A cruel last lap DNF by Gautier Paulin robbed France of a MX of Nations podium place at Assen, handing third to team GB’s Nathan Watson, Shaun Simpson and Adam Sterry – the third podium place in a row for the squad.
King of Holland Willem-Alexander showed up at Assen to witness his home nation take its first ever Motocross of Nations win since the event began in 1947 thanks to stunning rides by Jeffrey Herlings, Glenn Coldenhoff and Calvin Vlaanderen.
Coldenhoff, the star who won both motos, said: “It’s incredible. It’s been an amazing season and to do this here is amazing! Calvin and Jeffrey did a great job and I went 1-1 again like last year which is amazing!
“Doing it here in front of our king is something special. Every single lap I heard the crowd and it’s something we will never forget.”
Herlings, whose dad Peter once helped Holland to a podium spot in the 1980s, had bad starts and crashes, but still took a second and fourth places. It allowed his team-mate Coldenhoff to shine again as he did last year in USA. Herlings said: “It was a tough one. A big gamble in the mud. Twice I missed the start and I crashed a couple of times in the last moto. But we finally won something I’ve never won in my life.”
And HRC man Vlaanderen was a strong third man on the team, with two tenth place finishes. He said: said: “The pressure was on us for this weekend but we controlled kit well. My team mates rode awesome and I rode pretty good. Really stoked we won. We’re going to party tonight.”
Belgium took second and veteran teamster Kevin Strijbos said: “We gave it our best shot. For me, I crashed on the first lap but I’m happy we’re on the podium.”
And for team GB, an elated Shaun Simpson was joined by Sterry and Watson and said: “It’s my first time on the podium and for these guys next to me, it’s their first time on the team and they did a great job.”
For Team Ireland, after slogging to victory in the B Final on Sunday morning, they had it all to do again and took 18th place, beating New Zealand and South Africa. Martin Barr had a 27th place while Stuart Edmonds was 28th and 35th and Jason Meara 29th and 31st.
The first moto saw holeshot expert Jorge Prado take the early lead, hounded by Gajser who got by as the Spaniard began to tire. Jeremy Seewer eventually caught and passed Prado but then slipped back after a last lap mistake.
All eyes were on Herlings as he gated 15th then made his way through the field towards the front, until he made a mistake and lost six seconds. He charged back again and caught Gajser entering the last lap. But backmarkers got in the way and ruined his run at the Honda man. It meant he finished second, with his team-mate Calvin Vlaanderen tenth to give Holland the lead.
Watson was running in the top ten until his bike gave up with a blown clutch, so he had a DNF. That left Adam Sterry as the sole Brit, and he had a tough race and finished 24th. Irishman Jason Meara was 29th.
For Team USA, Justin Cooper crashed in the waves on the opening lap and wiped out team-mate Jason Anderson. Cooper’s clutch was damaged but he circulated for 25th place while Anderson was quickly back on and took 17th.
Race two saw Harri Kullas holeshot but MXoN Master Glenn Coldenhoff was soon through and began to pull away. Kullas lost second to Briton Simpson, but none of them were quick enough to hold back hard-charging Pauls Jonass. The Latvian got into second and started to reel in Coldenhoff but the Dutchman managed his lead and won by five seconds.
Zach Osborne took fifth for Team USA in front of France’s Jordi Tixier, but it was another shocker for Cooper who had a terrible first lap and finished 29th.
Adam Sterry had a battle with lots of rivals as he took 12th place, hoisting Team GB to ninth overall after the first two motos.
It was disaster for Dylan Walsh who crashed hard onto the tarmac and didn’t finish. And France’s bid for yet a sixth consecutive win was set back when Maxime Renaux went out on the last lap with a bike failure. He was credited with 30th. Belgium’s bid for glory was also hampered when Kevin Strijbos went down but he got back on and only took 17th. Fellow countryman Jago Geerts took a fine seventh on his 250 after being 30th in moto one where his team-mate Jeremy Van Horebeek was sixth. He had been in the top four but his bike began to slow and he backed it off. “I broke the engine,” he said. “I have to go out on my spare bike for the final race.”
Race three saw Herlings start on the favoured right side of the gate but get a lacklustre start then fall on the opening lap, remounting 14th. Gajser led from Van Horebeek, Jonass, Coldenhoff, Ivo Montiocelli and Jeremy Seewer while Watson was seventh and Simpson eighth as Strijbos fell.
Watson fought hard to stay in the top ten but was no match for Herlings and Prado. He finished ninth when Paulin went out on the last lap. Simpson struggled to hold off the chasing pack including Jason Anderson, and in the closing stages went off the track onto the tarmac. He took an eventual 10th when
At the front Gajser fell and remounted third, allowing Ven Horebeek into the lead with Coldenhoff on his tail as Herlings began to carve his way through the field towards the front. Coldenhoff wasted no time getting into the lead, and by lap five he send the crowd into a frenzy as he began to edge away while Herlings made mistakes and went down, riding as hard as he could in a bid for glory. He passed rider after rider, and eventually took fourth place.
Gajser wasn’t for giving up and reeled Coldenhoff back in, with both men trying hard to win to make it perfect 1-1 days. But the Dutchman rode wisely and kept Gajser at bay to the end and take the team to victory.