Max Anstie took a stunning double race win in the MXGP class to help Britain to a podium finish for the first time in 20 years at the Motocros of Nations at Matterley Basin.
As France ran away with the win for the fourth year in a row, Team GB battled with Holland for runner-up spot. And it was Anstie that was the star, wining the firs moto with ease then coming back from a crash while leading moto two to take the win, hounded over the line by Jeffrey Herlings.
Anstie said: “It was unbelievable. I felt this last part of the season, every week we’ve been pushing and I always had it in the back of my head I could get on the box. It was awesome.
“The first race was something special and the crowd were so loud. I was going round thinking I had to stay on!
“In race two I got out of the gate well, led and crashed. I got on the with the race and rode as hard as I could. Tis week has been the most stressful week of my life but we made the best of it. We kept solid and it’s amazing feeling to be on the podium.”
He was assisted by Dean Wilson, also on a 450 in the MX Open class, who took seventh and eighth. He,said: “To be on the podium is amazing and my team mates did a great job. In first moto I had goggles issues on the second corner. My goggles were gone. I got a black eye, the track threw a few puches at me!
“Race two the goggles fogged up as it was so cold and I couldn’t see. I’m so happy for Max – that’s an amazing achievement.”
Tommy Searle was out on the 250 and in the first moto the bike stopped, believed to be broken clutch. Second time out he had a bad start but pulled through to 15th. He said: “Mixed day for me. I was actually riding pretty well but a couple of lap in the bike was gone. In the second race I knew what I had to do – get a solid result and bring the bike home. I knew I couldn’t have a problem, and had to avoid doing anything stupid.
“It was difficult with vision. It’s the same for everyone and most riders lost their goggles.”
Nobody had an answer for France who dominated right from the first moto thanks to Romain Febvre, Gautier Paulin and Christophe Charlier – who now is a pro enduro rider. Even though none managed to win a moto, Febvre took a second and third, Paulin a third and sixth and Charlier a sixth.
Paulin said: “It was crazy out there. I was so happy when I saw Christophe riding so well on the 250. At the Enduro GP last weekend he was very tired at the end. The atmosphere was crazy – the best we’ve ever had. Four wins in a row! Every one is different but this is very special.”
Charlier, who took gold in the ISDE and now the MX of Nations for his country, said: “I haven’t raced motocross for a year now so to do the race like that was fantastic. The team did a great job!”
Febvre, on the wining team for third time, said: “I had two good starts. In first moto Jeffrey crashed and I got rid of my goggles. I couldn’t see anything and I finished second.
“In moto two I stopped to change my goggles as I couldn’t carry on without.
“Everyone had some doubt about Christophe but he did it for us.”
Second was Holland but it was disappointment for Herlings who wanted to win both of his motos – but was no match for Anstie.
Herlings said: “We did really well last year with second. I did a good job. I want to go 1-1 but I went 1-2. I had so much mud on my helmet. I tried to get Max, but there was one dry line and it was hard to pass.
“I hit neutral and went over the bars and was lucky to escape with that in the first moto.”
Team USA finished ninth in one of the worst ever performances, hampered by Cole Seely whose Honda had rear suspension failure in both motos. Team HRC’s Tim Gajser also retired from race two with a dead Honda.
Team Ireland had some decent rides and finished 15th. Graeme Irwin was their best with 21st and 22nd places, with Martin Barr 24th and 25th and Stuart Edmonds 28th and 33rd.