The crowd was cold and wet, but they are at the Motocross des Nations— so they are warm and dry inside.
By Eric Johnson — Photos by Dennis Stapleton
Based in the sandy north of the Netherlands, Valkenswaard is best remembered as the site of the 1991 Motocross des Nations. One of the most dramatic events in American motocross history, it was at the gloomy Eurocircuit that day that Team USA – Jeff Stanton, Damon Bradshaw and Mike Kiedrowski – in a full-on cliffhanger – yet again won the Olympics of Motocross.
Furthermore, it was also at Valkenswaard in ’91 when Team USA actually last raced and won the Motocross des Nations in the Netherlands.
Now Team USA is, as well as 33 other nation states, back in Holland and at the 2019 Motocross des Nations If you drive along the border of northwest Belgium and southern Holland, you’ll come across the epicenter of European motocross. For it is here, smack in the middle of the Low Countries, that the notorious sand circuits of Lommel, Mol, Genk, Oss and Valkenswaard menacingly wait for the next group of world class racers to torture.
As of Saturday afternoon, September 28, 2019, there is now another sand circuit in Holland, this one whisked out over the asphalt stretches of a Cathedral. Welcome to the Tourist Trophy Circuit Assen and the 2019 Monster Energy Motocross des Nations. The eight Dutch venue to hold the event over the past 73 years, Assen, a 110,000-seat MotoGP circuit that opened for business in 1955, has actually been holding world class motorcycle races going back to 1925. However, and unlike previous Dutch MXDN circuits Wassenaar (where the premiere of the Motocross des Nations was held on July 27, 1947), Norg, Schijndel, Markelo, Saint Anthonis and Lierop, Assen is not a natural terrain motocross venue, and a flat 1,700-meter will meet the 34 Nations hoping to leave town with the Peter Chamberlain Trophy.
MXGP CLASS QUALIFYING MOTO TO SEEWER
With a hard rain spitting down and the starting gate clanking into went sand, Team Switzerland Jeremy Seewer kicked off the 2019 Motocross of Nations by going out and winning the opening MXGP qualification race over class contenders Tim Gajser of Slovenia and Jeremy Van Horebeek of Belgium.
Jeremy Seewer and Jorge Prado of Spain enjoyed the best jump out of the hole to start the first race of the weekend, Prado leading the field out onto the Assen circuit. Seewer was second, followed closely by Dean Ferris of Australia and Gajser. Meanwhile, Team USA’s Jason Anderson was 18th on the opening lap, with Team France’s Gautier Paulin 17th and Dutchman Jeffrey Herlings 22nd. Anderson put the hammer down immediately and motored up into the top 10 rapidly. The New Mexican-born rider rode well to slot-in at sixth. Shortly thereafter, Prado hit the sand, Seewer and Gajser retaking control of the race.
Home nation superstar Jeffrey Herlings was in no man’s land to begin the race, but he picked up the pace immediately and managed to ride into fifth at the halfway mark of the 20-minute sprint. Herlings got to Anderson with two laps to go, the Dutchman leaping past the American. Now in fifth, Jeffrey kept pushing and found himself on the rear wheel of Red Bull KTM teammate Jorge Prado. Herlings was all over the track in an attempt to zap Prado, but ran out of time. Ultimately, Prado, in his 450 debut, took fourth. Jeremy Van Horebeek of Belgium was third in the end. Anderson wound up sixth in the end.
“I did win it,” Seewer said afterwards. “It isn’t an official MXGP race, but it was still amazing to go out there and win a Motocross of Nations moto. I got a good start from 16th position and I saw Prado making mistake and my riding was smooth. He made a mistake and I was able to get the pass and win, and now the pressure is off Team Switzerland.”
250 CLASS QUALIFYING MOTO
Pinging through the gears of his Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing YZ250 to snag the holeshot from the Americans team’s lowly 31st starting position, it was New Yorker Justin Cooper utterly dominating the 250 Moto at Assen. Calvin Vlaanderen of home nation Holland finished the moto in second, while Australia’s Kyle Webster filled out the podium.
“It’s good to get the monkey off my back with this qualifying race win and go into tomorrow strong,” said Cooper. “I felt like I did a good job. I didn’t expect to come out first from that outside gate position. That was good. I didn’t ride too good out there, though. This track is really tough and breaking down. We will make some changes to the bike and come out tomorrow.”
Jago Geerts of Belgium did his nation proud by nailing down fourth in the moto, while Alberto Forato of Italy and Thomas Kjer Olsen of Denmark ran fifth and sixth, respectively.
OPEN CLASS QUALIFYING MOTO
Pauls Jonass of Latvia won the Open qualification race at the 53rd track to ever host the MXoN, getting the better of Kevin Strijbos of Belgium and Glen Coldenhoff of Holland.
Strijbos led the Open class qualifier from the onset over Harri Kullas of Estonia and Glenn Coldenhoff of Holland. Jonass soon cut and pasted his way into the lead and Coldenhoff was up into third place, as Duffy found himself sideways in a few knee deep berms and shot back to fifth place.
After seven laps Jonass held a well-managed one -second lead over Strijbos, while Coldenhoff observed the world from third. And that’s the way it all played out at the end.
“You know it is always nice to race for your own country and get a win, and I think the first win for Latvia in this event,” offered Jonass ex-post-facto. “I got some wheelspin on the gate but felt good and passed Strijbos. The track is slippery on the top, but hard underneath. Let’s just hope we have good weather tomorrow.”
As far as the American motocross way of life goes, in the third and final race of the afternoon at Assen, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing pilot Zach Osborne placed eighth, and with the Team USA drop score (each team keeps its best two scores to determine Saturday’s results) factored into all the MXoN calculus, our guys will go to the starting gate as the third best team tomorrow – certainly better than the outfit’s hand-picked 31st starting position for today’s qualifying races.
2019 MXDN QUALIFYING RESULTS
(Top19 teams go straight to A-Main on Sunday)
1. Belgium – 5 pts
2. The Netherlands – 5 pts
3. United States – 7 pts
4. Australia – 9 pts
5. Italy – 14pts
6. Latvia – 14 pts
7. France – 15 pts
8. Great Britain – 15 pts
9. Denmark – 15 pts
10. Switzerland – 15 pts
11. Sweden – 17 pts
12. Spain – 22 pts
13. Estonia – 17 pts
14. Germany – 22 pts
15. Norway – 22 pts
16. Slovenia – 22 pts
17. New Zealand – 26 pts
18. Austria – 31 pts
19. South Africa