The United States team was sitting at the top of the standings heading into the third and final race of the day after strong finishes in Sunday’s first two races, with New Zealand in second and Italy a close third.
With teams allowed to drop their one worst result, just five of the six results counting, the calculators came out as team managers did the mathematics.
A couple of top-10 results in the final MX1-Open race would be enough for the Americans to clinch the Chamberlain Trophy for what would be at that time a record 17th time (Team USA has now eclipsed that and won it 22 times it total).
New Zealand’s Josh Coppins (Honda, MX1) started well, but a crash on the third lap of the final race, while dicing for the lead with Italian David Philappaerts (KTM, MX1), followed by another crash shortly after, saw him drop to 14th position. Coppins had to work hard to regain lost ground, but it was in vain because the leading pack had broken away. He fought back to eighth in the final standings.
New Zealand’s Open class rider, Cody Cooper (Honda), rode strongly in this final race, amazing the 60,000 crowd as he led many of the experienced world championship GP riders to the line as he finished in 13th.
New Zealand’s MX2 class rider, Taupo’s Ben Townley (Kawasaki) had finished fifth and third in his two races earlier in the day and this final race outcome meant that Cooper’s earlier 17th place was the result to be discarded, giving the Kiwis a 3-5-6-8-13 score-card, a five-race total of 35 points.
Italy’s hopes were dashed when Cristian Beggi finished 35th in the final race, meaning his earlier 16th placing had to count. In the end, Italy finished fourth, just two points shy of the Kiwis.
Following a disappointing ride from Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki MX2) in race two, the pressure was on Belgium’s retiring motocross legend Stefan Everts and third team-mate Steve Ramon in the day’s final race to rise back from sixth in the standings.
True to form, Everts had a phenomenal ride, thrilling the crowd as he shuffled places with American James “Bubba” Stewart, and he finished the day unbeaten in his final big international.
United States riders Stewart (Kawasaki, MX1) and Ivan Tedesco (Suzuki, Open) finished 2-9 in the third and final race. Tedescos’ 9th was discarded, giving Team USA 2-2-2-3-6 and the 2006 Motocross of Nations title.
This result in 2006 was New Zealand’s third podium finish, following earlier third placings at Foxhills, Britain, in 1998 (Darryll King, Shayne King, Josh Coppins) and third at Namur, Belgium, in 2001 (Daryl Hurley, Josh Coppins, Shayne King).
LEADING final standings in the 2006 Motocross of Nations:
United States (Stewart, Villopoto, Tedesco) 15 points.
Belgium (Everts, Strijbos, Ramon) 22.
New Zealand (Coppins, Townley, Cooper) 35.
Italy (Philippaerts, Cairoli, Beggi) 37.
France (S. Pourcel, C. Pourcel, Demaria) 48.
Meanwhile, please enjoy these video clip moments from that from that 2006 MXoN event 13 years ago …
Watch out for Everts on Yamaha No.7 and the Kiwis too (Josh Coppins on Honda No.10, Ben Townley on Kawasaki No.11 and Cody Cooper on Honda No.12).
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here