The FIM Motocross of Nations, the annual contest for national teams from all over the world, had attracted riders from 33 countries to Lommel in north-eastern Belgium and fans from even more countries flocked to the circuit to witness three enthralling races which decided 19 of the 20 teams which will contest the main event; the final nation to qualify will be decided during the "B" final tomorrow morning.
Although the on-track battles of teams from six continents are the central point of the weekend at the FIM Motocross of Nations, the friendly rivalry of the fans is a further highlight as they bring their national flags and banners to cheer on their national favourites whilst also enjoying a wealth of off-track entertainment with local culinary delights as well as fan articles and accessories from the numerous trade stands and sponsor hospitality units.
Kawasaki inevitably play a major role in the racing and eight of the 19 teams already confirmed to contest tomorrow's three races to decide the destiny of the Peter Chamberlain Trophy were led by Kawasaki riders.
Gautier Paulin of the Kawasaki Racing Team led France to fifth place in the Nations classification with a storming ride to fourth place in the prestige MX1 class; indeed three Kawasakis finished in the top ten with Marc de Reuver seventh for the Netherlands on the ICE1 Kawasaki and Tommy Searle tenth aboard the Team Floride Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit KX450F despite an unfortunate first lap incident which forced the Englishman to chase back through the field.
In the MX2 category Blake Baggett recorded he best result of the day for the USA team with a fighting ride up the leaderboard to third on the Pro Circuit Kawasaki. Xavier Boog was sadly eliminated from the Open class race when his bike was damaged in a crash, but will return tomorrow with the French team.
Gautier Paulin: “My start was pretty good and I was maybe third going into the first corner but I grabbed the brakes too early and was about tenth leaving the turn. I found some good lines to come back to fourth place with good lap times. I knew where I could pass Bobryshev on the last lap, but tomorrow we all know that the track will be different.”
Blake Baggett: “We came here ten days ago and that was good as we had time to set-up the bike and to get used to European tracks. It’s my second time in Europe but I discovered a new challenge here in Lommel as we don’t have tracks like this in the USA! We rode here last Friday, and during the first lap of practice I couldn’t believe how conditions had changed already; it took me a few laps to get used to it, and it had changed again for the race so once more I needed to learn it. Today was Ok for me with a third position but you need to be focused all the time as the sand is sometimes hard, sometimes soft. But I’m confident, it’s a team race and we’ll be strong.”