Analysis: Alterations

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The 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship calendar has been revealed, yet again. COVID-19 has forced Infront Moto Racing to unveil another amended version of that schedule and, truthfully, this is not the end. The fact that there are three TBA events at the end of the calendar should confirm that. What is the current state of play in MXGP?

July is off the table completely now, which means that the first weekend in August is the date that everyone has their sights set on. The Grand Prix of Belgium at Lommel would typically occupy that date and signalises the beginning of the end of the term, but instead it will effectively be round one. Crazy! Russia will kick the season off on that date, and some would like to see that one either move to later on in the year or disappear completely. The fact that it has held strong through the last couple of revisions indicates that it is not going anywhere though.

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Ray Archer

This could all change though, and it is known that alternatives have been assessed behind the scenes. David Luongo has admitted that double headers have been looked at and, although no venues have been officially mentioned, both Lommel and Uddevalla are rumoured to be possibilities. There isn’t a free weekend near either of those events though, so room would have to be made in order for that to become a possibility. Double headers were the talk of the town at this point last week – one week on and they are already an afterthought. Things are changing so quickly.

Two things came to light in an email to team managers last week – one of those is straightforward and the other is a minefield. It is highly likely that the MXGP and MX2 classes will run a single-day programme for the rest of the year and therefore include a single timed session on Sunday morning that encompasses both practice and qualifying. Think of how the Grand Prix of Americas was run in 2016, as that is the most recent example of this. It does work and, hey, most guys would argue that they spend too much time on track in the current format anyway.

From a selfish point of view, there could be good things that come of this. A lot of MXGP and MX2 guys will still be at the track on Saturday, one would presume anyway, so this could open the door for some different content ideas that could expose the personalities of the Grand Prix riders a little more – a factor that needs desperate attention. The other side of that coin would be that the EMX guys could benefit from more attention, with both media coverage and hits on MXGP-TV. It would truly not be surprising if a lot of teams and riders demand this format in the future.

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Ray Archer

The much larger change at play here is that the Motocross of Nations could count for Grand Prix points for the first time in history, meaning that there would be a lot happening at Ernee in September. The traditional race between countries will still be in action, but now there will be more incentive for the riders to race hard. Those who are not picked to race for their nation would be thrown into the mix under the title of a wildcard, so wouldn’t miss out on points. Those guys could end up stealing points from their own country, in a strange twist.

This fixes a lot of the issues that would come with running the MXoN in the middle of the season, but there are questions that need to be addressed here. How will gate pick work? Would the 450F and 250F guys be scored separately now? Would the Open guys, who typically have an easier class, benefit when it comes to Grand Prix points compared to the MXGP riders? The three-race format would have to be altered, it seems, and maybe even the idea of having three classes. The mind boggles when thinking about everything going on here.

There is actually another interesting point to consider. There is typically some back and forth between the federations and teams on who should pay for what at the MXoN, as there is no clear answer. The sponsor-logo drama has also been a by-product of that. The debate would become more of a talking point now, as it is still an inter-country competition yet the teams need their riders there for Grand Prix points. How does that play out? One would think it is just going to operate as a Grand Prix, with that in mind, but this is uncharted territory.

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Ray Archer

Although it is a tough pill to swallow that the Motocross of Nations will not be the race that everyone is in love with this time around, this is undoubtedly the best option. It at least ensures that riders will be pushing hard and have a reason to be there. Team USA is an exception to that rule, of course, as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series is set to run until the first weekend of October. There is a fairly high chance there will be an outdoor race on the same weekend as the MXoN, so the American riders will obviously not travel to France. It sucks, but what can you do?

2020 is quickly becoming about salvaging something for people in all walks of life, and that is exactly what the powers that be are attempting to do with the aforementioned changes. Will it work? It has to, because the various constraints that have come with COVID-19 really leave us no other choice. Take comfort in the fact that normality will be restored in 2021 though.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer

Rumours: 2020 MXGP

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There has been a lot of communication between those in the Grand Prix paddock this week, as the latest 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship was released and sparked intrigue. That won’t be the final schedule – more changes are obviously going to be made – and now word on what could be coming in the future has come into light. There’s no official word on this, yet the source is rather good and it is worth exploring.

