FUNCHAL (PORTUGAL) – The Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations making its comeback to Italy after the event was last held in the country in 1986 will turn the October 4 weekend into a special date for for those three riders who represented Italy at Maggiora, them being Michele Rinaldi, Corrado Maddii and Massimo Contini.
Motocross has changed dramatically in these 23 years separating Maggiora’s event from the 63rd Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations happening in less than two months at Franciacorta, on the Daniel Bonara race track. Though the feelings of a rider representing his country at the Motocross of Nations have not changed and continue making this competition the most spectacular race one can watch, combining the team spirit with the stiff competition of Motocross.
The opinion of the 1986 Team Italy trio made of Rinaldi (250cc), Maddii (500cc) and Contini (125cc) –finishing third on the podium behind USA and Great Britain- helps understand all the drama which is behind every Motocross of Nations.
Was it a honour for you to have raced the MXoN? Why?
RINALDI: I felt honoured and proud to race an event where I was representing my country, the event was very much important for me and I was hoping to be called up by the Federation to join the team. I realized it was one of those races where I had to perform well not for myself but for the others, in this case I had to do it for Italy!
MADDII: It has always been an honour. Ours is an individual sport so when you are capable of racing in a team “for real”, you know, that is fantastic. Being a rider and representing my country is a honour and a privilege.
CONTINI: Sure that was a honour, you know Motocross is an individual sport but racing for your country at the Motocross of Nations adds that extra bit which makes it unique. You feel a real team spirit or at least that was what I felt. It was also an occasion to race against the fastest riders in the world such as the Americans.
Rinaldi rode in the 250cc class
What do you remember of the 1986 MXoN at Maggiora?
RINALDI: Of course I remember the whole of it, the Nations in Italy was one of the most important races in the history of the event. Back then the track at Maggiora was one of the most beautiful and spectacular tracks we had in Italy, also for the spectators, they had a great view of the track. The event was very competitive, Italy got a good result while the USA got an extraordinary win and destroyed the opposition. It was a good race for the public for sure, it was good for Team USA and Team Italy as well. What a great event it was.
MADDII: The crowd. There were so many people, maybe the venue was not the biggest on earth but really it was so packed, it was impossible to move around. We could not even see the grandstands or any other area, everything was just covered with people.
CONTINI: The Americans, Bailey, O’Mara and Johnson did impress me. I was looking at O’Mara especially, we were racing in the same class (125cc) and I noticed I was not so far from him in the qualifying, our lap times were not so different on the Saturday. Though the race was another story, it was tough. I also remember the venue was packed, I had never seen that many people in a Motocross race and I remember their support, in my second heat the fans were supporting my recovery and that was fantastic.
Which was the Nation to beat in 1986?
RINALDI: America was the nation to beat, they had the best riders, the strongest team, their point of view on Motocross was more technical and different from ours, the idea of beating them was actually a taboo for us – and I think also for the other Europeans. Making a team of three good riders in America was a lot easier than doing it in Italy, where the riders were almost at my level, and that was not the level of O’Mara, Bailey and Johnson.
MADDII: At the MXoN I remember the Americans being the guys to beat, their riding style was so different, so particular, at that time it was even more impressive. It was news. I remember Johnny O’Mara onboard the 125 he was just a rocket, he was too fast. I was there to race, but I enjoyed watching them ride.
CONTINI: America was one but not the only one. Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, many Nations were strong, not only America. Though the Americans were the news, their riding style was different, they were coming from far away, I think they had something special which made us think “We cannot beat them”.
Contini raced the 1986 MXoN in the 125cc class
Were you happy with the result you got?
RINALDI: That was a great result, we made it to third on the podium, we did not win moto’s I know but being at Maggiora, on our home soil, the value of the result was twice as much.
MADDII: In those years a podium was a top result. The Federation was happy, our goal was the podium of the MXoN and we made it. It was a good race for us, one of the best results for Italy in the MXoN.
CONTINI: A podium is always a podium, and it is a good result. It was not possible to do better, I think we all did our best and we did the job. With so many strong Nations taking part in the event the competition was stiff, it was extremely difficult to mount on the podium and this adds value to our result.
How was the team spirit in 1986? Did you team up alright with the other riders?
RINALDI: It was always good. When we gathered to race the Nations the spirit was always good. At that time it was me, Maddii and Contini but I think it was going to be good even with other riders. Everyone was determined to race well for the country.
MADDII: I never had any issues with the other riders, even though we were racing in the same class and fighting. Sure when we were on the bike we fought tooth and nail, but once we were off the bike there was a good relationship. This is Motocross. This was the only occasion for a rider, who normally races individually even though he is part of a racing team, to feel an actual team spirit. Normally in the races a rider’s intention is finishing ahead of everyone else, but in this race the team comes first.
CONTINI: I think the team spirit helped to get the podium, and also the opportunity of representing your country gave us a further boost. I have always had good relations with Maddii and Rinaldi, I mean we were not friends because we were rivals during the Championship season, but we could get along well with each other.
Maddii completed Team Italy’s line up being the 500cc rider (Copyright World Cross 1986)
Do you think Italy this year can win? If not, which position do you think Italy can get?
RINALDI: The result will depend on the track’s characteristics. For sure it is not a typical Italian track with many elevation changes and hard pack. In this type of race the Italians will have no particular advantages but we have three very strong riders. I think they can get a good result but this will depend also on how the riders will face the event, because it is not sure that everyone comes to the event with the same mentality.
MADDII: I am Italian, and as every Italian I hope for our national team to take the win in Franciacorta. Honestly I believe Italy can surely take a podium finish but America is still the Nation to beat. Looking back at 2007 and 2008, America absolutely dominated, they were impressive.
CONTINI: Well winning is always difficult but it is always possible as well. The team can surely make it to the podium and has some chances of victory, we just have to wait and see what the others will do.