David Luongo comments on the 2021 MXoN format
The three motos of the 74th Motocross of Nations at the Tazio Nuvolari International circuit at Mantova, Italy on September 25-26 will not carry FIM World Championship points for those MXGP and MX2 riders selected after Infront Motor Racing confirmed they have dropped the polemic idea.
The promoters initially considered implementing ‘Grand Prix’ points for the annual non-championship event as a way to ensure the participation of the top teams and riders of MXGP, and as well as using the fixture to amplify the world championship calendar. The Motocross of Nations will take place in the midst of the MXGP campaign for the first time and is tightly scheduled between Grands Prix in Sardinia and Germany. The flagship spectacle is a traditional end of season gathering, when the demands and pressure of championships both for MXGP and the AMA Pro Nationals have subsided. The September slot is problematic for an unstable Grand Prix calendar that has suffered from cross-border travel and changing regulations but is nicely timed to ensure the presence of Team USA; the most successful nation in the history of the competition but also a squad that has not lifted the Chamberlain trophy for the last ten years.
The points scheme was seen as impractical and unfair in the MXGP paddock. Each country can select only three riders to compete at the ‘MXoN’ and would therefore have implications for teams such as France that will have highly-placed GP riders missing out on the chance to earn points, and then athletes such as double MXGP reigning world champion Tim Gajser who is unlikely to race at Mantova due to the lack of competitiveness of Team Slovenia.
Even though the MXoN is the biggest motocross race of the year, the scheduling means a conflict of interest for riders, teams and brands that are aiming for top places in the world championship standings. However, Infront believe they have the necessary commitment and interest from the paddock and the industry to confirm the event’s status and ensure a worthy return after the cancellation of the 2020 edition.
“The most important thing for us was to know if the industry would play the game because everybody knows that this event is the most important of the season, in terms of sport but also popularity,” explained Infront Motor Racing CEO David Luongo exclusively at the Belgian GP last Sunday. “It is the biggest off-road event of the year. It is something that goes ‘over’ the sport because it brings spectators from many countries. So, it was important for us to understand the feelings towards it, and we had confirmation from people so we didn’t need to enter a system where we had to change the rules.”
“It [the points scheme] was on the table though because we have to defend events, and if we saw that it was necessary then we would have done this,” he adds. “But from what we see and understand we have the guarantee that all the top guys will be there. For us it good to keep the same format.”
Infront are acutely aware of the awkward date for Mantova but with MXGP initially slated to run into December to enable countries to progress their vaccination programmes and hopefully free-up travel and the possibility for public gatherings, 2021 will be a unique occurrence.
“In a perfect world it is not a good or a perfect system to be in the middle of the championship, but we are in the situation where we need make things the best they can be and it is still the best solution for this year,” Luongo offered.
There were also concerns over the suitability of Mantova. The former Grand Prix site is located in parkland in the centre of the small Italian city north of Bologna and is minute in size compared to venues like Matterley Basin, RedBud and Maggiora, even if it is accessible for any European-based team. Infront are still waiting for confirmation of the quantity of public that can attend a race that normally sees crowds hitting 50-60,000 fans and more in recent years.
“It will be compact but Mantova can handle a lot of people,” Luongo says. “We are now trying to see the total amount of people we can have. We are in this process, but we are sure it will be a very decent amount and we will do our best to organise the access and the paddock to host all these people.”
Words: Adam Wheeler
Pic: Infront Moto Racing