Rumours suggest that the MXGP and MX2 riders will only ride on Sunday, once the Grand Prix season picks back up. The EMX and WMX riders would then complete their programme on the Saturday. This would obviously reduce the toll on riders, seeing as so many events will be crammed into such a tight schedule, and give the teams a bit of time to regroup after each event as well. It’s certainly a logical decision and one that should be popular amongst the riders, if it comes to fruition.

Another rumour is that the 2020 Motocross of Nations would count for Grand Prix points, which is very intriguing. This idea is in its infancy and thus a lot of questions are unanswered at this stage. How would gate pick work? Would the traditional MXoN format stay in place? It sounds as though those who are participating in the full world championship but are not selected for their national team would be able to enter as wildcards. Hey, it would certainly made the MXoN very interesting!

These are just rumours, as mentioned at the top of this piece, and ideas could fall to the wayside as things continue to change. It is interesting to consider though – these are certainly logical points.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer

List Them: MXoN Victors

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GreenlandMX is known as one of the most specialised retailers for off-road motorbikes in Europe. Their online store offers an impressive catalogue of the highest quality brands in the industry, with the best pricing to match! The company has experience of more than 15 years in the internet e-commerce world and has now become the go-to company for European customers. Visit GreenlandMX.com to check out their impressive range of products!

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Another week and another game! Can you name every single guy who has won a race at the Motocross of Nations since 2004? There are riders from ten different nationalities to place in the table below. Simply click the play button and then a box to name the riders will appear. It is rather easy to figure out but get in touch via social media (motocrossvice on Twitter) if you have any questions. Remember to shout about your score as well!

Full Replay: 1998 MXoN

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GreenlandMX is known as one of the most specialised retailers for off-road motorbikes in Europe. Their online store offers an impressive catalogue of the highest quality brands in the industry, with the best pricing to match! The company has experience of more than 15 years in the internet e-commerce world and has now become the go-to company for European customers. Visit GreenlandMX.com to check out their impressive range of products!

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Now this will help perk your mood up! MXGP-TV just released the full replay from the 1998 Motocross of Nations, that being the famous mudder at Foxhill! There are many of you who will have memories from this historic event so sit back, relax and enjoy. More throwback videos from the fine folks at MXGP-TV are expected to be released in the coming days.

Video: MXGP-TV | Lead Image: Ray Archer

Motorcycling Australia: MXoN

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It is hard to believe that the 2020 Motocross of Nations is still six months away, yet some are already thinking about the event and how the current COVID-19 outbreak will impact Ernee. Motorcycling Australia (the governing body down under) confirmed this morning that they are already assessing the situation and whether or not they should commit to sending a team to France. A press released is below.

Press Release

With the current activity surrounding COVID-19 (commonly known as coronavirus) including governmental imposed restrictions on national and international travel and mass gatherings, Motorcycling Australia (MA) are having to reconsider its involvement in all domestic and international activity over the next few months.

While all options are currently being worked through, sadly several events and activities have already been cancelled.

In relation to international teams (ISDE, MXoN, WJMX, TDN and Speedway of Nations) MA is in constant communication with the FIM about the status of these events.

Due to the logistics involved in sending these teams to compete in Europe, the timelines required to activate the necessary travel, and the current uncertainty around international travel, MA have set deadlines of mid-April to confirm our Australian team’s participation in these international events.

Our current position is that we believe it is inevitable that we will have to cancel Australia’s participation in some these team events for 2020, however we will await further information from both the Australian government and the FIM.

Words: Press Release | Lead Image: Ray Archer

Full Replay: 1997 MXoN

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GreenlandMX is known as one of the most specialised retailers for off-road motorbikes in Europe. Their online store offers an impressive catalogue of the highest quality brands in the industry, with the best pricing to match! The company has experience of more than 15 years in the internet e-commerce world and has now become the go-to company for European customers. Visit GreenlandMX.com to check out their impressive range of products!

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MXGP are stepping into the time machine to keep fans entertained! A full replay from the 1997 Motocross of Nations at Nismes in Belgium can be viewed below. One would think that the 1998 edition of the event – the historic race at Foxhill in the United Kingdom – is going to follow soon enough, right? That would be a real hit. Anyway, there’s fifty minutes worth of content below. Enjoy!

