France successfully defended its title in the Motocross of Nations this weekend in Buchanan, Michigan, turning in consistent performances without posting a victory.
The U.S. team, led by Eli Tomac, of Cortez, had a rough ride at the international championship and finished sixth. Tomac delivered the best performance for the Americans with a fourth place in the 450/250 motocross event, and a seventh place in his 450 Open moto.
Teammate Justin Barcia fell at the start of his Open/250 moto and could muster just a 13th-place finish. Aaron Plessinger fell in each outing, scoring 16th- and 18th-place finishes.
In the first moto, Tomac and Plessinger fell back in the first lap, but Tomac pushed through the pack to get into the Top 5 late in the race and into fourth place after Britain’s Tommy Searle had mechanical failure and failed to finish. Plessinger made a pit stop for new goggles and finished 18th. The Netherlands’ Jeffrey Herlings won the race after getting in front of the crashes at the first turn and was followed by France’s Gautier Paulin, Spain’s Jorge Prado and Tomac. After the first moto, the Americans were in fifth place.
In the second moto, Barcia and Plessinger dropped back early, but Barcia climbed back to finish ninth. Plessinger again dumped his goggles, without stopping for a new pair and finished 16th. The Netherlands’ Glenn Coldenhoff won and was followed by Australia’s Hunter Lawrence and Spain’s Jorge Prado. After the second moto, the U.S. team remained in fifth, with one race to go.
In the third moto, Tomac and Barcia both had slow starts and struggled to catch up, racing side by side in ninth and 10th. Tomac eventually finished seventh, and Barcia dropped behind Searle, Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek, and Estonia’s Harri Kullas to finish 13th. The Netherlands’ Coldenhoff and Herlings finished first and second and were followed by France’s Paulin and Italy’s Antonio Cairoli and Alessandro Lupino.
After the three races, the U.S. team dropped to a final, sixth-place finish.
The top two riders from the Netherlands dominated the Motocross of Nations, but the team finished tragically in third place. Although Coldenhoff won the second and third motos and Herlings won the first, the third Dutch rider, Calvin Vlaanderen, went out with an eye injury in the first moto and withdrew from the competition with a 36th-place finish.
France won with consistent finishes, including two podium finishes by Paulin, for a total of 35 points. Italy finished a close and surprising second, with 37 points. The Netherlands was third with 41 points, Australia and Great Britain were fourth and fifth with 48 points, and the United States was sixth with 49 points.