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"Training for
REAL Athletes"
                  Red Bull Moto X of Nations 2008
Dominic Chalk

Welcome back to all the readers its that time of year again….for the Red Bull Moto X of Nations 2008. Those of
you that have read previous reports will be familiar with the format, those of you that haven’t……where have you been!!!!! This
report is written from a fan's perspective at the world’s greatest motocross event, the Moto X of Nations, a team event consisting
of a countries best three riders in three separate categories, MX 1, MX 2 and the Open class. Scoring works thus, the higher you
finish the fewer points you get, the team with the lowest points score after the three main races wins – simple. It means that you
have to have a good team, not just one really good rider. The whole team need to consistently finish well; however, you are
allowed to drop your team’s worst moto so the scores are worked out from the best five finishes your team achieves.

This years MXoN was the 62nd to be staged and would pit this years best riders against each other. The likes of James Stewart,
undefeated outdoors this year against FIM World Champion David Philippaerts and Chad Reed, the World/AMA Supercross
champion and many many more. The USA were fielding a very strong team and were expected to gain their 19th Chamberlain
trophy but up against strong teams from France, Belgium and the UK it would not be a walk over. It was also billed as the next
chapter in Moto X, with Everts retiring in 2006 and Carmichael retiring last year there would no long be any multi title winning
champions in the event – who from the next generation would step up to take it on………  

The stage for this year’s event was Donnington Park in the UK, a fantastic venue whose road circuit hosts the likes of MotoGP
and World Superbikes. This year, for me, was to be a very special and different experience. My usual attendance is with my moto
x mates but this year I was attending with my other half (Heather), her sister (Lorna) and Sam, Lorna’s better half. The other
difference was that thanks to Sam, we were going to be the guests of the promoters Red Bull with use of their track side
hospitality and access to both after parties – bring it on!!!!!

We arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning and pitched up for the weekend, having eventually explained to the girls where to
stick the tent poles……in the tent obviously!!!! Having never been to a Moto X event with women, who were also camping virgins, I
was looking forward to the weekend with some trepidation – but to be honest they were great and really got into the whole
experience and surpassed our expectations.

After setting up camp we headed over to the race track. The sun was out, providing both great riding and spectating conditions.
Saturday hosts the qualifying for race day, deciding out of this year’s 35 teams who would progress to the main races on the
Sunday afternoon and who would go into the ‘B’ final on Sunday morning. The top 19 teams from qualification day go through of
right with the ‘B’ final winners making up the 20th team for the main event.
Qualification Races

So to the first of the three qualification races. These are run in class so MX 1,
MX 2 and Open race in class. The first riders out were MX 1 with James
Stewart lining up against the likes of Seb Pourcel, Chad Reed, on his new
Suzuki which he’ll race on next year and our own Billy Mackenzie. We found
our spot in the Red Bull hospitality suite, positioned at the huge finish line
table top and with a great view of most of the circuit. The free wine and Red
Bull were flowing and the hospitality was second to none, even some of Team
USA had got in to enjoy the delights whilst Stefan Everts, now team manager
for Red Bull KTM, was in the upstairs VIP section looking out for his riders and
his countrymen.

The gates dropped and the huge roar of the four stroke machines echoed
around the track, after some squabbling into the first corner it was Stewart
who emerged as the leader with Billy Mac close behind and De Dycker of
Belgium in third, Reed had a dreadful start and was last. Josh Coppins was
thereabouts and going well with Leok and Pourcel in 6th. After a few tense
laps the riders began to find their pace but at the end of lap 3 James made a
mistake at the front and went down. Thankfully for him he regained his
momentum and picked it up but now Mackenzie was right on his ass. Reed
had found his pace and after his lack lustre start was now scything through
the pack. Into lap 4 and there was a great battle for 3rd between Leok, De
Dycker and Pourcel, the FIM MX 1 World Champion, Philippaerts was in 6th.
De Dycker was on the move and passed Mackenzie for 2nd as the Brit rider
began slowly getting caught by the chasing pack. At the back, Reed was making his way through and had got up to 12th, in the
process setting some very fast laps. Towards the end of the moto Pourcel caught and passed De Dycker for 2nd but there was
no way he could make up the 10 seconds Stewart had extended his lead to. Philippaerts also passed Mackenzie who stalled his
bike and eventually had to settle for 7th. The result was as follows; Stewart first followed by Pourcel, De Dycker, Philippaerts,
Leok, Nagl and Mackenzie. Reed came back from dead last to grab 10th with Stewart setting the fastest lap of 1:57.617 on the
second lap of 12 completed.