Video: MXGP-TV | Lead Image: Ray Archer

Jason Thomas: Grinding

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Early December is an interesting time for riders. By now, everyone has been suffering through boot camp for over a month. The repetition seems to never end. On the positive side, though, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. There is less than a month until Anaheim 1, Christmas is only a couple of weeks away, and that lovely time called “tapering” is on the horizon. For now, though, it’s still time for the hard work. The endless laps, miles (kilometres if you are so inclined), and gym sessions completed now are what dictate success in the coming months. What does a typical day look like, you ask?

These training days mimic each other almost like clockwork. The only real variation is typically in lap duration or format of riding and even then it’s usually not a huge difference. Every morning starts with a gym session but not the iron pumping, meathead variety you might find at your local gym. The emphasis these days is more on stretching, core strength and pliability. Strength gains are definitely a goal, but not so much the typical “beach” muscles. Leg strength for gripping the bike and core strength for balance and maintaining proper ride position are much more important than “curls for the girls.”

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After the gym, a light breakfast is eaten before arriving to the track by 10am. Most of these programmes are run on a tight time schedule, so the track has been prepped and the motorcycles have been serviced. That all cuts down on wait time from arrival to beginning of ride time. With everything ready, it’s time for the most important part of the process: Riding.

Different times of the season dictate different riding itineraries. Early in the off-season, say October and November, the focus is on building a base of fitness. That means long days, long motos and high lap counts. Every programme is different but the bare minimum at that time of year involves a warm up, sprint laps, and two 20-lap motos. That can ramp up significantly, though. In 2004, Tim Ferry and I had worked up to three 30-lap motos by the end of November. That was the culmination of months of riding, cycling and running to build up our fitness base. Not only that, our bodies needed to be able to withstand that level of abuse every day. Our hands needed to callous, back muscles needed to slowly atone for all of that torture and, well, Monkey Butt is always a problem when riding that much.

By December, that focus shifts to intensity and speed. Riders have now spent months and months building up the fitness for a gruelling spring. With a base built, it’s time to sharpen the spear with sprint laps, heat-race replications and technique work to eek out tenths of a second per lap. There is an art form to riding above one’s comfort zone, even if for a lap. Those 90-lap days are torturous and necessary but if you aren’t fast enough, none of it matters.

That leads me to another point, actually. I often see so many pro privateer riders nowadays just hammering out long motos leading up to the supercross season. I totally understand why but I also question the strategy. The likelihood of them consistently making main events is often low. If that’s the reality, why worry about being able to do 20 minutes? The entire emphasis should be on improving speed for 6-8 minutes. Being able to get into those main events often determines a year’s success or failure. Sponsors want riders in the main events.

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KTM/Simon Cudby

Making the main event for privateers means everything. I would (and did) do 8-lap race simulations until the sun goes down. The margin of difference for those on the qualifying bubble is often very small, making any extra speed advantage incredibly valuable. Fitness is great and much of this article speaks to how factory level riders reach their peak but if your goal is just to make the main event, become an expert at the shorter races that dictate that fate.

Okay, back to the topic at hand: The training day. After riding has been completed, riders will shower and regroup. It’s now usually 3pm by now and in late November, there is only a couple hours of daylight left. Trainers will be diligent to get their guys moving so they don’t run out of time for their bike ride or run. Road cycling is the preferred cardio training for many, simply because the impact on joints is less and it’s easy to maintain a targeted heart rate.

On a heavy riding day, the cycling would be somewhere between 1-2 hours. On a day where riding is shorter or an off-day, that cycling duration could be up closer to 3 hours. In December when the intensity focus is ramped up, the cycling rides include interval sprints. The goal is to train your body to hit maximum heart rate, recover back to a manageable effort level and then immediately ramp back up to maximum effort. Hopefully, the body will be trained to handle huge spikes in heart rate and avoid “blowing up” in the middle of a battle.

Finally, the slow cruise back into the driveway has come and riders get to unclip from their bicycle pedals. The highest level riders might still have a massage that night to flush that lactic acid build and prepare to do it all over again the next day. Being able to put in brutally tough training days over and over is where the magic is made. What seems like cruel and unusual torture in October becomes mundane by early December.

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KTM/Simon Cudby

Trainers are moulding rider bodies and psyche, hardening them in every sense. Ricky Carmichael often told me that Saturday (race day in America) was his easiest day of the week. His training regimen was so brutal that race day was a walk in the park. That’s the goal for every trainer. Create a rider so finely tuned that his race day feels like a day off. It makes sense, right? On a normal training day, that twenty-minute main event would be just one of many torture tests that day.

