The 69th Monster Energy Motocross of Nations will live long in the memory for the duel between Team France and Team USA - won by the French ensuring their second grasp of the Chamberlain Cup for the second year in a row - and for the emotion and intensity of an 80,000 (weekend figure) crowd at the Ernee that created amazing scenes in north west France.
Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube's Romain Febvre was the standout protagonist to end a phenomenal 2015 season. The MXGP World Champion defeated brandmate Cooper Webb in the first outing riding in the MX Open category and then sent the crowd crazy in the third moto of the day comfortably leading Ben Townley across the line and posting a perfect 1-1 scorecard. Romain was the first of six YZ250F/YZ450F athletes on the rostrum from a total of nine athletes from three countries. His results were the bedrock of a close duel with the Americans (JGR Yamaha's Justin Barcia winning the MXGP class with a first moto success and taking third in the next race) and assisted the French (Gautier Paulin and Marvin Musquin also in the squad) to the top step of the podium.
The Americans pushed the Gallic trio to the limit thanks to Barcia's excellent holeshot to open the day's programme. He then engaged in a thrilling battle with Marvin Musquin and claimed the chequered flag thanks to the Frenchman's mistake halfway through the moto. Webb, riding a Yamalube Star Racing YZ450F for the second time in a week (and after his impressive debut at Glen Helen for the final Grand Prix of the year) was first around the opening turn in the second moto and resumed his Californian battle with Febvre. The pair circulated close together and through the myriad of backmarkers but Febvre was not to be denied.
Webb couldn't nail the same start in the decisive third and final moto - Barcia was also deep in the pack - and the pair had to thread through the Ernee curves and hills and across a track that was rutty, bumpy and technical. The 2015 AMA 250SX West Coast Champ reached sixth spot, which was Team USA's lowest score - the 'joker' classification they could drop - while Barcia was again excellent and passed a host of rivals to find his way to third. The third member of the troupe, AMA 250MX National Champion Jeremy Martin, rode consistently to a pair of fifth positions in what was his second appearance at the traditional end of season spectacle.
Also on the box was Febvre's teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek. 'JVH' was Team Belgium's best performer on his YZ450FM and jumped and scrubbed his way to a 4-7 to classify third overall in the MX Open class behind Febvre and Webb. The 2014 MXGP Championship runner-up and owner of two Grand Prix podiums now has a 100% appearance record in the top three for his country who have not missed the rostrum for eight years in a row. Van Horebeek was joined by Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube's Julien Lieber. The YZ250F pilot has also sampled Nations champagne for his country and was third in 2014 in Latvia. Lieber managed a best ranking of twelfth in the first race - that saw the MX2 riders battling the larger 450s - despite an injured hip. A bent brake disc in the second race caused a DNF and was the Belgian team's 'throwaway'.
Standing Construct's Valentin Guillod made his YZ450F competitive debut - the basis of the motorcycle he will race in a maiden term in MXGP next year - and assisted the Swiss to fifth overall with a 9-14.
Podiums, victories, red plates, world titles for riders and manufacturers, Women's MX crowns, 125 Junior World Championship, European success; 2015 has been a barnstormer of a season for the Boys (and girls) in Blue and work on 2016 will start with tests in the coming weeks and some winter supercross appearances until MXGP forms up again in Qatar next year.