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Motocross des Nations Australia

Motocross des Nations Australia

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Motocross des Nations - Australia's epic journey

The most successful Australian Motocross of Nations Team ever – Craig Dack (251), Jeff Leisk (500) and Glen Bell (125)
2023 MXdN's Ernee France 10 - Australian team and officials (Motorcycling Australia - Alex Kelly Photos)
1992 MX des Nations Manjimup Western Australia
2011 Australia third at Motocross of Nations in France - Chad Reed, Matt Moss and Brett Metcalfe

Photos: [L-R] In 1988, Jeff Leisk, Glen Bell and Craig Dack  – with Team Manager Stephen Gall – achieved Australia’s highest placing at the time in the Motocross des Nations, cracking a fourth place at Villars-sous-Écot in France; [centre] The 2023 Australian team and officials at Ernee in France (Motorcycling Australia – Alex Kelly);  [Top right] Australia hosting the 1992 event at Manjimup (WA); [ Bottom right]  Australia third at  the 2011 MXDN’s in France – Chad Reed, Matt Moss and Brett Metcalfe.

Australia creates history in France to finish second at the 2023 Motocross des Nations

Following Australia’s history-making second place at the 2023 Motocross des Nations at Ernee in France, it’s a good time to reflect on Australia’s journey in this prestigious World Motocross Teams event.

On 7/8 October 2023, the Lawrence brothers (Jett and Hunter) and Dean Ferris finished second to the hosting French Team at the Moto Club Ernée circuit in western France, 60 miles from Le Mans – our highest ever placing.

It was the third time ever that Australia has podiumed with the Lawrence brothers going one place higher than in 2022 in America with Mitch Evans. Australia’s first podium came in 2011 at St Jean d’Angély, France with Chad Reed, Matt Moss and Brett Metcalfe (Open) finishing third.

 

Australian Motocross legend Stephen Gall was the driving force in establishing Australia’s first National motocross team and entry to the World Teams event in 1984.

That year, Gall and one of his early mentors, Len Williamson took on the challenge to organise Australia’s participation in the Trophee Des Nations in Varberg, Sweden.

Between 1947 to 1984, the MXDN 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), having run this way from the very beginning in 1947.

As the cost to enter an Australian team in each event was simply prohibitive, it was decided to only enter a team for the Trophee des Nations in Varberg Sweden. Equally, it was felt that Australia would have a better chance of success in the 250cc class.

As the event was being held in Sweden, four-times Australian Champion Pelle Granquist and Swede’s Peter Kalen (who had previously competed in Australia) and Leif Nicklasson (who was also well known to the team) were eager to assist the inexperienced Aussies with logistics and costs.

Finally after securing ACCA’s endorsement, Australia’s first official team was announced consisting of Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha), David Armstrong (QLD, Honda), Vaughan Style (NSW, Honda) and Trevor Williams (VIC, Kawasaki) with Len Williamson the Team Manager.

1984 Trophee des Nations, Varberg Sweden

The Trophee Des Nations in Varberg event format consisted of four riders per team, split into two groups.  Each group contested 1 X 40 minute moto.  The nine best teams progressed to the A Finals which was 2 X 40m motos. The remaining teams contested the B Final which was a 1 X 40m moto.

Despite being fairly competitive, a series of mechanical failures, sadly relegated the Australian team to the B final.  

Stephen Gall and Trevor Williams performed admirably in this race, finishing third and fourth, respectively.  But mechanical issues on Armstrong and Style’s bikes saw the Aussies drop down to third last position.

The Australian Team members were all devastated with such a disappointing result. But despite this, it was a marvelous experience and the learnings and contacts established set up Australia for our ongoing involvement in the event.

More importantly, for every Australian motocross competitor it created the future opportunity to represent their country. It established a goal for all competitors to aspire to that continues to this day some 37 years down the track!

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Photo: Denmark’s Soren Mortensen leads the B Final at the 1984 Trophee des Nations in Varberg, Sweden, ahead of Australians Stephen Gall and Trevor Williams, with Team Manager Len Williamson cheering on

The early Australian MXDN Teams

1985 Motocross of Nations - Glen Bell and Trevor Williams in Gaildorf, Germany

Australian Team members Glen Bell and Trevor Williams at the very first combined Motocross of Nations in Gaildorf, Germany in 1985

Since 1985, when the FIM amalgamated the three events into one for all classes at Gaildorf, Germany – taking on the 500cc event name “Motocross des Nations” – Stephen Gall took over from Len Williamson as the Australian team manager and held this role through to 1992 when he handed over the reins to Gary Benn.

