Finland announce MXoN team for Ernee

The biggest motocross race of the year, the Motocross of Nations (MXON), will be held in Ernée, France, on October 7th-8th, 2023. The Finnish team for the race consists of Emil Weckman, Miro Sihvonen, and Jere Haavisto, led by team manager Kusti Manninen, just like in the past two years.

Young but experienced team ready to do battle

The Motocross of Nations is the sole international championship event in motocross where riders compete as national teams. Simultaneously, it’s also the only competition where riders represent their home country instead of their racing teams.

Emil Weckman, 21 years old, has been competing in the MX2 World Championship for the last two seasons as part of the French Ship To Cycle Honda SR Motoblouz team. Weckman currently holds the 13th position in the World Championship standings, and his best moto finish this season is a sixth-place in the Swedish round.

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“Motocross of Nations is undoubtedly the highlight of the season, and it’s fantastic to represent Finland again,” says Weckman, who is participating in the Finnish national team for the third time. “I’ve competed in Ernée twice before, so the situation is a bit easier compared to last year in Michigan, where the track was completely new to me. Also Ship To Cycle Honda SR Motoblouz team is from France, so this race holds special significance for them as it’s their home race.”

The Open class rider for the team, 24-year-old Jere Haavisto is the reigning Finnish champion in the MX1 class and is also leading this season’s series with a perfect points tally. This season Haavisto has participated in selected MXGP class rounds, with his best moto result being an 11th-place finish in the Swedish MXGP. Haavisto has represented Finland in the Motocross of Nations in 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the team once again. I participated in my first Motocross of Nations in Ernée in 2015 when I was just 16 years old. To be honest, going up against the world’s top riders in front of such a massive crowd was a bit overwhelming at the time. But having participated in MXON three times now, I’ve become accustomed to the thrill. I’m currently in my third season with the Finnish Silve Racing team, and with each passing year, we’ve been progressively narrowing the gap towards the leading contenders in the MXGP series. Overall, I’m feeling pretty confident as we approach this year’s race.” says Haavisto.

The team’s other “veteran”, 24-year-old Miro Sihvonen, will compete in the Motocross of Nations in the MXGP class. Sihvonen’s best moto result in the MXGP class this season has been 17th in the Finnish MXGP round. Sihvonen has represented Finland in the Motocross of Nations in 2015, 2016, 2021 and 2022.

“I started my national team career in Ernée just like Haavisto, back in 2015. It’s amazing to think that it’s already been eight years since then. Representing Finland in the Motocross of Nations is an honourable task, and I’m proud to be part of the team for the fifth time. It’s great to be back in the team with Jere and Emil, and I’ll be working hard in the upcoming month to prepare for the race,” says Sihvonen.

Return to European Territory

Last year’s race in Michigan, USA, was a challenge for the Finnish national team both logistically and in terms of financial resources. The team managed the challenges excellently and advanced from the qualifying heats straight to the A-final, ultimately finishing in 14th place.

“The conditions for this year’s race are naturally more favourable, as all riders will be able to ride their own race bikes instead of borrowed ones, and the track is familiar to all our riders. On the other hand, Ernée’s hilly and tight clay track isn’t traditionally the optimal terrain for Finnish riders used to sandy tracks. Fortunately, Emil Weckman, based in France, has been primarily training on clay tracks for the past couple of years, and Jere and Miro also have many years of experience on the hardpack tracks of the World Championships. Passing on the Ernée track isn’t easy, making good starts super important. I’ve emphasised to the riders that they should work on their starts thoroughly. The starting gate order for the qualifying heats will be drawn, adding an element of luck into the mix. Luck or not, I have confidence in our team, and the goal is to continue the strong performances from the last two years,” reflects Kusti Manninen, the team manager of the Finnish national team.

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The competition is expected to feature over 35 national teams this year, with only the top 20 making it through to the final. Qualifications will be held in separate heats for each class. The two best results will count towards the overall standings, determining the top 19 countries that will advance directly to the final. The teams that do not qualify will race in the B-final, with only the winning country gaining entry to the main race heats.

“We’re entering the competition with the same team as last year, so the goals remain essentially the same. Our primary emphasis continues to be on the Saturday race, with the objective of advancing directly from the qualifiers. Given that I anticipate a larger number of countries participating compared to last year, the challenge won’t be any less demanding.” concludes Tomi Konttinen, the Head of Coaching at the Finnish Motorcycling Federation.

The main sponsors of the Finnish Motocross World Championship team are Motonet, a Finnish chain specialising in automotive spare parts, tools, and home and leisure products;, specialising in machinery and equipment manufacturing, imports, and wholesale and retail sales; Yoko, a Finnish brand for motorcycle and bicycle gear; and Ship To Cycle, a worldwide door-to-door delivery service specialised in bicycles. The team’s clothing is provided by Brandix Oy, a manufacturer of corporate textiles and promotional and corporate gifts. Xracing, Finland’s leading off-road motorcycling magazine, serves as the team’s media partner.

Words: Press Release