A dramatic last-lap pass by Conrad Mewse put Team GB in a Nations podium position ahead of the final race in Mantova for the 74th edition of the MX of Nations.
It was a second consecutive holeshot for Team Switzerland with Valentin Guillod bagging the holey in the MX2 and Open race on a treacherous rain-soaked track in Italy. The Swiss rider was unable to stop a charging Jeffrey Herlings from getting by in the opening seconds of the race but Guillod put in one of the best races of his career. While Herlings rocketed into the distance on his Red Bull Factory machine, Guillod was solid for the entire moto.
Rene Hofer did get past early in the race but Guillod retook the position and Hofer was unable to mount another attack.
Things started to unravel for Team France. At the start of the race, they were in first place in the Nations classification and had fallen to eighth by the time the moto was over. Tom Vialle exited the race on lap two after what appeared to be an issue with his chain. To make matters worse for France, Mathys Boisrame went down and dropped to 22nd. He would recover slightly but still could only manage 19th at the chequers.
Team GB’s Shaun Simpson nailed a solid start in 11th place with teammate Mewse in 17th. Ahead of them, Team Italy got the crowd going with great rides to get them very much back in contention after Cairoli’s difficult opening moto.
Although Italy’s Mattia Guadagnini dropped his works KTM on lap four, the damage was minimal and he was still able to bring it home sixth with teammate Alessandro Lupino impressing with a seventh-place finish. Those solid motos put Team Italy in pole position heading into the final race of the day.
Team Belgium quietly moved up the Nations classification with an excellent second race. Brent Van doninck’s sixth and Liam Everts’ 13th put them in a position to go for an MXoN podium – taking second in the Nations classification after two motos.
Herlings was untouchable – he was in a race all on his own – reminiscent of his MX2 days. Racing with the unfamiliar #3, he was making around five seconds a lap on the rest of the field at one point and on lap 12 he lapped Boisrame who was in 22nd. In the end, Herlings took the chequers nearly 50 seconds clear of second-placed Guillod.
Team NL will hope that Roan Van De Moosdijk’s 20th can be their throwaway score and Herlings will need to repeat his win when he lines up in the last moto.
Mewse pulled one out of the bag on the final lap of the race to pass MFR’s Timur Petrashin – a crucial move with Team GB battling with Team MFR for third spot as they head to the final moto in Mantova.