Irish Motocross Des Nations Stories: Geoff Leaney


Geoff Leaney had a great Motocross year in 1982 as he finished second in the championships at home and with Laurence Spence competing, that was just about the best he could do. By having such a good year, Leaney represented Ireland twice that year at the Motocross Des Nations on the 500cc and the Trophee des Nation on the 250cc, back in those days they had separate events for each class.

Only a select few that are good enough can look back on their Motocross careers and say they were good enough to say they represented Ireland at the highest level and Leaney can look back at the event with fund memories. To this day, Leaney is still a super fan of the sport as his son, Scott Leaney started racing, unfortunately a knee injury has ruled him out of racing the past few years but he’s to make a return to racing this year.

Leaney visited an MXGP of Assen and was a fan despite it being a man made circuit. He also attended the Matterley Basin Motocross Des Nations in 2017, it’s good to see he still has a passion for the sport.

Gatedrop: What year(s) did you represent Ireland at the Motocross Des Nations and at what tracks/countries?

This article continues below

Leaney: I contested the MXDN on the 500cc and the Trophee des Nation on the 250cc. The events were one week apart in September 1982 at Wohlen in Switzerland and Gaildorf in Germany.

Gatedrop: The first time you got the call to represent Ireland at this event, how did it feel to get selected?

Leaney: I received my selection letter (which I still have) through the post. I was very excited and honoured to represent my country.

Gatedrop: What top riders where you up against from other countries to give people an idea of the level – do you remember which nation and individual riders that won (also who were your Irish team mates)?

Leaney: Some riders included George Jobe, Andre Malherb, Andre Vromans, Graham Noyce, Neil Hudson (250 World Champ) and Dave Thorpe etc etc. 1981 was USA first win of 13 in a row and the 1982 team was David Bailey, Danny Chandler (Magoo) Jim Gibson, Jonny O’Hara.  The MXDN and Trophee Irish team was Laurence Spence, Steven Russell, Alan Magee and myself.

 

Gatedrop: What were the tracks like at the MXoN you rode and did you feel you were well enough prepared for them?

This article continues below

Leaney: Both tracks were fast natural hard pack. Wohlen was 30 degree backed hard and not something we are used to. I don’t think you would ever be prepared for 40,000 spectators 10 deep the whole way around the track.

Gatedrop: How did Ireland do at the events you represented them for?

Leaney: I think we finished 12th that year, there wasn’t the same number of countries as there are now. I rode well 23rd/24th as expected.

Gatedrop: What memories/stories from the event stick out for you when you look back to the event? There must be some things that happened not too many people know about!

Leaney: I remember Jim Gibson lapping me with a flat rear tyre, he was still more than 10 seconds a lap quicker with a flat.

Gatedrop: When you look at the Motocross Des Nations now, do you still think it’s still as special as it used to be?

Leaney:  The Motocross Des Nations was always a big thing, with modern media coverage it can only get bigger. It is the Olympics of motocross.

This article continues below

Gatedrop: What advice would you give to any young rider who might be lucky enough to get selected for the event for the first time?

Leaney: I think when you get the shout from the selection committee, keep your feet on the ground, ride to your best ability. Remember you will be riding with superstars on a different level. It is amazing to be given the chance to ride in the same race as your idols. Relax, breathe and remember it all.

Gatedrop: At a domestic level, what were your biggest achievements and what good memories do you have outside the Motocross Des Nations?

Leaney: I finished second in the home championship in 1981/82. That was the best anyone could finish when Laurence Spence was riding. If Laurence came off on the first corner you knew he was coming to get you, 2nd was a win. My best achievement is meeting my best life long friends through motocross. My best race was winning the International King of the Castle 2002 at Farleigh Castle.

Interview: Andy McKinstry