McCullough, Barr, Irwin & Edmonds talk Nations!
It was an eventful weekend for the Irish team at the Motocross Des Nations! We decided to catch up with the three riders and Philip McCullough who was the team manager of the country for the first time at the time.
Philip McCullough (Team Manager)
Gatedrop: That must have been a pretty stressful weekend for you first time as manager!
McCullough: Being part of the nations team on several occasions during my career I guess helped me this year as team manager, at events like these it’s very important that the 3 riders are happy and content with what’s happening, so I had quite a lot of contact with them all and took their opinions and views on board throughout my preparation.
I’d say the stressful bit was leading up to the event making sure I had everything in place, and with me taking on pretty much all the organising and jobs myself it was pretty hectic and a lot of running around.
Gatedrop: The riders really couldn’t have given any more, even their results in the A final was good despite having ridden the B final before!
McCullough: I know all three riders very well and i referred to them as my ‘Dream Team’. The three of them are true professionals in every aspect of the word and to say I was proud to lead them and our country out would be an understatement..
Unfortunately for Graeme a small crash early in his practice hampered him from showcasing just how much talent he has and the pace that goes along with this.
As for Martin and Stuart they really stepped up to the mark, knowing that GI was sidelined with injury it would been very easy to throw the towel in but both lads showed true grit and determination not only to come out winners in the B final but also with their results in the main races, on such a tough and demanding circuit and in very hot conditions.
Gatedrop: What did you think of the event as whole?
McCullough: The MXON for me definitely is the highlight of the MXGP calendar and this event certainly lived up to all expectations, for me it’s the Olympics of motocross and an amazing spectacle for riders and spectators..
Gatedrop: Aside from the Irish riders, who impressed you?
McCullough: My 3 riders did me very proud and other than them I guess it would be hard to go past Herlings as the guy that impressed me most, with his move up to the MXGP class next year I’m sure the young dutch star will undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers on his factory KTM.
Gatedrop: Did you enjoy it and would you do it again next year?
McCullough: For me it certainly was the highlight of my motocross career, managing my country at such a prestigious event, and having my family and 2 sons there to experience it with me was fantastic.
It truly was one of my proudest achievements and if the MX commission in Ireland want me to continue with the roll of team manager it would be my pleasure.
Martin Barr (MX2)
Gatedrop: How did you find the track?
Barr: I really enjoyed the track, it flowed really good and the jumps were pretty sweet, although it was a little rocky but it prepped very well!
Gatedrop: Did you feel a lot of pressure once Graeme got hurt? You always have that expectancy on your shoulders to lead the team but rise to the challenge every time!
Barr: Mmm not really I always go to every race and give 100% no matter what situation I’m in. With Stuart always putting his heart into it I knew we still had a chance of making the main event! What happened to GI was just really unfortunate.
Gatedrop: When did you realise you got into the A final?!
Barr: I didn’t realise until once I had finished and was riding off the track and the FIM guy told me to go up behind the podium. Once I was there they still weren’t sure as Germany and made an error which means we got the transfer into the A final which I was over the moon about.
Gatedrop: Can you confirm your plans for the 2017 season yet?
Barr: Yeah, for 2017 I’m staying with Buildbase Honda again. I’m riding MX2 in the British championship and the MX1 class in the MX nationals. I will also race the Italian championship and two or three GPs as well so I’m really looking forward to getting started and excited with riding the all new CRF450.
Stuart Edmonds (OPEN)
Gatedrop: What were you thinking when you went down in the first turn in the B final?
Edmonds: My first thought was, I’m caught in his bars and I can’t do anything, this is gonna be a bad start and the next thing I knew I was on the deck shouting at myself that I have ruined it and threw it all away. After the first lap I passed so many riders I had a completely different vision and said to myself “right, 30mins you can do this”.
Gatedrop: Your ride through the pack to eighth was very impressive, would you say that was one of the best rides of your career?
Edmonds: I made some aggressive moves in the first few laps and that allowed me to break into the lead pack so that I didn’t lose too much ground. I knew my fitness was good all year and that I could ride like that all the time, I just always seemed to get caught up or make mistakes and all I did was picked a rider chased him down, passed him straight away and moved onto the next one. My biggest help was coming past pit-lane and absolutely everyone hanging out with flags and shouting at me, Dad, John Dunne JNR, Gav Craigie boarding me P30, P25, P18, my lap times and it kept getting better each lap. I knew I was making good ground and it gave me a boost of confidence too because these are all fast riders and I was going forward in the race. I’d say it was my best ride yet but I know I have much more to give with the speed I was showing in the B final. I just need to prove that every weekend.
Gatedrop: What is It about the Nations that brings the best out of you?
Edmonds: I am not sure, MXON is a massive event and to ride for your country is an honour, each year I ride it’s like a new kid getting asked to ride, I just love it. The passion I have for the sport is massive and to be able to ride that event, I just put my heart and soul into being the best I can be on the weekend. I always found that if the standard of a race went higher I would always seem to be able to take myself up a notch or two and I’m not sure how or why. I guess I feel comfortable with those guys and know I can run with them and it just works for me.
Gatedrop: How hard was it competing against all the factory bikes during the course of the weekend?
Edmonds: Well to be honest the TM is an amazing bike and to understand that you have to ride one. For a stock machine it goes pretty well and I didn’t feel to under powered or anything like that. I was just at a disadvantage on the start due to my gate pick and i am not the best starter so a part from my starts the big blue is well able to hold her own with the factory boys.
I’d just like to thank the teams sponsors for their help in getting us there, also to Phillip for putting up with us and a big thank you to everyone that has supported me throughout the 2016 season and to get me to where I am now. These guys are the foundation to my racing career and i cant thank them enough.
Jimmy Jones plant hire
POD knee braces
Energise Therapy Clinic
West Park fitness
Macho martial arts
Flow family clothing
Pro green mx
Graeme Irwin (MX1)
Gatedrop: First off how bad is the injury and do you need an operation?
Irwin: I am seeing Michael Eames (shoulder specialist in NI) on Wednesday. As of now it’s feeling good for only being one week since my crash.
Gatedrop: What happened with the crash?
Irwin: The crash was small. I was just taking my time learning the track as I knew the conditions where going to get a lot better as the session went on. Anyway as I was coming down the last down hill I washed the front and and jared my left shoulder.
Gatedrop: You got six laps in warm-up do you feel the track would have suited you if you were fit?
Irwin: Yes, the track was perfectly suited for me, but I am confident in my riding and bike that I could have been strong no matter what track!
Gatedrop: It was your weekend to show the world your speed, how frustrating is it you got an injury?
Irwin: This is motocross, it happens. it just happened at a really bad time!
Gatedrop: For 2017 will you continue with Dave Thorpe’s team? Could wee see you do a few wildcard GP rounds next year? You have the speed!
Irwin: Yes, I’ll be back with Dave Thorpe. This year has been great and I believe next year it will only be better! Yes, you will see me doing at least three rounds of the MXGP World Championship.