a hefty 91 point lead with Cairoli in control at the top of the MXGP points table and third teammate, Jeffrey Herlings, lies in fourth place, just 5 points from a KTM 1-2.

#259 has offered solid feedback on the development of the 450 SX-F (all official KTM riders have earned silverware with the motorcycle in 2017) and his working relationship with the entire team has been an important factor in the general high level and performance of the crew in what is arguably the most competitive field seen in MXGP.

“I’m really happy I have the opportunity to stay with KTM for another year,” said Glenn from his Dutch base and from a position of 11th in 2017 MXGP standings. “The co-operation within the team is really good and they provide me with the best material, conditions and circumstances to fulfil the job. I will continue to work with the same people so we can keep on building.”

“I feel like I am still growing as an athlete and a racer,” he added. “And I’m sure with this team the results will come.”

“We are pleased to continue with Glenn. We have had two positive years with him and have always worked with enthusiasm and great will to improve,”commented MXGP Team Manager Claudio de Carli. “Glenn is very well integrated into the team and always ready to work in training, in physical preparation and in bike development. We think that Glenn has the potential to achieve a bit more in terms of results, and our goal is to make him fight for the positions he deserves in Grand Prix. This renewal for a third year means that we trust him, we want to motivate him and the whole team is ready to do their utmost to help him to express and demonstrate his value to KTM.”

“When we signed Glenn we knew we were getting a smart and studious rider and one that would take some time to settle in, find the right feeling with the bike and then push-on,” said KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer. “We also knew he would fit well into our factory team and this has been very much the case, so it was easy to imagine Glenn again being part of our plans. We know with three years with Claudio and the boys we’ll be able to see some more of his full potential.”

Courtney Duncan Takes Back WMX lead

NZ’s Courtney Duncan takes back the lead in Women’s Motocross World Champs

Courtney Duncan has raced the smartest of her short but stunning international career in the Czech Republic this weekend, to wrest back the red plate at the fourth round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship.

Held at the hard pack and challenging Loket, circuit, the two-day MXGP of Czech Republic saw Duncan (21) record a near perfect 1-2 set of results. Her cool, calm and calculated race craft enabled her to spring-board back up the leaderboard, from third in the previous round, to now lead Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi by three points and defending champion Livia Lancelot, of France, by seven points.

Her coach, fellow New Zealander Josh Coppins, says he was proud of what she achieved this weekend and he “couldn’t be happier” with his #151 Altherm JCR Yamaha racer’s performance, in what is only her second season competing at the highest international level.

“It was an important race to get back the red plate with only two rounds to go now. She’s improved hugely not necessarily as a faster rider but as a smarter rider, so that’s what we have been working hard on,” Coppins says.

The first race started out with the Netherlands’ Shana Van der Vlist leading the way but she quickly dropped positions to the heavy hitters and title contenders. In the end Duncan, came back from eighth place on the first lap to make a pass on Fontanesi only two corners before the finish, to take an incredibly, well-executed win.

Interviewed after the race by MXGPTV, Duncan talked about a controlled race strategy.

“I got a terrible start actually and got pushed wide on the first corner and had to come from really far back. In my sighting lap I knew that it was really slippery, so I knew I just had to be patient on the first opening laps so I didn’t risk any passes on the other riders. I found my way to fourth and then just took it from there,” Duncan said.

Sunday’s race two started with a holeshot from Belgium’s Armandine Verstappen who was chased hard by Duncan. She stayed on the back of Verstappen for the first half of the race before losing traction in a corner and going down, and while Duncan didn’t lose the position she did drop 16 seconds off the lead.

Behind Duncan and Verstappen, it was Fontanessi charging forward from a sixth on the first lap to the back wheel of Livia Lancelot in third. The two former champions eventually came together after Fontanesi’s inside line faded to the outside and into Lancelot.

Coppins had high praise for Duncan.

“Probably the best she has ridden forme at a GP since she started doing them. Finally, she took her time and was very calculated and patient. She understands she doesn’t need to win every lap and every corner. She took her time and pick and choose the right moments to make passes and took her time to get the job done.”

“So from a team point of view it has been very successful. Obviously to get the red plate is very important but for me above all of that it was the performance that I was most happy with and her patience which is what has been her weak point up until now,” he says.

Duncan is based in Dunedin when back home in New Zealand but has been living in Europe since April. Over the past eight weeks since the last WMX round she says she has been training really hard and it has obviously paid off.

She looks forward now to her favoured conditions, in the Dutch GP sand on September 9 and 10.

Duncan thanked her team, sponsors, family and friends for their on-going support. She also gave a special shout-out to her mechanic Bjorn Stockmans.

“He works daylight to dark for me and I wouldn’t be here without him,” she says.

RESULTS: WMX Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Yamaha), 25:19.226; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:00.462; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:06.263; 4. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:22.865; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Suzuki), +0:25.549; 6. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), +0:28.055; 7. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, Yamaha), +0:42.583; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, Yamaha), +0:53.416; 9. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +1:12.606; 10. Emelie Dahl (SWE, Yamaha), +1:22.855

WMX Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 24:50.505; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Yamaha), +0:11.785; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:18.794; 4. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, Yamaha), +0:26.020; 5. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:27.815; 6. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:43.576; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:53.687; 8. Emelie Dahl (SWE, Yamaha), +1:04.374; 9. Sandra Karlsson (SWE, Kawasaki), +1:06.897; 10. Virginie Germond (SUI, Yamaha), +1:10.883

WMX Overall Top 10: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, YAM), 47 points; 2. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 40 p.; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 40 p.; 4. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, YAM), 37 p.; 5. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 34 p.; 6. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, YAM), 32 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 26 p.; 8. Emelie Dahl (SWE, YAM), 24 p.; 9. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 23 p.; 10. Madison Brown (AUS, YAM), 19 p.

