Motocross des Nations 1985 Gaildorf West Germany

Motocross des Nations 1985 Gaildorf West Germany

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Revamped Motocross des Nations format launched in 1985

1985 Motocross des Nations, World Teams Event – Gaildorf, West Germany (12-13 September)
1985 Motocross of Nations - Glen Bell and Trevor Williams in Gaildorf, Germany
1985 Motocross of Nations - Trevor Williams and team manager Stephen Gall in Gaildorf, West Germany
Jeff Leisk in pits

Photos: [Left] Glen Bell  and Trevor Williams pictured in Gaildorf (along with Jeff Leisk) were members of Australia’s first MXDN Team at the inaugural event in 1985; [Centre] Williams, left, with Stephen Gall away from the motocross; and [Right] Leisk was hospitalised following a crash in Saturday’s qualifying session

Leisk injury ends Australia’s chances at the inaugural Motocross des Nations

On 12-13 September 1985, the fist Motocross des Nations (MXDN) was held in Gaildorf, West Germany with the Americans etching their country in the history books after winning the inaugural event.

Likewise, British 500cc Honda rider Dave Thorpe became the first rider to be the outright winner under the new format, which featured for the first time all classes combined on the one weekend.

Previously, from the very first MXDN in 1947 in Holland, the format consisted of three separate events over three weekends in different countries – the Coupe Des Nations (for the 125cc class), the Trophee des Nations (250s) and the Motocross des Nations (500s).

The new event name “Motocross des Nations” (Motocross of Nations in English) was transferred from the previous 500cc class World Teams event.

Just the year before, Australia competed for the first time in the World International Motocross teams event, choosing only to contest the 250cc Trophee des Nations in Varberg, Sweden for the experience and due to the enormous costs.

Unfortunately for Australia, our team’s first-up performance in the 1985 MXDN was a disaster before the racing even started.

The Aussies finished 20th overall with Jeff Leisk unable to compete in any moto’s, after crashing heavily in practice and cracking the vertebrae in his back.

Under the FIM rules, replacing Leisk with a substitute rider was not allowed, so Australia’s chance of success was restricted, although the other Australian Team members were competitive in their respective classes.

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Australia’s first official MXDN Team

With the Australian Auto Cycle Council’s (ACCA’s) endorsement, Australia’s first official team was announced for the 1985 MXDNs in Gaildorf. 

The inaugural team members consisted of Glen Bell (NSW, Yamaha 125), Jeff Leisk (WA, Honda 250) and Trevor Williams (VIC, Kawasaki 500) with Stephen Gall replacing Len Williamson as the Team Manager.  

That year, Bell and Leisk were Australia’s reigning Australian 125 and 250cc Champions, with Leisk also clinching the prestigious Mr Motocross series for the second time.  Trevor Williams was a two-time Australian 500cc Motocross Champion (1980 and 1983) and was always one of this country’s top performers in this class.

Unfortunately, five-times Australian and four-times Mr Motocross Champion Stephen Gall, who started Australia’s MXDN effort, was struggling with a knee injury, which forced him to retire that year and he was unavailable for a final swan song on the International stage.

It was a big job again organising and fundraising the Australia’s entry and on arrival in Gaildorf, the team set up their base at the nearby Gasthof Rossle hotel.

Len Williamson, who attended the event as an Australian Jury Member, said that the hotel owner Seigfreid was very accommodating, graciously allowing the Aussies to use his pig barn leading up to the event. 

“With a year’s experience under our belts, the Australian team was much better prepared in 1985 with assistance from Kawasaki Germany for Williams, Pirelli again, and Gary Benn was able to activate some of his contacts,” Len said.

“Quite a few of the Aussie ISDE Team members (which was to be held between 30 September and 5 October in Cerdanya, Spain) came along and helped out as mechanics, gofers, drivers etc, so we were confident of being competitive.”

New Motocross des Nations race format

The new MXDN format introduced in 1984 was held over 3 x 40 minute motos with riders from all classes competing together in each moto.

With 63 international riders competing from 21 different countries, a second line of riders was required across the start line. Needless to say, the start and first corner was intense and the racing was frantic with lots of action.

There were no longer any qualifying heats and the number of riders from each country was reduced from four to three. 

This same format largely remains to this day, except riders now only compete in two of the three moto’s on the day.

Video – The Motocross Race Vault – 1985 Motocross des Nations, Gaildorf in West Germany

Team USA narrowly wins the inaugural event over The Netherlands

1985 MXDN - David Thorpe UK (7) leads US riders David Bailey (1) and Jeff Ward (2)

Photo: David Thorpe UK (7) leads US riders David Bailey (1) and Jeff Ward (2) in the 1985 Motocross des Nations in Gaildorf

Team USA narrowly won the inaugural MXDN in Gaildorf (7 points) ahead of The Netherlands (12 points).

