The U.S. Motocross of Nations team went to Erneé, France, and the 2015 FIM Motocross of Nations with a single goal: win. Team France, the defending champions and riding on their home turf, had another thing in mind, and that of course was to win the title for the second year in a row.
Story and photos by Jeff Kardas
The U.S. Motocross of Nations team went to Erneé, France, and the 2015 FIM Motocross of Nations with a single goal: win. Team France, the defending champions and riding on their home turf, had another thing in mind, and that of course was to win the title for the second year in a row -- and that’s exactly what they did.
After three motos that set the best riders the motocross world head-to-head for the world team championship, France was able to head-off the hard-charging American team by a mere two points (14 to 16). Belgium was a distant third with 56 points.
Heading into Sunday’s three main motos, the U.S. team was in good position after finishing just behind France in qualifying, and after the morning’s warmups the team was feeling even better. The rumor was that France’s Romain Febvre sustained a significant knee injury which would slow him down, and that Jeremy Martin had set the fastest lap, neither of which would matter when the gate dropped for the first of three motos.
Race 1: MX2 (250cc) and MXGP (450cc)
Pairing AMA 250cc MX champion Jeremy Martin against his nemesis Marvin Musquin, and Justin Barcia against Gautier Paulin, the stage was set for epic battles and inspired rides before the reported 80,000 spectators. Barcia was able to pull the holeshot and early lead to start the 30 minute plus two-lap moto off right for the U.S. team, while Martin was a bit further back but still in good position. After heated racing for the lead and multiple lead changes between Barcia and Musquin, along with a couple of mistakes, the American was able to build a comfortable gap and bring home the win. Russia’s Evgeny Bobryshev and Germany’s Max Nagl finished in between Barcia and Musquin, with Martin just behind them and Paulin (after a crash) back in seventh. The United States was now in the driver’s seat heading into...
Race 2: MX2 and Open
Joining the MX2 riders for this moto were the Open class entries consisting of U.S. rider Cooper Webb and France’s newly crowned MXGP FIM World Champion Romain Febvre. With a rivalry that began the previous weekend in Glen Helen, Calif., at the USGP, Webb and Febvre had already been taunting each other throughout their practice sessions. The rivalry did not disappoint for the main, as Webb -- who also pulled the holeshot -- attempted to run away from the pack in the earlier stages. Febvre was not to be handed defeat, though, as he worked his way up from fifth to eventually reel in Webb and make the pass. Webb kept him honest and stayed within 3 seconds when the checkers flew. Back in third and fifth, respectively, were Musquin and Martin, with Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek between them. Things were still looking up for the U.S. team with a two-point advantage leading to...
Race 3: Open and MXGP
This time it was Barcia and Webb vs. the French duo of Paulin and Febvre, which would determine the outcome of this epic day of racing. Febvre eventually worked his way into the lead after an amazing race by New Zealand’s Ben Townley. Febvre wasn’t able to pull away, as things were shaking out between Barcia, who suffered a mediocre start, Webb and Paulin. Barcia’s charge up from mid-pack to eventually get around several of the top MXGP riders in the world was truly remarkable, and the same could be said for Webb -- although he couldn’t quite make it far enough for the USA to bring home the win. Finishing third and sixth, respectively, even if Webb had been able to get by Paulin for fifth, he would have ended up short of the goal. Barcia would have needed to run down not only Townley but Febvre as well for the U.S. team to gain enough points for the win.
As it was, the results were just about how most pundits and fans had predicted: A tight race between the U.S. team and home crowd favorite France for the title and that’s exactly what it was. Amazing races at a truly remarkable facility in front of a ridiculously impactful crowd of near record numbers. Job well done for both teams and it just goes to show that international motocross is alive and well.
1) France - 14 pts. (1-1-3-4-5 moto finishes)
2) USA - 16 (1-2-3-5-5)
3) Belgium - 56
4) Estonia - 66
5) Switzerland - 67