Irish MXoN Stories: Richard Bird

Richard Bird has had the opportunity to represent Ireland at the highest level of the sport by racing the Motocross Des Nations on two different occasions. The majority of riders don’t get to experience the amazing event of the Motocross Des Nations, so understandably Bird has good memories from both occasions he contested the event.

Bird is still racing so who knows, he might even get to line up at the event once again. We caught up with Bird to discuss the event, after ten years on a KTM he’ll switch to Yamaha when we can get back to racing.

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

Bird: I represented Ireland in 2011 at Saint Jean D’Angely in France and in 2018 at RedBud in USA.

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

Bird: It was a great feeling, knowing you were going to race at one of the biggest races of the year, it’s hard to top that, it’s a dream to get to ride for your country at the Motocross des Nations.

Gatedrop: What top riders were 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)?

Bird: In France, Team USA won with Dungey, Villopoto, Baggett. Other riders were Cairoli, Reed, Herlings, Roczen, Paulin, Musquin, Pourcel, Wilson, Rattray. My team mates were Martin Barr and Stuart Edmonds. In America, Team France won with Paulin, Ferrandis, Tixier. Other riders were Coldenhoff, Herlings, Roczen, Cairoli, Tomac, Barcia, Prado, Pastrana, Windham. My teammates were Martin Barr and Gary Gibson.

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

Bird: France was hardpack, steep hills and big jumps. But I remember arriving on the Sunday morning for the race; it had rained all Saturday night and they had done no track prep, the ruts were all filled with water and it was a total mess. When we arrived at RedBud on the Thursday, we walked the track and it was unbelievable looking, the whole setting including the paddock was just a different class. The track was sandy with massive jumps, looked fast flowing but then unfortunately the thunderstorms arrived before the racing and it became survival mode, we were burning clutches out for fun.

Pic: Doug Turney

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

Bird:  In France we were 19th overall, it was tough going because we had to go through the, ‘B’ final before racing in the main event. In America we were 13th overall which was a great result. On paper we weren’t the strongest team and a lot of people had wrote us off, so to qualify straight to the main races was really good.

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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!

Bird:  One of my main memories looking back has to be the after party in France up in the Belgium team awning, you had Stefan Everts on the decks and all the top riders partying away. Plenty of free drink and the pints were being thrown from one side to the other, It was some night’s craic.

Everts on the DJ decks!

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

Bird: For me I think it’s still a very special world class event. It’s the Olympics of motocross, it’s the only event when announced me and the mates talk about booking to go and watch.

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?

Bird: Enjoy it and take it all in because it’s a busy weekend and goes past very quick. Meeting so many different people and racing against your hero’s is a fantastic experience, and as long as you know after the last race on Sunday that you give 100% all weekend that’s the main thing. At the end of the day you’re racing the best in the world.

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

Bird:  I’ve won 3 Irish championship and I’ve won 6 Ulster championships, I have some top 10’s in British championships races as well.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pic: Doug Turney