Next out were the MX 2 boys with the likes of Villopoto, Rattray the South African who won the MX2 title and our very own Tommy
Searle, to name but a few. As the gate dropped there was the usual fight into the first corner – with France’s Anthony Boissiere
coming out on top ahead of Metcalfe of Australia, Villopoto and Rattray. This would be short lived however as young Villopoto
was just awesome and by lap two had taken the French ride for the lead whilst Searle, who was back in tenth was on a charge as
well. A few laps on and Searle had pushed himself up to 7th as the yellows came out for a crash on the far side step up. The
Mongolian rider, 102 Temuujin had a huge moment and looked in bad shape as they put him into the back of the ambulance on
a stretcher and with neck brace on, but more on him later. The remainder of the race was fairly processional, no one able to do
anything about Villopoto up front. Tommy Searle had a great ride and later in the moto battled hard and not only caught Van
Horebeek, the Dutch rider but after a good battle passed him for 5th. So the standings after the 11 lap race were, Villopoto,
Metcalfe, Boissiere, Rattray and Searle with again the USA taking the fastest lap of 1:59.859.  
James Stewart
Ryan Villopoto
So on to the last race of the day’s qualifiers which saw the
Open class boys battling it out. Team USA had Tim Ferry
taking the ride with Michael Byrne for Australia and Steve
Ramon for Belgium. Team GB handed a first time Nations ride
to the very talented Shaun Simpson who was keen to impress
in front of this kind of worldwide audience. The gate dropped
and they all hit the first corner with the New Zealand rider
Cody Cooper taking the spoils. He was followed by the
Canadian, Dusty Klatt with a gaggle of riders fighting over 3rd
including Aubin of France, the Italian Salvini and Simpson.
Ferry didn’t get away well and was back in around 10th or
12th. Into lap 2 and Cooper was flying up front with Klatt and
Salvini chasing him down. Ferry was chasing hard to make up
ground but lost it after the tabletop and crashed. Another
victim of the hot pace was the Czech rider Zerava who’s
Honda gave up. There was a great battle going on further
down the order with Osborne (Puerto Rico) and Ramon
(Belgium) starting to make a move. Simpson was 6th but with
the fast Osborne and Ramon he was soon relegated two
places as they pursued the leaders. Lap 5 saw the Canadian
Klatt stall from 4th and lose several places. The charging pair of Osborne and  Ramon were now homing in on Byrne and Salvini
whilst Simpson was doing great to maintain his 6th place with a flying Ferry closing him down. The girls loved the racing but
especially the Mongolian rider Gonad who, whilst not running high gave an awesome display over the tabletop every time, hitting it
hard and going seriously big. On the last lap Osborne and Byrne battled hard for 2nd place and with an audacious move on the
last corner Osborne stole it and whipped the finish line table top to the cheers of the crowd. It finished Cooper, Osborne, Byrne,
Salvini, Ramon, and Simpson. Ferry was 9th but set the fastest lap of 2:02.420 on his 6th lap.

So that was the end of the days racing. With two victories and a 9th place finish, Team USA lead the qualifiers standings ahead of
Australia, France and Belgium. Great Britain qualified 7th with Japan taking the final slot in 19th position. After consuming yet
more Red Bull we headed off to the paddock as the girls wanted to meet Team Mongolia who they had now adopted for the
weekend. We wandered around looking for them and eventually found their team at the far end in a small pit shared with the
German rider Nagl. There was no sign of the riders so Heather asked the mechanic where they were. Two minutes later the whole
team came out and appeared somewhat amused and embarrassed that they had their own fan club. Amongst the riders was the
young guy who was taken away in the ambulance. Other than looking annoying young, he had no injuries and just smiled and said
in his best English – “I crash”. It was such a pleasant change to have such humble guys appear and be happy to chat…..well, as
best you can when they don’t speak much English and we speak even less Mongolian, not the usual case where you cannot get
near the riders or only see them behind glass. Us Brits love an under dog and decided to adopt Team Mongolia as our own and
would support them through the ‘B’ Final and endeavour, through various means to get them sponsored – so if you reading this
Red Bull, Team Mongolia are the future force in Moto X so catch them early before Monster or Rockstar beat you to it……….     
Team Mongolia with their Official Fan Club
We then hit the Red Bull after party and continued where we
had left off with consuming yet more wine, beer or Red Bull cola
– which I must say I prefer more than other well known makes
as it seems less carbonated and therefore I don’t spend the
whole evening belching the Mongolian national anthem – a
talent, I’m sure you’d agree, but not one the girls really
appreciate……but I digress. We left the party early as by now
the early start and the days events had hit us hard. One good
reason, I have discovered, about taking girls to a Moto X event
is that the sleeping conditions are far better than norm; no
wafer thin, well used and rather smelly old sleeping bags here –
no, the girls had brought every duvet, pillow and blanket that we
possess and set up a bedroom reminiscent of the bridal suite at
the Savoy - nice one girls!!!! We hit the sack and I had what
can only be described as the best nights sleep in a tent ever,
so much so that we woke late and missed morning practice –
nice one girls!!!!
A Red Bull Party!
Race Day