The US Team consisted of David Bailey (500), Jeff Ward (250) and Ron Lechien (125). Bailey finished third overall and in the 500cc class with 2-3-4 finishes in each moto. Ward and Lechien each won their classes with Ward making it a clean sweep in the 250s (1-1-1) and Lechien finished 3-1-1 in the 125s.

The Dutch Team, consisting of Kees Van Der Ven (500), Gert-Jan Van Doorn (250) and Dave Strijbos ), really took it up to the Americans, with Van Der Ven finishing second overall and in the 500cc class (3-1-2) and Strijbos doing the same in the 125s (4-2-2).  The hosting Nation West Germany finished third overall (22 points), ahead of Italy (29) and Great Britain (32).

The 1985 MNDN was a special one for British legend Dave Thorpe. He went 1-2-1 against the almighty American team despite his team-mate and friend Kurt Nicoll laying in a German hospital with a broken leg, picked up on the Saturday practice session.

Williams shines for Australia, despite the Aussie opening disaster

Disaster struck the Australian team at Gaildorf even before the first moto got under way.

Jeff Leisk heavily crashed his Honda 250 in the final timed practice session while running second fastest behind American legend Jeff Ward (USA), which landed him in hospital with a cracked vertebrae. Trevor Williams was on track at the same time trying to lift himself into the top ten when he came across the fallen Leisk.

But with the rules not allowing a substitute competitor to replace Leisk, the Australians would need a solid result with no DNF’s from Williams and Bell to be classified as a finisher.  And Williams did just this! He finished a creditable sixth overall in the prestigious 500cc class with an 8-11-8 finish on his Kawasaki.

Bell also performed admirably, finishing sixth in the 125cc class aboard his Yamaha in the first moto and twelfth in the third. Unfortunately Bell DNF’d in the second moto, which effectively eliminated the Australian’s from the results and relegated the team to a disappointing 20th position.

The Australian team sadly departed Gaildorf, leaving Jeff Leisk stuck in hospital for the next fortnight, alongside his roommate Kurt Nicholl from Great Britain who also crashed and broke his femur during the qualifying session on the Saturday.  

One of the ISDE entourage was a radiologist who thankfully assured the team that Leisk’s injury was not too serious. He kindly stayed with Jeff until Jeff’s father Bob Leisk arrived from Australia.

Trevor Williams headshot - BW

Photo: Australia’s Trevor Willliams finished a creditable sixth overall in the prestigious 500cc class in the 1985 MXDN in Gaildorf

1985 MXDN Team Placings and Race results

Team Placings

1. USA 7
2. The Netherlands 12
3. Germany 22
4. Italy 29
5. Great Britain 32
6. Czechoslavakia 32
7. Finland 33
8. Belgium 38
9. France 38
10. Austria 50

20. Australia

Moto 1

1. 500 THORPE David GB Hon
2. 500 BAILEY David US Hon
3. 500 VAN DER VEN Kees NL
4. 500 KINIGADNER Heinz AT Ktm
5. 250 WARD Jeff US Kaw
6. 250 MARTENS Jacky BE Ktm
7. 500 VIMOND Jacky FR Yam
8. 125 VEHKONEN Pekka FI
9. 250 DIEPOLD Roland DE
10. 125 STRIJBOS Dave NL Hon

Moto 2

1. 500 VAN DER VEN Kees NL Ktm
2. 500 THORPE David GB Hon
3. 250 WARD Jeff US Kaw
4. 500 BAILEY David US Hon
5. 125 LECHIEN Ron US Hon
6. 125 STRIJBOS Dave NL Hon
7. 500 MARGAROTTO Michele IT Kaw
8. 250 VAN DOORN Gert-Jan NL Hon
9. 500 VIMOND Jacky FR Yam
10. 250 DIEPOLD Roland DE Kaw

Moto 3

1. 500 THORPE David GB Hon
2. 500 VAN DER VEN Kees NL Ktm
3. 250 WARD Jeff US Kaw
4. 125 LECHIEN Ron US Hon
5. 500 MARGAROTTO Michele IT Kaw
6. 500 BAILEY David US Hon
7. 125 VEHKONEN Pekka FI Caj
8. 125 MADDII Corrado IT Caj
9. 125 STRIJBOS Dave NL Hon
10. 250 DIEPOLD Roland DE Kaw

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