In a nutshell, the off-season is a suffer-fest. Every day looks like the day before. Bodies ache, enthusiasm wanes and, personally, I whined incessantly. I knew it was necessary but I also voiced my displeasure to anyone with ears. I can also assure you, though, that as I sat on the starting line every year at Anaheim, I was very thankful for the work I had put in. There is no worse feeling than knowing you are not ready for the upcoming season. Now as we roll into a new week, the hard work will continue. There is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, yes, but the hard yards are not quite done. Anaheim is coming. Who will be ready?

Words: Jason Thomas | Lead Image: KTM/Simon Cudby

Discussion: Jorge Prado

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Jorge Prado was one of the greatest stars at the 2019 Motocross of Nations, as he made his long awaited debut aboard a 450 and went head-to-head with a lot of the Grand Prix regulars. The rain ruined that spectacle somewhat but the weekend still served as a great indication of where he is at after such little time on the big bike. How did Prado rate his first showing? That information is in this exclusive MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: A big one for you and a big one for Spain, but most importantly this was your first race on a 450 and I feel like it went well. Fast in practice. Showed good speed. Showed good speed in the motos today as well. Battled with [Jeffrey] Herlings for a bit. All good things. I reckon you have got to be happy.

Jorge Prado: Yeah, it was an okay weekend. We can take a lot of positive things, also where we can improve for next year. That is great. I didn’t ride so much with the 450 before this race. I didn’t even make so many starts. I was quite happy with both starts on Saturday in the first moto. In the second moto I messed it up too much. Completely last. I think the speed is good. It’s okay. We can improve on that too. Physically it’s okay. Just put a few things together and then we can make big steps.

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ConwayMX

That’s why we now have the winter to progress and hopefully next year I can come back strong. Racing… It was just good to come here. First moto I finished third after leading for more than half the moto. Afterwards I struggled a bit with the goggles. Something that I already improved in the second moto as I didn’t take them off. We can also take that for next year. I struggled with the goggles in the first moto and had to go back to sixth or seventh. Fought back to third – that was a cool moto. I even passed a couple of riders in the last corner too.

It was okay. I was happy. It was a bit of a pity with my mistakes: Silly mistakes and rookie mistakes with the goggles and stuff like that, but I was confident for the second moto. In the second moto I messed up the start. It was just trying to fight and fighting with so many riders. The weather was so bad. It was hard. I’m not really mad – I think I can be quite happy. Not one hundred percent, because we know where we need to improve. We take it like it is and I stay positive for the next training sessions. 

Was there one big thing that shocked or surprised you about the 450 this weekend? Maybe something that you did not expect?

No, nothing really. I maybe expected myself to be a bit slower speed-wise. Riders are fast. You need to be there right at the start. You have got to be there. That’s something that I’m strong with – the starts – so I think that’s a good advantage for next year. Even if we made a mistake in the second one, we need to improve. Next year we’ll be alright. Need to get stronger. That’s the thing.

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I was thinking that a mud race on a 450 must be a lot more fun for you, because of having more power. It makes it a bit easier. Then at the same time you have got to muscle the bike around. Was it more fun to have a mud race on a 450 or harder work? Like you said, you need to get a bit stronger.

I didn’t spend too much time training sand the last two years as I moved to Italy. We only rode hard pack, because that was my weak point. Only four days on the bike in the sand before this race and it’s not that much. We made them good, but in these conditions it’s difficult to find them. For not riding so much sand lately, it was alright. For sure we can improve on that. I didn’t get that much tired, but the track was tough. It was tough just to ride it. I didn’t ride so much sand, like my said, so my style developed into a hard-pack style a little bit. I need to change that again a little bit for the sand races, but it’s something that comes quick. It was fine. 

When you were battling with Herlings in that second race, was it something quite normal for you? Did it feel like any other battle? Did you know it was Herlings and think, “How about this? I’m battling with the sand guy!”

Yeah, I think I was in front of him for a couple of laps as he crashed. He was behind me and then I was trying to keep the position. He passed me and then I was thinking, “Maybe I can follow?” I stayed more or less… I kept the gap a couple of laps but then this guy the last laps he puts the throttle down, the hammer down and he just goes. It’s good to know.  

