Since its inception back in 1947, the FIM Motocross of Nations has provided thousands of people with special memories they’ll speak over again and again until the day they die. While many storylines have been created at this epic event over the years, some of the best have been made on Italian soil, such as the 1986 Motocross of Nations which took place right here at Maggiora Park. It was 30 years ago, but it was the start of something special, as the event was a result of a young and ambitious Giuseppe Luongo embarking on his mission to grow, develop and revolutionize our fantastic sport of motocross.
The 1986 Motocross of Nations was Mr. Giuseppe Luongo’s first ever attempt at organizing an international event, and right off the bat, he did a phenomenal job. The event was groundbreaking in many ways, from television and newspaper coverage, through to the massive crowd, which was easily the biggest of its era. While the organization and buzz created was revolutionary, but what really made the event unforgettable was the show America’s Dream Team, David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara and Ricky Johnson put on for the fans with their blistering fast speed and modernized style of racing and riding. Team USA waxed every nation that day, all three riders were untouchable, even O’Mara who blitzed past the best 500cc riders in the world on his Honda CR125. It left the world speechless and it is often described as the most memorable event in the history of motocross.
Earlier this afternoon, the celebration of 30 years since that memorable day and the initiation of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations presented by Fiat Professional took place inside the Media Center here at Maggiora Park where Youthstream President, Mr. Giuseppe Luongo was joined on stage by FIM Europe President, Dr. Wolfgang Srb, FIM/CMS Director, Mr. Tony Skillington, Organisers at Maggiora, Mr. Stefano Avandero and Mr. Paolo Schneider and of course, none other than the actual USA Dream Team of ’86, David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara and Ricky Johnson. Following the introduction speeches and special moments with the American legends, the top MXoN teams took to the stage, one team at a time, for an exclusive Press Conference.
Giuseppe Luongo opened the Press Conference with an heartwarming trip down memory lane where he spoke of how proud he is to see how far the FIM Motocross World Championship and the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations has come. He also thanked the Dream Team personally for their contribution to that legendary weekend back in ’86, before talking about what to expect from the 70th edition of the FIM Motocross of Nations here in Maggiora this weekend, “with 30 years of experience on our shoulders and with Stefan and Paolo, who have done an amazing job and have invested a lot in the development of this venue, I am sure we will have a big crowd out here, the racing will be amazing, and this event will be a great success.” He said.
Stefano Avandero and Paolo Schneider followed on by expressing their excitement for this weekend, and by thanking Youthstream supporting their dream of restoring the sensational venue here, Maggiora Park. FIM Europe’s Dr. Wolfgang Srb and FIM’s Tony Skillington also touched on 1986 and how proud they are to be a part of the growth of MXGP and the Motocross of Nations, before the microphone was handed over to the stars of the USA Dream Team.
On 1986… “It was so impressive and spectacular from an organizational stand point to look at the track, the hills, they were impressive, the way the track is decorated the way the system works.” Bailey said, “it was emotional for me because it was the best time of my life and then to come and see this track, it was the most impressive track I had ever seen, and it still is impressive and I am happy to be back.”
“Is there a track that compares to this? Not really, and that’s why it’s so special.” O’Mara said. “When we came over in ’86, we came to race, but the track was amazing, the crowd was huge and crazy and to race for the Italian fans, it was a show and a great experience,” Johnson said, “It’s great to be a part of the history, especially in Maggiora, and to see what Paolo and Stefano have done, it’s not the same track, it’s new and improved, just like the GP’s. Everything is much better, the presentation, everything, it’s just better.”
As the defending champions, Team France were first on stage with Romain Febvre #1, Benoit Paturel #2, Gautier Paulin #3 and their Team Manager Pascal Finot, where they seemed confident for the weekend and hope to make it a three-peat. Team USA, as last years runner-up were next up with Cooper Webb #4, Alex Martin #5, Jason Anderson #6 and Team Manager Roger De Coster. “I’ve walked around the track and it is really well prepared, it looks impressive.” De Coster said, “we’ve got a good team and I think we stand a chance.” Webb, commented, “I learned a lot last year. We came so close and I think that has put fuel on the fire and we’re ready to go racing.” “This track is absolutely beautiful!” Martin said, “I’ve been watching GoPro footage of Cairoli and watching DVD’s and it’s nothing like coming here in person and seeing it in person.” Anderson agreed, “I’ve been playing MXGP2 the videogame, and that’s been a lot of fun but nothing compares to seeing it for real.”
Team Belgium, as the most successful team entered with 56 medals in their tally, were led on stage by Kevin Strijbos #7, Jeremy Van Horebeek #8 and Brent Van Doninck #9 with Team Manager Joel Smets. The first and most obvious question for the Belgians was why the decision was made to put Van Doninck on a 450cc in the Open class, and keep Van Horebeek in MX2, “I know Yamaha have been working very hard to prepare a rocket ship for Jeremy, and I would also rather see Jeremy 200% motivated on a bike that is not his, but is really excited to ride, rather than have him 80% motivated on a bike that is not his.” Smets said.
The most impressive result of last year was Team Estonia’s fourth place finish, and this weekend they will have the exact same team, Prit Ratsep #10, Tanel Leok #11, Harri Kullas #12 managed by Lauri Roosiorg, they were next up followed by Team Switzerland’s Valentin Guillod #13, Jeremy Seewer #14, Arnaud Tonus #15 and Team Manager Diego Clement, where they made it clear there is no pressure, they just want to ride and have a blast with the hope that a good day will get better with a podium finish. Another team making light of the fact they have one of the strongest line-ups this weekend was The Netherlands with the Team Manager Marcel Hartman saying that his team of Glenn Coldenhoff #16, Brian Bogers #17 and Jeffrey Herlings #18 are only hoping for a modest top five.
Team Australia with Todd Waters #19, Mitchell Evans #20, Dean Ferris #21 and Manager Gary Benn,
Team New Zealand with Cody Cooper #22, Josiah Natzke #23, Hamish Harwood #24 and Manager Bevan Weal, and Team Germany with Max Nagl #25, Henry Jacobi #26, Dennis Ullrich #27 and Manager Wolfgang Thomas, rounded out the top nine teams that were presented.
Last but not least, Team Italy raised the roof when the eight-time FIM Motocross World Champion Antonio Cairoli #40, Samuele Bernardini #41, Michele Cervelin #42 and Manager Thomas Traversini were welcomed to the stage. As it is Antonio Cairoli’s birthday today, the entire media center sang him happy birthday. It was incredible.
While the atmosphere has been amazing all day, it escalated beyond belief at 18:00 when all thirty-eight teams were presented to the public one by one on the start-line. Each team was bought out and introduced on the back of a Fiat Professional FULLBACK, which the fans loved and weren’t shy at all when it came to cheering and making some noise for their favorite teams.
There is already an insane vibe out here in Maggiora, which is certain to intensify from dusk tomorrow. The ballot will take place at 09:00 central European time, followed by the LIVE Studio Show hosted by Paul Malin and Jeff Emig with special guests Jeffrey Herlings, Gautier Paulin and Ricky Johnson. Watch it on our Facebook page ‘MXGP’ or on www.mxgp-tv.com.
Saturday: Free Practice MXGP 10:00; Free practice MX2 11:00; Free Practice Open 12:00; Qualifying Heat MXGP 13:30; Qualifying Heat MX2 14:30; Qualifying Heat Open 15:30; C-Final 17:00; MXGP Awards 18:00.
Sunday: Warm-up B-Final 8:40; Warm-up MXoN Group 1 9:10; Warm-up MXoN Group 2 9:40; B-Final 11:00; MXoN Race 1 (MXGP+MX2) 13:10; MXoN Race 2 (MX2+Open) 14:40; MXoN Race 3 (Open+MXGP) 16:08.