Williamson was still involved as a Jury Member and Australia’s first official team under the new format consisted of Glen Bell (NSW, Yamaha 125), Jeff Leisk (WA, Honda 250) and Trevor Williams (VIC, Kawasaki 500).

Disaster struck the team in the final timed practice session with Leisk crashing heavily whilst running second fastest just behind Jeff Ward (USA), which landed him in hospital with a cracked vertebrae forcing him out of the event. 

With the rules not allowing for a substitute competitor to replace Leisk, Australia needed a solid result from Bell and Williams to be classified as a finisher. Despite Bell finishing a solid sixth in his first heat, he DNF’d in his second heat, which effectively eliminated Australia from the results.

Australia finished in a disappointing 20th position, but the Australians were competitive on the international stage and we continued to improve with David Armstrong, Glen Bell, Craig Dack, Jeff Leisk and Trevor Williams regular representatives during the early years.

Australia finally arrived on the International Motocross scene in 1986 at Maggiora in Italy, finishing seventh overall, beating motocross powerhouse countries France and Germany.

Then in 1988, Leisk, Bell and Dack achieved Australia’s highest placing at the time, cracking a fourth place at Villars-sous-Écot in France.

The following year when Leisk was the 1989 Runner-up 500cc World Champion, the Leisk-Bell-Dack combination finished seventh in Gaildorf, Germany. This trio achieved this same result in 1990 with Leisk winning the premier 500cc class at Vimmerby in Sweden.

Hosting the 1992 MXDN down under

With Leisk’s and the other Australian riders outstanding performances putting Australia on the World map, Motorcycling Western Australia (Leisk’s home State) secured the rights to host the 1992 Motocross des Nations at Manjimup, WA, the home of the Manjimup 15,000 in the South West.

More than 20,000 spectators attended this historic event, the first time ever it had been staged outside of Europe, with Team America winning its twelfth “des Nations” in a row.

That year a young trio of Americans – Jeff Emig, Mike LaRocco and Billy Liles – showed the world just how deep the talent pool in America had become. 

Australia’s representatives were Kim Ashkenazi (NSW, Suzuki 125), Dale Britton (WA, Yamaha, 250) and Jason Marshall (WA Kawasaki 500).

1992 Motocross Des Nations - Team USA Billy Liles 500, Mike La Rocco 250 and Jeff Emig 125

The winning 1992 Motocross Des Nations at Manjimup in Western Australia – Team USA Billy Liles, Mike La Rocco and Jeff Emig

Australia's first podium MXDN finish

Chad Reed leads the 2011 MX des Nations in France

Photo: Chad Reed on his way to winning the first moto at the 2011 event at Saint Jean d’Angely, when Reed, Matt Moss and Brett Metcalfe raced to Australia’s first podium finish.

With a host of Australian riders competing in Europe and the US at the turn of the century, Australia became really competitive during this period and were consistent Top 10 finishers in the MXDN.

Chad Reed, who went on to win two World Supercross Championships and an outdoor US motocross championship, captained Australia with the late Andrew McFarlane, Craig Anderson, Michael Byrne, Matt Moss and Brett Metcalfe regular members of the Australian team.

Our best performance at the time came in 2011 at Saint Jean d’Angely in France when the trio of Reed (MX1), Moss (MX2) and Metcalfe (MX3) raced to third overall securing Team Australia’s first podium in the iconic event.

Reed joined Leisk as the only Aussie to win a MXDN moto, in what was an epic result for the all-star line-up.

It would take more than a decade for Australia to prodium again with Australia’s international superstars Hunter and Jett Lawrence from New South Wales and Mitch Evans finishing third in 2022 at Red Bud in the United States.

 

Our finest ever MXDN's finish in France in 2023

With the Lawrence brothers brilliant year in the USA cleaning up in the 2023 AMA supercross and motocross championships, Australia had high hopes of breaking through to win its first World Teams event in France on 8 October 2023. 

But no one was going to beat the French that year on home soil and the Australians rode magnificently to finish second behind France and ahead of Italy.

All three Australians finished in the Top 5 of their respective classes with Jett (the fastest rider over the weekend) finishing third in the MXGP class, after winning the final moto.  Older brother Hunter was second in the MX2 class and Dean Ferris ws third in the MX Open class.