It’s good to know that I can improve, but that we already knew that before the start. Having Jeffrey there for those laps… I could see how he arrived a little bit, even though the track was already hard. I had to focus on myself and not so much on the others. It was nice to see Jeffrey in front, in the back and around. He’s the fastest guy. So, good [laughs].

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I guess like every other factory rider you are going to jump into testing now. After the testing you have done recently and this race, is there one big thing that you feel like you need to work on? Engine, power output or suspension. Anything like that?

I think we can work a bit on everything. Firstly, I will take some holidays. It was a long season and it’s been a while. I will go to Spain now tomorrow and spend some time there. Relax and get the batteries charged to start testing and training hard. I will train harder. Next year will be tough. I want to get ready and be the best I can for the first round. 

Are you going to do the same programme as every other year through the winter and be in Italy a lot of the time? Are you going to change things up a bit?

I really don’t know. Maybe we can still improve a couple of things? We speak with the team. We make the programme and it will happen. We already know where we need to improve, so that’s good to make the programme.

450s next year. This is now the new chapter for you. I feel like you are excited for the new challenge, and I’m excited to see you take on a new challenge.  

Yeah. I’m also very excited to take the new challenge and finally with the sixty-one. I like my number more when I ride. Even though this number was quite close. I’m very excited for next year. I think I needed this change to improve even more. It will be very challenging. I hope I do good. We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. It’s hard. There are many world champions in the big class and many people with a lot of experience. Very fast guys. I have a great team and good people around me, so I think I have everything I need to get to the top.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Insight: Nathan Watson

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When Nathan Watson left the Grand Prix paddock at the end of 2015 to pursue a career in the enduro world, the chances of him ever representing Team Great Britain at the Motocross of Nations seemed slim. Watson finally got that opportunity at the Assen TT Circuit over the weekend though and made the most of it, as he helped his nation climb onto the overall podium for the third year in succession. All of that is discussed at length in this exclusive MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: It’s nuts that you are here. When you went to enduro at the end of 2015, I’m guessing you kind of felt like the dream of racing this event had died a little bit. Not only are you here, but you are on the podium. I guess that’s more than you could even ask for.

Nathan Watson: Yeah. It’s unbelievable. It was something that was always in the back of my mind that I never got the opportunity to do this race. After these last few years – especially now that I have started doing these extreme races and stuff that are the polar opposite to motocross – I never expected to be here. When I got the call, I worked hard.

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Unfortunately I had a bike problem in the first one, but the boys did good and I had a solid race in the last race. To be on the podium, it’s just like a dream come true. First time with all these press conferences, first time here with all the fans and everything. It’s such an amazing experience. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Let’s go back to when the team was selected and everything. You were not training for motocross. You were training with tree roots and stuff like that. When you got the call, was there a bit of you that was a bit reluctant? It’s a lot of pressure, and this isn’t your full-time gig. Was there a bit of you that was like, “I don’t know if I want to?”

No. I’ve been doing the beach races every winter and doing a lot of sand riding. Once I heard it was at Assen, if they asked me then I was there no matter what. I would have ridden anything. We have got some great sand riders in the UK, but unfortunately there were a few injuries and stuff like that. I was thinking, “Maybe? Maybe the dream could come true?”

When I finally got the phone call, I had already done a little bit of preparation. I was like, “Yes. Bring it on.” For the conditions like this weekend, it was really nerve-racking. It was a lottery. Everyone had to have some consistent results. There was a lot of pressure going into my two races.

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Was the adjustment back to motocross or sand riding easier than you thought? I guess you never lost it. You have always been a sand master. Was it actually much of an adjustment? 

To be honest, I think my riding has improved a lot since I’ve gone to enduro. I’ve always used motocross as training for enduro, so even though I’ve been on an enduro bike I’ve been doing a lot of motocross. I think I’ve definitely improved. I’d like to do more races because, when I go practicing and stuff with some fast people, I always have quite good speed.  

It’s sometimes frustrating that I can’t do more of these races, but these guys now are so fast. It’s so tough here. You have got to be here every weekend racing. It was the first time off a mesh start as well – I got good starts somehow. I don’t know if I fluked it or if I picked it up quick. Really happy with how I’ve gone this weekend.

I think we know why you got good starts. The fake Team GB manager, Marc de Reuver, was on you pretty hard this week. I heard he was texting you and everything, then there was obviously the practice day as well. How was it working with him? Did he scare you? 

