The 2023 Motocross of Nations in France
CAPTION: New Zealand colours will again fly at the Motocross of Nations, this year’s edition set for Ernee, in north-western France, this coming weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
A talented three-man Kiwi motocross squad is revved up to race in France this coming weekend, determined to again challenge, and hopefully beat, the best riders in the world.
Every year, the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) lives up to its billing as the ultimate dirt bike spectacle and, on the weekend of October 7-8, the famous teams’ racing event will be held at the circuit at Ernee, in north-western France. There are again more than 30 nations entered this year.
The MXoN, also commonly referred to as “The Olympic Games of Motocross”, is a one-weekend affair that brings together the word’s elite like no other motocross event.
The racers put aside the past season’s bitter rivalries from domestic or world championship competitions and unite instead along different battle lines, with three-rider teams formed up to fly the flags of their respective homelands.
And it will be a different trio of Kiwis racing at this year’s event in France to those individuals who flew the flag when New Zealand sent a team to the MXoN in the United States last year, where they managed to finish 21st overall out of 34 nations on that occasion.
The Kiwis will be determined to improve upon that at this season’s 76th annual edition of the MXoN in France.
Oparau’s James Scott will be New Zealand’s MX2 (250cc) class rider this year and it will be his MXoN debut, the young man joined by two riders who do have plenty of previous MXoN racing experience, Papamoa’s Cody Cooper (MXGP class) and West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood (Open class).
In addition to previously representing New Zealand at the MXoN, Cooper and Harwood are both former national champions in the MX1, MX2 and 125cc classes.
The MXoN did not proceed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and New Zealand did not send a team to the MXoN in Italy in 2021 because of safety concerns and continuing travel difficulties associated with the pandemic.
The New Zealand squad will again this year be co-managed by former motocross world champion racer Shayne King, from New Plymouth, and successful Taupo businessman Bevan Weal.
King was the 1996 500cc motocross world champion and a sensational rider for New Zealand at MXoN events in the past. He said the racing in France would be difficult and the Kiwis will be under no illusions about that.
“Every year it’s the toughest motocross event in the world,” said King, a man who raced for New Zealand at the MXoN on 12 occasions and who was twice instrumental in putting Team New Zealand on the podium (helping the Kiwis to third overall in England in 1998 and then third again in Belgium in 2001).
“From a little island at the bottom of the world, we know it’s a huge deal to be able to step up to this level of competition, but we know too that, when we pull on the silver fern shirt, we become bullet-proof and 10-foot tall.
“Our first task will be to get through the qualification phase on day one of racing. If we can make the A final, then anything else is a bonus.”
The Kiwis know it won’t be easy facing the world’s elite on such a massive stage, but each of them is determined to put on another good showing.
With generous support for this year’s campaign coming from the sport’s governing body here, Motorcycling New Zealand, along with massive fundraising undertaken by the Taupo Motorcycle Club with their Battle of the Clubs motocross event in July, the Kiwi contingent will arrive in France in a quietly confident mood.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com