The weather for race day was not as good as Saturday, over
cast with rain in the air. But a large crowd had attended and as
usual there was a great atmosphere building. We grabbed a
bacon roll on our way to the Red Bull hospitality and assumed
our usual position at the front, keen to cheer on our new
adopted team of Mongolia. The ‘B’ final was due to begin at
11am with the same format of the main motos, 30 minutes plus
2 laps, the winners then going on to make up the 20th team in
the final moto’s.

‘B’ Final

The ‘B’ finalists lined up at the gate just as the weather
worsened and it began to rain. The gate dropped and to
everyone’s surprise Brazil hit the front with their rider Balbi who
was being closely followed by Barr of Ireland. In third was
another Brazilian with Russia, Sweden and Slovenia behind
them. The other Irish rider Edmonds hit trouble and went down
which would make it hard for Ireland to have any chance of qualifying for the main. The racing was frantic and Barr and the
Russian were on the move chasing down Balbi for the lead. As the track got wetter the conditions became harder for the less
experienced teams and on lap 5 two of our Mongolian friends stalled and two other riders from Venezuela and Slovenia pulled
out with bike trouble. At lap 7 of the race the Russian was on a move and passed Barr and then passed Balbi for the lead. Barr
followed the Russian and passed Balbi and was pressing hard to get past for the lead. One lap on and the Mongolian rider
Khaliunbold hit the tabletop huge but in doing so gave himself no time to slow for the next left hander and flew off the end of the
track. However he gathered himself together, and with hoots and cheers from the crowd got back on the track. With two laps to
go Barr’s team mate Edmonds had recovered to 12th and was chasing down those in front of him. With the crowd willing Team
Ireland on, Barr made his move on the last lap and with a bit of bar banging got past the Russian and took the win. The Russian
finished second with Czech Republic taking third and the two Brazilians coming home 4th and 5th. This meant the Brazilians
qualified for the main leaving Ireland disappointed even with the moto win and Barr setting the fastest lap of the race at 2:10.672.

With that out of the way we had a bit of a wait for the three main races of the day so we hit the paddock to find and congratulate
Team Mongolia. The boys finished 31st, 33rd and 34th out of the 36 starters and came 13th overall. Considering it was the first
time the guys had been out of Mongolia and had lined up against the likes of Stewart and Villopoto the day before they were
awesome. They did themselves and their country proud and given some help Khaliunbold, Ganod and Temuujin could easily
achieve even more. We gathered at their pit and the team manager got the boys out for a photo shoot and autograph signing
session. They looked relieved it was over but happy that they’d performed well, and even though Khaliunbold seemed to have a
serious leg injury he was still smiling and happy to get involved – a lesson to all the other teams and riders out there, without us
you’d be nothing!!!! As my old granddad once said, ‘be kind to those on your way up as you never know who you might meet on
your way down….’   