Yeah. He definitely whipped me into gear on the starts. He saw that I was pretty bad at them at the start of the day and just gave me some basic tips. Obviously, I only had one day to pick it up. I had to really think about it and work hard. I’d like to thank him for that, because he definitely kicked my ass and got me into gear and got me out of the start. He helped me out with that, I think. 

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Has he actually spoken to you much this weekend? Has he been around? I feel like he’s basically British. I don’t know why, but he is all over it this weekend.  

Yeah. I think this is his last race was [Adam] Sterry and with Roan [Van De Moosdijk] not on the Dutch team, I think he’s focused on Team GB. That is good for us. He’s helped us out, definitely. He walked the track with us and gave us some tips, because he is a bit of a sand legend. Just been helping out all weekend and giving me some little tips on everything really. He’s been a second team manager, I guess.

What about your bike? I heard two things. You have got a long swingarm on – that you would use for beach races – and you have got an Antonio Cairoli engine or something? Either of those true?

I’ve got a factory engine. It’s not the exact same as Cairoli’s spec. It’s a little bit different to suit me, but the long swingarm is true. I have the beach race swinging arm. I didn’t know if I was allowed to use it so I wasn’t actually training with it, but when they told me I could use it on Monday I chucked it straight back on and felt way better with it. It wasn’t a true sand race this weekend. There were not big bumps and dry sand. I’d like to come back and do a proper sand race.

Speaking of coming back, are you on a lifetime deal with enduro or are you ever coming back? Has there even been people this weekend who have popped by and been like, “I might have to remember your name in the future?”

No. I’ve not had interest, to be honest. I’ve signed for next year in enduro again but I’m happy with that. I’ve had a good career in enduro now and I’ve got a good system with my beach races and the WESS. That’s on the cards for next year. Definitely like to somehow do some more motocross races and fit some more of them into the calendar, but let’s see.

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Are the enduro team happy with you doing this? Were they a bit reluctant? You are not in a title hunt, but you are in a championship. You had a race last weekend and one next week. This is like the worst possible timing.

No, they have been really supportive. They know what a big event this is, and they gave me that opportunity. They couldn’t hold me back from this opportunity, because it is my first time. They have been really supportive. They have helped me out and given me the material I need and put me under this tent. It’s been an unbelievable experience being next to Jeffrey [Herlings] all weekend and getting changed with Jorge [Prado] and Jeffrey. I feel like I’ve been a factory motocross rider for the weekend. It’s been good.

There is one positive here. Team GB obviously finished third last year but they did not get to stand on the podium, which means you have got one over on Ben [Watson]. Who would have thought that when you were away in enduro?

Exactly. I’ve experienced the full Motocross of Nations podium and press conferences. In front of all them fans, it was unbelievable. Definitely got one up on Ben. I”m sure in the future he’s going to be back on that ‘Nations podium. I hope so, anyway.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Discussion: Adam Sterry

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Adam Sterry was heartbroken when Team Great Britain for the 2019 Motocross of Nations was first announced, as he missed out on a spot. Who would have thought at that point that he would be stood on the box at the Assen TT Circuit in a little over a month? Sterry eventually got the call up and delivered the goods on the day, as his strong second moto played a huge part in getting his nation into third overall. Sterry recounted his first MXoN experience in his MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: You came here with one goal: Finish on the podium as a team. You did that. It was not looking good after the first moto. I feel like as far as first motos go, as a team that was one of the worst. You pulled it off in the end. I guess you are stoked.

Adam Sterry: Yeah, sure. Like you said, I’m lost for words at the moment. What a way to finish my MX2 career. I got cleaned out by [Gautier] Paulin on the first lap of the first moto and then I made a big crash myself and it took ages to start my bike. Nathan [Watson] went out as well, so I knew that was two bad results. Looking at everybody else’s scores after the first moto, it wasn’t too bad but obviously not ideal.

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I thought we threw it away, but luckily me and Shaun [Simpson] did great results in the second race. Those two boys pulled it together for the third moto too. Big congrats to them. Before you ask any more technical questions, I’d just like to say thanks to the whole F&H team for the last two years. They went above and beyond for this race for me. Thanks to Mark [Chamberlain] for the opportunity. Thanks to Shaun and Nathan as well, because they did a great job today. Couldn’t do it without them.  