WMX Championship Top 10: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, YAM), 155 points; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, YAM), 152 p.; 3. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 148 p.; 4. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 143 p.; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 122 p.; 6. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 121 p.; 7. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, YAM), 119 p.; 8. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 89 p.; 9. Francesca Nocera (ITA, SUZ), 77 p.; 10. Virginie Germond (SUI, YAM), 70 p

MOVING IMAGE: Video footage of #151 Courtney Duncan racing the Loket track in the Czech Republic at the fourth round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship, is available here. There is an interview with her at the end of the clip.

Jeremy Van Horebeek Q&A

With the pedigree in MXGP being higher than ever, being better than the rest is almost an impossible task. Determined to achieve the same results and consistency that made him the Vice World Champion in 2014, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek has been tweaking his program eager to find an extra ‘something’ that will propel him to the top of the box. ‘The Jerre’, as he is often referred to, is tired of being the underdog. He wants to win, and he wants it bad…

What steps are you taking to get the edge on the competition?

“We have some big plans for the upcoming weeks to do with my training schedule. We will make some changes and the only thing I will miss is time on the bike and race rhythm, but I think we are about to make a big step on the physical side. I am up early, to train and get to see my physio and people like that. I am really focused, and I am doing everything I can to make sure my physical condition, the food I eat, the time I rest, everything is right so that I can’t blame myself. I just want to win.”

Has your season gone to plan so far?

“The season started off really well for me, but then it’s always the same with me. It seems like there always has to be some kind of issue or set-back. I don’t know why. I got the stomach problems, and then an issue in my back and while I can still race, all of those things had an effect on my training. So, the speed I had at the start of the year I couldn’t maintain with these injuries. Other than those things, I would say my season was going pretty good. If I didn’t have bad-luck I would be in the top three.”

What changes have you made to improve yourself or the bike?

“We are always making changes to the bike. It never stops in this world because everything is always developing. Not just us, but the other teams as well and we all have to keep up with and be better than each other. We always have to keep searching. In terms of me, myself, I am for sure in better shape this year than last year. I still train with the same trainer, but this year we have a really good program in the gym, a lot to do with stability and things like that. Before I had the small problems at the start of this season, I really felt in the best shape of my life. It’s all part of life and this sport. I have been around a while so I know how to handle a setback.”

What motivates you to win?

“The people around me keep me motivated. So many people tell me that I have so much talent, but that other people are working harder. I always hear that. My entire life, from people in the team and outside of the team. I hear that I have an enormous talent from so many different people, it must be true. At the end of the day, that goes through my mind and that is what motivates me to keep digging and keep pushing. It will pay off one day, I believe it myself. I still have 3 or 5 years at the top, so a lot can happen in those years. Look at Tony Cairoli, he is 30 and he is still leading. If he can do it, it’s still going to be possible.”

What are your goals for the rest of the season?

“I plan to win at least one GP before the end of the season. I have won one grand prix in MXGP, in my career and otherwise I am always there, or close. I have a dream and what I really want to do is win the grand prix in Belgium, my home GP. I am definitely not a ‘sand rider’, but I can ride in the sand, but I don’t like it, I just do it because it’s my job. I am pretty good in the sand even if I don’t like it so much and I proved it in Valkenswaard when I nearly won the first race there. I felt really good that day and I was on the podium. That was a good feeling, and to be fighting for the win. I think it can happen, so myself and my crew, we are working so hard to put the puzzle together.”

Jed Beaton joins HRC Honda for Czech MXGP

HRC MX2 welcomes Honda Racing Family member for Czech MXGP

As the FIM world motocross championship heads into Round 13 in Loket this weekend, Cervellin is joined in MX2 by EMX250 rider and fellow Honda Racing family member; Jed Beaton.

Jed Beaton joins the HRC MX2 team for three rounds this year in-between his championship races in the EMX250 series. Beaton, who races for Carglass Honda in the EMX250 class, will be racing for HRC in Czech, Lommel and Assen this year. It is a big opportunity for the Aussie, who only made his debut racing in Europe this year when Honda decided to bring him into the series, fresh from winning his MX2 national title in Australia.

“I am really excited to be riding for HRC, said Beaton. I am grateful that my team Carglass Honda have allowed me to do this in-between the EMX250 championship this year. I got to test the bike this week and I felt comfortable on it straight away which is a positive start. This will be my first race in MX2 so I am not expecting anything major for my first race but I have got expectations and I want to tick them off and hopefully improve every time I go out and ride. Loket looks like a pretty good track, it’s hard pack and stony but I don’t mind that so let’s see what I can do this weekend!”

Cervellin has been visiting HRC in Japan during the short summer break and since he has returned home he has been back on his CRF250RW to prepare for the MXGP of Czech Republic. The stony hard packed nature of the circuit in Loket should mean that Cervellin is a solid contender for this weekend