America retained the Motocross of Nations title despite not winning a race on Sunday at Matterley Basin, near Winchester on Sunday.
A massive 85,000 air-horn toting crowd saw MX1 World Champion Stefan Everts win his two races for the Belgian team and Italian Antonio Cairoli take the third race but the American team of James ‘Bubba’ Stewart, Ivan Tedesco and Ryan Villopoto scored consistent top six finishes to win the title by seven points from the Belgians.
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American champion Ricky Carmichael was at the event but couldn’t race due to injuries sustained recently in the AMA Motorcross Championship. The British team of Billy Mackenzie, Carl Nunn and Tommy Searle were sixth overall, Searle’s ninth in the MX2 class the team’s best result. Read exclusive interviews below:
MX des nations results:
United States (15)
New Zealand (35)
Great Britain (55)
South Africa (59)
In 18 years of racing Stefan Everts has won a record-breaking ten World motocross titles and even though he’s still virtually unbeatable in Europe the 33-year-old has decided to retire.
MCN: This year you clinched you sixth successive world motocross title and dominated the Motocross of Nations. Why quit now?
Everts: I’ve been riding professionally for 18 years. It’s a long time. Not many people have a career in a high-impact sport for much more than 10-12 years. Also I’m turning 34 this year and mentally I’m finished.
MCN: Aren’t you disappointed that Ricky Carmichael didn’t race this year as he beat you last year in the Nations?
Everts: It’s a shame that we didn’t race one more time. Last year was bad for me, I’m stronger this year and it would have been a good battle. But it made no difference to me. I think about what I’m doing rather than the other riders.
MCN: Why did you never race in America?
Everts: I made a decision a long time ago that I wanted to break all the records in MX GP’s. I’ve done what I set out to achieve and don’t regret my decision.
MCN: You’ve achieved so much, do you have any regrets?
Everts: In South Africa 2004 I was racing against Mickael Pichon. We collided on the first corner and I fell off. I then walked to the next turn and threw my goggles at him. I also got back on and tried to get him again. That’s my biggest regret. I also wish the 2000 season had gone better. (Everts missed the whole season due to his knee injury)
MCN: You wrecked your knee joint twice in successive seasons. How did you come back from the kind of trauma that would have forced others out of the sport??
Everts: My girlfriend and the people at Yamaha stood by me and helped me get back on track. It felt like my life had stood still for two years.
MCN: What has been your greatest achievement?
Everts: Winning three GP’s in a day I won all three classes (then MXGP 125cc and 650cc and MXGP – but now known as MX1, MX2 and MX3) in the 2003 French GP.
MCN: What’s next for you?
Everts: I’m still going to go to race meetings but have no plans to race competitively. But I want to spend time with my family I have a son and want to be a good father to him.
15-times AMA champion Carmichael could not compete in this year’s Nations due to a shoulder injury. And just like Everts, the virtually unbeatable American is retiring.
MCN: Why quit full-time racing when you’re still only 25?
Carmichael: I’ve proved what I can do and I feel that I don’t need to push it anymore. I’ve just signed a three-year extension to my contract and I have a choice of what racing I want to do in future. I could do a full season of supercross or motocross
MCN: Which one would you prefer to do?
Carmichael: I think I’m just going to do a few of each and see how we go. I’m going to let my shoulder heal naturally which will take tome, but the doctors say I don’t need surgery.
MCN: Won’t you miss full-time motocross competition?
Carmichael: It’ll be great not to have to worry about the title. I can push it harder and not have to worry about the next 10 or 12 rounds. I can do more on the bike. I’m looking forward to racing for the fans and the fun.
MCN: Aren’t you disappointed missing this weekend’s racing?
Carmichael: Totally. In the States all riders dream about winning two things: the Daytona Supercross and the Motocross of Nations. It’s the only race where all the riders are racing with their hearts and not their heads. They do it for their country.
MCN: What do you think of the riders in the MX of Nations?
Carmichael: I learnt a lot form James we had some great races and I feel I’m a better rider for it. And Stefan (Everts) has always been a great competitor. It’s a real shame that we’ll never race against each other again.
MCN: What else is there in your future?
Carmichael: I sacrificed a lot to get where I am today and I’m now ready to reap the benefits. I would like to start a family I’m ready for a new challenge. I’ve been testing in NASCAR but my heart is also in motocross so I’m helping Suzuki with the development of their bikes and younger riders. It’s time to take a step back.
20-year-old James ‘Bubba’ Stewart is the current Supercross Champion but while he’s considered the Tiger Woods of motorcycling, he still didn’t have the measure of Carmichael.
MCN: You’ve been voted as one of the most influential sportsmen in the world. Does that add even more pressure?
Stewart: Having the number one plate helps, but sure there’s pressure, but only what I put on myself.
MCN: Being the first African-American motor sports champion in the US have you encountered any racism?
Steward: Never with the fans, they always appreciate what I do and the way I ride. There are a few guys in the paddock that are jealous and throw insults but that’s normal and nothing racial has ever been said.
MCN: Aren’t you gutted that you won’t get to challenge Carmichael again competitively?
Stewart: Ricky’s the toughest competitor I’ve ever come up against and great to battle against, so yeah, it’s a shame but I’ve got other people there trying to beat me.
MCN: What’s so important about the MX of Nations to you?
Stewart: I’m just pleased to be representing my country. Everts was fantastic, but I swallowed my pride and hung on to second place to help the team. It’s different to any other weekend where you’re only out for yourself.
MCN: You’re only 20-years-old and have done so much what else do you want to achieve?
Stewart: I’ve won supercross and motocross titles on a 125 but not on the big four-strokes yet so those are my targets.
MCN: What keeps you motivated?
Stewart: I haven’t won enough yet! I’m still young, If I was 24-25 Id be thinking differently but I can go for years yet and I just want to keep winning.