Were you guys stressed and freaking out after the first moto? There is a lot of pressure on you then because you basically cannot f**k up.

Yeah, exactly. I knew that we were going to have to throw away Nathan’s result, so that meant my twenty-third or whatever had to count. It meant that we only had to do good races from there on, and we did. I’ve never been so nervous watching that third race in my life. I was more nervous watching that race than before my own race, because we were second by a long way and then we dropped to third. Then France were coming. They were coming and they were coming. They overtook us.  

Then I was unbelievably gutted, because as you can imagine I finished fourth three times already this year. I thought, “Not again, surely.” Luckily, I feel like I had some luck for once. I was so happy when I saw Paulin pushing his bike down the side of the track. I was in the Sky Box. Everyone had me on the floor. They were dragging me. Jumping up and down and hitting me. Unbelievable. I started crying. Very emotional.

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I just figured it out. Paulin’s bike breaking was karma for him taking you out in the first moto. It got him in the end.

That’s exactly what I was thinking as well in the press conference. I don’t really believe in that stuff, but it is what it is. We’re on the podium. Definitely the best day of my career so far. 

I feel like your second moto was better than maybe people will realize. You finished twelfth but you weren’t there the whole time. You actually moved up to get there.

Yeah, exactly. I got put on the outside for the second moto. It’s not ideal against 450s. Jago [Geerts] said in the press conference that it being muddy brought the 450s and 250s closer together, but I completely disagree. I think it makes it worse. I felt there were some people overtaking me that I never heard of in my life and I was thinking, “They have got to be lapped, surely.” It was just because they had the 450 power they were pulling out of the corners and it made a big difference today. It was tough… Very tough. I like the mud. 2016 here, that was the most gutted I’ve ever been after a race. Today for sure made up for it.

Why did you go outside in the second moto? I don’t like that decision.

After the first moto we needed a really good result, so Shaun went on the inside to get a really good result and he did. Luckily, I ended up getting not a bad start from the outside. I pushed all the way. No mistakes and I ended up in a really good position too.

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How happy is the fake Team GB manager, Marc de Reuver? How happy is he and also how much of a hard time has he been giving you this weekend? 

After yesterday and the first moto, he wasn’t very happy. I can tell you that. Obviously, he likes Holland and he’s for Holland to win. Cheekily he was helping me and Team GB. He’s been with us all week. Me and Marc, we have worked together one and a half years now. I need to say thanks to him as well. He’s put an awful lot of effort in the last one and a half years. He did a great job. He really helped Nathan with his starts this week. Nathan had not started from the mesh after so long and he really helped him.

We did so many starts on Wednesday. We aimed for the podium – that’s what we got. Thanks to him for the last one and a half years. I also want to say thanks to everyone that helps. All my sponsors. Rich [Mike Jones]. He’s about to take a flight, but he’s been a big part of my career ever since I was six years old. Massive thanks to him. Marc’s been my trainer for the last one and a half years, but Rich has always been there in the background supporting me. It’s been an emotional ride. This is definitely the best day of my career so far.

Was this Motocross of Nations thing everything that you wanted it to be and expected it to be? Were the fans as crazy as you thought they would be? Was the excitement there? Was it just what you pictured in your mind?

Definitely. This is even more crazy than I expected. I knew there would be a lot of British people coming here, because it’s quite close to the UK. Everybody likes it when they can travel and it’s an excuse for a holiday. The support I’ve had all weekend has been unbelievable. It’s above and beyond what I expected. To finish it off on the podium, like Shaun said, after the race we were all like little babies. We were all literally hugging each other and crying.

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It just shows, because Shaun has also been at it a very long time and this is his first time getting on the podium. I didn’t know that. I only just found that out. He was emotional. For Nathan, last weekend he was in an enduro at Hawkstone going up hills and avoiding trees. That just shows what an incredible rider he is. I think today was a little bit more towards enduro. Big props to him. He did a fantastic job and showed what a great rider he is.

We cannot say too much, but things are looking more promising for a ride next year. In Sweden we were talking about maybe starting an AS811 team. It’s not going to come to that.

No. It’s not sorted yet, so you can never say never in motocross. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I can have some news about what’s happening. I’m just going to let my hair down now, get a double vodka and Coke and see where the night takes us.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX