Every year, the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) lives up to its billing as the biggest and best dirt bike spectacle on the planet and this weekend (September 28-29) the famous teams’ racing event will be held on the infield of the famous Assen TT circuit in The Netherlands.
The MXoN, 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.
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 completely fresh trio of Kiwis racing at this weekend’s event in the Netherlands to those individuals who represented New Zealand when the MXoN was staged in the United States last year.
All three riders from last season were ruled out for 2019 either because of injury or for personal reasons.
That means the young men who have stepped forward this year – Taupo’s Wyatt Chase (Honda), Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (Yamaha) and Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh (Husqvarna) – will each be making their respective MXoN debuts at this season’s 73rd annual edition of the MXoN.
New Plymouth’s former motocross world champion Shayne King shares managerial duties for Team New Zealand with experienced former national-level racer Darren Henderson.
King was the 1996 500cc motocross world champion and a rider for New Zealand at the MXoN many times in the past. He said the race track at Assen would be “brutal” and Kiwi riders should be under no illusions about how tough it will be.
“Every year it’s the toughest motocross event in the world, but the circuit at Assen will be particularly challenging. It’s very deep sand, like nothing New Zealand riders will have encountered before,” said King, a rider who raced for New Zealand at the MXoN on 12 occasions and twice finished on the podium.
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, hopefully to improve upon their 17th overall placing at the MXoN last September.
From rookie first-timers in 1984 to top-10 regulars just over 10 years later, Kiwi motocross riders have boxed well above their weight and often rated among some of the best in the world.
Team New Zealand has finished among the top 10 an incredible 14 times in 29 appearances at the event since they first attended in 1984.
New Zealand has finished third on the podium three separate times – in England in 1998, in Belgium in 2001 and in England again in 2006.
The Kiwis have also finished among the top-five on three other occasions – fifth in Austria in 1993, fourth in Belgium in 2003 and fourth in France in 2005.
But the past few years have been lean times for the Kiwis.
New Zealand has finished among the top 10 just three times since 2006 – they were eighth in England in 2008, eighth in the United States in 2010 and eighth in France in 2015.
With generous support for this year’s campaign coming from the sport’s governing body here, Motorcycling New Zealand, and from building companies Penny Homes and Best Build Construction, along with massive fundraising undertaken by the Taupo Motorcycle Club with their Battle of the Clubs motocross event in June, the Kiwi contingent will arrive in The Netherlands in a confident mood.
Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) motocross commissioner Ray Broad said this was a huge event and extremely important that New Zealand would again be taking part.
“We are pleased to have three of our talented young riders representing New Zealand this year,” he said.
“Dylan, Wyatt and Max have a great opportunity and, under the guidance of Darren and Shayne, I am sure they will give it their best and none of them underestimate the task ahead.
“I would like to thank all the MNZ members for their support of the team and the sponsors that have generously assisted the team.”
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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