We thanked them and let them get back to their jobs, such as cleaning their own kit!!!....and prepared ourselves for the
afternoon’s entertainment.
Race One – MX 1 & MX 2

The first race was due to start at 1.08pm and would be between the MX 1 and
MX 2 boys. In the mix were Stewart and Villopoto for Team USA, Billy Mac and
Tommy Searle for Team GB and others such as Reed, Pourcel, Rattray and
Philippaerts. The gate dropped and they were off into the first corner, Stewart
got a good start and as it panned out Philippaerts was leading closely followed
by Barragan of Spain, Stewart was in third with Searle in 6th. Villopoto had a
terrible start and was well down the order. Into lap 2 and Stewart had found his
speed and moved easily into second and was hassling Philippaerts for the
lead but as he did so Stewart nearly lost his front end. Villopoto began passing
people and moved up and took two riders over the finish line tabletop – an
awesome spectacle. By lap 4 Stewart made his move and got past Philippaerts
but behind him Tommy Searle was having an awesome ride, moving up and
taking Coppins. By lap 5 both Team GB riders were right up there with
Mackenzie in 5th and Searle in 8th. Pourcel was also making moves and got
past Barragan for 3rd whilst further back Reed was struggling in 15th with
Villopoto behind him. Pourcel continues to chase down 2nd place and closed
in on Philippaerts who refused to let Stewart get to far ahead. Pourcel made
his move and got past Philippaerts and sets his sights on Stewart – Stewart
however responded to the danger and put in his fastest lap of the race, a 2:
02. Battles are going on all down the order with numerous position changes
for 5th, 6th and 7th. Further back Villopoto begins to pressure Reed and by
lap 11 finally puts a move on him to get past. At the front Stewart is 11
seconds ahead and cruising whilst Searle is chasing down De Dycker and
Coppins in front to try and gain further positions and escape the clutches of
the now flying Villopoto behind. As they came over the line it was Stewart with an easy win followed 21 seconds behind by Pourcel
and Philippaerts in third. Mackenzie and Searle came in 6th and 9th with Villopoto in 10th. At this point Team USA lead with
France in second and Team GB in third. A great start for Team GB, could this be the year they get on the podium, we’d just have
to wait and see.  

Race Two – MX 2 & Open         

On to race two and the weather, having improved slightly towards the end of race one, began to deteriorate again. The race
began at 2:38pm with Villopoto taking to the line with Ferry, Searle and Simpson for company. The gate fell and into the first
corner there were a few victims. As the field sorted itself out it was Cooper with the lead followed by Villopoto and the Frenchman
Boissiere in 3rd. Ferry got another poor start and by the time they came over the stripe for the first time was 13th. The Brits were
in 10th and 28th, Simpson had gone down early. Villopoto didn’t waste any time and before the end of the first lap was past
Cooper and off, by the end of lap two he already had a 3 second lead!! Searle was flying and had made up two places as his
team mate also pushed hard. Sadly this wasn’t to last as Simpson went down again. By lap 5 Villopoto had checked out up front as
Boissiere and Cooper squabbled over 2nd position with the Frenchman winning out. Then, as things seemed to be settling into a
procession, the New Zealander Scott Columb landed on top of team Japan’s Kojima after the huge finish line tabletop. They both
crashed off the circuit taking two photographers with them and everybody held their breath as it looked pretty nasty. But showing
just how tough you have to be to participate in this sport, both riders got up, re-mounted and re-joined the race. Whilst all this was
going on Searle continued his charge, as did Ramon who was now up to 4th and chasing down Cooper for 3rd. Searle was on fire
and by lap 8 had caught and passed Metcalfe for 6th with Salvini next in line to lose a spot. At the front Villopoto was now racing
Rattray, the FIM MX2 Champion. Rattray gave him a good battle….just a shame he was already a lap down!!! With time running
out Seale made his move, with a bit of bar banging he got passed Salvini and made it stick, the crowd went berserk. Searle now
set his sights on the slowing Cooper who was being hassled by Ramon. Ramon took the spot, relegating Cooper to third but for
how long, Searle could smell blood and homed in on the New Zealander. Coming over the finish line for the final lap Searle set him
up for the pass. The crowd again went mad as he passed for third but Ramon was just too far ahead to gain anymore positions.
So a great ride for Searle who came in third behind Ramon and a rampant Villopoto taking the win. To back up the result Ferry
had got himself into 9th while Simpson did his best coming home 15th. AS the numbers were added up, Team USA led with Italy
and team GB in joint second with France just behind them.
James Stewart
Philippaerts chases Stewart
Race Three – MX 1 & Open

