Only the top motocross riders will make it to world championship level, and just a small number of them will win a Grand Prix. An elite few have been crowned champion, but only one has managed three GP victories on a single day. And it comes as no surprise that that man is 10-times motocross World Champion Stefan Everts.
That impressive feat, even by the Belgian’s standards, was achieved at the Ernée circuit in France for the 2003 FIM Motocross World Championship finale, with Everts claiming victory in the 125cc, MXGP and 650cc classes.
Prior to that day, Everts had already established himself as the most successful motocross riders of all time, having taken seven world titles and 69 GP victories, more than anyone who came before him.
Arriving on the world stage at the age of 17 in 1989, Stefan was already a hot topic due to his father and four-time world champion Harry Everts’ success. Just two years after making his debut, Everts was already a 125cc title-winner, becoming the then youngest ever world champion.
After moving up to the 250cc class more championship success followed, with the 1995, 1996, and 1997 titles all going to Everts, as well as helping Team Belgium to three Motocross of Nations victories in 1995 (Sverepec, Slovakia), 1997 (Nismes, Belgium) and 1998 (Foxhills, United Kingdom).
After two years riding through injury on uncompetitive bikes, Everts moved to Yamaha in 2001 for a shot at the 500cc title. Seven GP wins that year on the Yamaha YZ426F saw him become the first and only rider to claim a world title with each of the four Japanese manufacturers.
That success continued in 2002, as Everts claimed back-to-back 500cc Motocross World Championship titles, adding four further GP victories to his name.
Everts triples up at Ernée
It was another trophy-filled season in 2003 and heading to the final round at Ernée, Everts had already claimed his seventh world title in the MXGP class with the vastly updated YZ450FM after a dominant campaign.
Before the French event, Everts opted to ride in the 125cc, MXGP and 650cc classes, following a comment made in the press conference at the round prior. Having already won double GPs in 125cc and MXGP seven times that year, this would be the Belgian’s first attempt at the triple.
True to his form, Everts took a dominant 125cc GP win, following that up with a start-to-finish victory in the MXGP race to seal the double, but it was the 650cc race that provided his biggest challenge.
Having not ridden the bike until Saturday’s free practice and with the increased fatigue from riding in the MXGP and 125cc races, this was a tough task for Everts, but he was soon in a three-way battle with Javier Garcia Vico and compatriot Joel Smets for the lead. Smets dropped out of contention after a crash, leaving Everts and Vico in a head-to-head battle.
While leading, Everts fell at low speed, dropping behind Vico, but was able to pick it up in second. At one stage it looked like Everts was going to lose out at the final hurdle, but he charged back to catch and repass the Spaniard for the lead. He held on to take victory, confirming the first-and-only triple motocross Grand Prix win in world championship history.
Everts went on to claim three more world titles consecutively with Yamaha, taking 14 of the 15 GP victories in his final championship-winning season in 2006. He would also win two Motocross of Nations events in 2003 (Zolder, Belgium) and 2004 (Lierop, the Netherlands) riding a Yamaha, and his 101 GP victories still stands today as the most ever achieved in the FIM Motocross World Championship.