2023 MXdN's Ernee France 13 - Team Australia (Motorcycling Australia - Alex Kelly Photos)

Photo:  The Australian Team on parade at the 2023 MXdN’s in Ernee, France –  Brothers Jett and Hunter Lawrence  and Dean Ferris (Motorcycling Australia – Alex Kelly Photos)

Photo gallery

Motocross of Nations Team Maggiora Italy - David Armstong, Craig Dack and Glen Bell

Australia’s 1986  Team –  David Armstrong, Craig Dack and Glen Bell

Glen Bell 125cc Motocross des Nations

Glen Bell  in action at Maggiora, Italy  in 1986

The most successful Australian Motocross of Nations Team ever – Craig Dack (250), Jeff Leisk (500) and Glen Bell (125) with team manager Stephen Gall

1990 Vimmerby, Sweden – Jeff Leisk, Glen Bell, Craig Dack & Stephen Gall

1990 Jeff Leisk won the 500cc class at the Motocross of Nations

Jeff Leisk won the 500cc class in Sweden in 1990, before retiring

1992 Motocross Des Nations - Team Australia Jason Marshall 500, Kim Ashkenazi 125 and Dale Britton 250

1992 Manjimup, WA – Jason Marshall, Kim Ashkenazi and Dale Britton

1992 Jason Marshall Motocross of Nations

1992 – Australian 500cc  rider Jason Marshall (WA) at Cosy Creek

1983 Australian Motcoross of Nations team Glen Bell, Lee Hogan and Kim Ashkenazi

1993 Switzerland – Glen Bell, Lee Hogan and Kim Ashkenazi

2011 Australia third at Motocross of Nations - Chad Reed, Matt Moss and Brett Metcalfe 3

2011  St Jean d’Angely France – Chad Reed, Matt Moss & Brett Metcalfe

Australia's representatives

Motocross des Nations - Australian Team 1992

[L-R]  1992 Australian Team – Jason Marshall 500, Dale Britton 250 and Kim Ashkenazi 125 

1980s
David Armstrong
Glen Bell
Craig Dack
Jeff Leisk
Vaughan Style
Trevor Williams

1990s
Craig Anderson
Kim Ashkenazi
Glen Bell
Dale Britton
Michael Byrne
Troy Carroll
Mick Cook
Craig Dack
Lee Hogan
Jeff Leisk
Jason Marshall
Andrew McFarlane
Cameron Taylor

2000s
Craig Anderson
Steven Andrew
Cheyne Boyd
Paul Broomfield
Michael Byrne
Lee Ellis
Andrew McFarlane
Chad Reed

2010s
Lawson Bopping
Regan Duffy
Mitch Evans
Dean Ferris
Kirk Gibbs
Hunter Lawrence
Jay Marmont
Brett Metcalfe
Matt Moss
Chad Reed
Luke Styke
Todd Waters
Kyle Webster

Chad Reed's video highlights in the Motocross des Nations

Australia’s first attempt at the 1984 Trophee des Nations in Varberg, Sweden
Gary Bailey

Chad Reed winner – 2001 Motocross of Nations (Belgium) – Race 2 (125/250)
Rudicross (in French)

Chad Reed second place –  2007   Motocross of Nations (USA) – Race 1 (MX1/MX2)
mxgptv – starts at 30 minute mark

Chad Reed second place –  2009   Motocross of Nations (Italy) – Race 1 (MX1/MX2)
mxgptv – starts at 20 minute mark

Chad Reed  first place –  2011   Motocross of Nations (France) – Race 1 (MX1/MX2)
Starts  immediately

1992 Manjimup Motocross des Nations Photo gallery

By Peter Kitchingman

1992 Motocross Des Nations - Rob Herring Great Britain Honda 250

1992 Motocross des Nations at Manjimup in Western Australia

1992 Motocross Des Nations winners - USA, Belgium and Great Britain

1992 Motocross Des Nations winners – USA, Belgium and Great Britain

1992 Motocross Des Nations - Team Australia Dale Britton 250

Local rider Dale Britton finished in the Top 15 in both motos on his Yamaha 250 

1992
race video and program

Video – 3M Trailer  – 1992 Motocross des Nations,
produced by Motorcycling WA and the ABC.

Video – Three motos – 1992 Motocross des Nations,
produced by Motorcycling WA and the ABC.

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