So to the final race and the sun finally came out. We had been
enjoying the Red Bull hospitality over the break, and watching
the usual shenanigans from the Belgium supporters doing their
famous track run, one guy even had an air cylinder strapped to
his back for the lorry horn in his hands – priceless. They
stopped right in front of us, saluted King Stefan who was above
us in the VIP area, and then dispersed back into the crowd. As
Stewart and the others lined up at the gates the sense of
anticipation grew. The gate dropped for the final time and the
riders attacked the first corner. As they emerged it was Stewart
ahead with Pourcel, Coppins and the Swiss rider Bill behind.
Pourcel was clearly out to impress and began hassling Stewart
at every opportunity and showing him his wheel. Team GB were
not so fortunate and didn’t have a great start, Simpson in 12th
and Mackenzie in 16th as they came over to complete the first
lap. Chad Reed had a better start and was having a good
battle with De Dycker, with positions changing several times. Up
front Pourcel was trying his best to pressure Stewart into a
mistake forcing James to ride fairly defensively at times. However, Stewart may have been up front but team mate Ferry was not
having a great time, back in 22nd and stuck behind the talented Balbi. As the laps clicked by Stewart settled into his rhythm and
stretched out a small advantage while further back Mackenzie was on a serious charge. Desperate to make up for his poor start,
by lap 5 he’d taken 6 spots and moved into 10th. At the half way mark Stewart had broken Pourcel and led by 10 seconds and
was in cruise mode, clearly hoping that it would be a clean sweep outdoors for him in 2008. Mackenzie on the other hand had no
intention of cruising, he had tagged onto Coppins and De Dycker in front and followed as lap by lap they caught and passed the
riders in front. Having caught and dealt with Reed and Barragan, Mackenzie now sets his sights on the two in ahead and within a
lap had passed them and was into 5th and chasing down the German Nagl. If he could finish in that position then Team GB were
definitely looking at a podium finish. Then, on lap 12 it all changed up front. Stewart lost it on the far side step up to a huge roar
from the crowd – everyone looked around, where was Pourcel and could he make up the gap. Stewart struggled to remount and
start the Kawasaki and by the time he rejoined the race he’d not only lost the lead but was nearly dead last. The crowd were
going mad; Pourcel was now leading with the Estonian Leok in 2nd with Nagl and Mackenzie now up to 4th. As the two laps to go
board came out, Pourcel completed the final humiliation and lapped Stewart who was clearly not happy having realised he’d lost
his unbeaten record for ’08. Then another disaster, Mackenzie went down at the same point Stewart had a lap before and the
cheers turned to moans. Billy did his best to get going but was back in 12th. With such a short time left he was only able to make
up one place and came home in 11th with team mate Simpson riding a solid race in 13th. So, as the flagged dropped, it was
Pourcel who took the win with Leok, Nagl, De Dycker and Ferry. Stewart eventually came in 23rd, not only losing the predacious
final race but also his unbeaten record.


The team overall was close, but being able to scrub Stewart’s last score, Team USA won their 19th Chamberlain Trophy with 26
points, closely followed by France on 31 and Belgium on 41. Most annoyingly for us, Team GB were piped into 4th by just one
point with 42 – that Mackenzie fall proved very costly. The rider standings had Pourcel winning the MX1 class with a 2-1 result
while Villopoto took the MX2 title, one point ahead of Tommy Searle who had a great weekend. The open class went to Ferry, due
mainly to his consistent finishing.

So, in conclusion, another great Moto X of Nations; the event just gets better and better every year. There were some great rides
and it was great to see the gulf between European riders and the US has reduced a great deal. Individual ride of the weekend
had to go to Julien Bill of Switzerland who finished an incredible 3rd overall in the MX1 standings – if only he had the team mates
to back him up Switzerland would have improved on their 9th place team result.

Many thanks to Red Bull, not only for putting on the greatest moto X event in the world but also for providing us with some
awesome hospitality and giving us the best view of the action. I would like to thank Sam for sourcing the tickets and providing
some great photos for the article and the girls for dealing well with life outdoors – next time we’ll try for two nights!!!!! So until next
time, stay safe, train hard and support Team Mongolia!!!!         
Until Next Year!
Great Report Dominic!  A big THANK YOU goes out to Dom and his MX companions for this fantastic report and photos.  
Dominic is a long-time subscriber to the Moto X Fitness newsletter, and he has contributed articles previously for MXF.  And,
once again, he came through for us with this great Motocross of Nations article.

2008 Motocross of Nations
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