The all-Yamaha trio of Tony Cairoli, David Philippaerts and Davide Guarneri entered the 63rd Motocross of Nations at Franciacorta in Italy hopeful of capturing the prestigious Chamberlain trophy for the third time in the history of the famous competition but their hopes were dashed after several freak incidents meant that they classified 6th in the final table.
In front of a staggering and noisy gathering of 90,000 people (weekend figure) at the road racing facility partially converted into a jumpy, technical and testing off-road track, Cairoli and Philippaerts grabbed the headlines with some sensational performances and speed. The weekend started on the right foot. After Philippaerts and Guarneri had time on Saturday to battle through the crowds to the public enclosure and unveil the 2010 YZ450F for the first time to a European audience the 2008 MX1-GP World Champion won his MX Open category heat on the YZ450FM while Cairoli aced the MX1 class with the YZ450F, giving the home Nation, competing against a record 35 other entered countries, pole position.
Tony ahead of Reed
The premise of the Nations involves the three best riders from a particular country filling the classes MX1, MX2 and MX Open. The best 20 nations qualify for the three main event motos on Sunday: MX1+MX2, MX2+MX Open and MX1+MX Open, meaning 40 riders in the gate for each 30 minute and 2 lap sprint. Teams end the day with six results and are allowed to remove their worst classification. With the scoring reversed (so 1st picks up 1 point and 40th 40 points) the country with the lowest total are declared champions.
Moto1 was a fantastic spectacle. 2009 MX1-GP world champion Cairoli took his Yamaha Red Bull De Carli machine head-to-head with AMA Motocross number one Chad Reed. The Australian barely left the rear wheel of the Sicilian for the full duration of 30 minute and 2 laps. It was a tense affair with Cairoli willed along by the swarms of adulating spectators; it was the 24 year old' second career triumph at the Nations. Guarneri managed 16th on the YZ250FM in the same race.
DP on the charge
Moto2 saw Philippaerts in action for the first time. The Yamaha Monster Energy MX Team representative recovered from a shaky start to provide the meeting with a phenomenal finale as he closed a nine second gap in six laps to USA's Ivan Tedesco and snared 2nd place only two corners from the flag. In the same sprint however Guarneri was struck on the shoulder landing from a large leap by Australia's Michael Byrne and his DNF meant that Italy has used their 'Joker'.
Moto3 was over as soon as it started as a collision on the start-straight saw Cairoli embroiled in a high speed pile-up and he retired immediately with a painful neck that proved to be nothing serious. Crashes for Reed, Gautier Paulin and Clement Desalle meant that Team USA were able to deflect the attentions of Italy, France and Belgium, defend their title and win the Nations for the 20th time. Philippaerts was again a proactive force and won the MX Open class thanks to a push through to 3rd by the finish.
Other than Team Italy Yamaha also counted on Josh Coppins (MX1, New Zealand) and Tanel Leok (MX Open, Estonia) and the total participation of 21 YZ machines from the 36 nations. Coppins had a solid day as the clear leader and most experienced rider for his country. Two 6th places (4th in MX1) on his final outing on the Monster Energy YZ450FM helped New Zealand to 11th overall. Leok had a crash in either outing as the MX Open rider for Estonia and was not 100% fit after a fall last week. The 'Express' was 5th in the class and his country was 8th by the end of the day.
The Motocross of Nations saw the final participation for Cairoli, Coppins, Guarneri and Leok as part of the Yamaha family on the international stage. Coppins still has some winter meetings lined up, the collection of slick tyres in the back of the race truck a clue to his commitment next weekend to the high-profile Mettet Superbiker supermoto event. Philippaerts will continue a testing program with the new YZ through the coming months.
2009 has been a memorable year for the YZ and Yamaha's motocross efforts. The MX1-GP title was successfully defended and the Manufacturer's crown was added to the mantelpiece. All four of Yamaha's principal riders in the category won Grand Prix this season and a YZ only missed the world championship podium on one occasion.
Tony Cairoli, Yamaha Red Bull De Carli:
"The first race was perfect. I knew Chad was there all the time and it was pretty hard to make that rhythm all race but I guessed it was the same for him. We could pull away from the other guys and it was fun. The people here were amazing and I want to say thanks, because they helped me a lot. It was a pretty big crash at the start of the second but now I feel a bit better. I was full gas along the straight and I think it was Paulin who closed my line a bit from the inside and then someone else squashed me from the outside, once we touched then we went flying. I am happy for the first Heat but this was not a good day for Italy and we had no luck."
David Philippaerts, Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross Team:
"I am very happy for my position and to win the Open class but of course things did not work out for our team. I had to ride very hard today with two bad starts; I did the right thing yesterday with the holeshot but was pretty bad for the races, still I pushed really hard to close up to Tedesco. I think the gap was almost ten seconds but I kept opening the gas more and took some chances. When I saw the opportunity to overtake and I made it happen I thought 'this cannot be possible', this must be another David! It was another chase in the second moto. With all the people here it was a hectic but amazing experience and something I will remember for a long, long time."
Davide Guarneri, Yamaha Monster Energy Ricci MX Motocross Team:
"I have to be disappointed. My start was bad in the first moto and I did what I could but in the second I was top five on the first lap until Byrne hit me. We were not together on the jump take-off so I don't know how it happened. I think with the power of his 450 he just over-jumped and it felt like his front fork hit my shoulder."
Josh Coppins, Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross Team:
"A steady day. It was tough because I was like team boss! I had a lot to organise and we qualified well but my two team-mates were not quite prepared for the quick turnaround of the races, it was also a tough track. I was hoping for top ten but it looked like we were just outside. Anyway I did my best for my country and this was my last big race for Yamaha. It was amazing here. The race is now almost too big. You have so much to do as a rider and everything takes too long just because of the crowd; this is a good thing but strange to deal with."
Tanel Leok, Yamaha Red Bull De Carli:
"Last week I crashed and had concussion so I was struggling to be 100% fit. The track was good and I liked it; I found I could be fast. I made some big mistakes in the first moto and got tangled up with some fallen guys at the start of the second. I pushed too hard after that and could not finish the race with the speed I wanted. It was my first time in the MX Open class and it was hard work with the back-to-back races. There were many fans here and it was a good experience."