Team GB for this year’s Motocross of Nations at Assen in Holland on September 29 will be Ben Watson (MX2), Max Anstie (MX1) and Shaun Simpson (Open).
Faced with a short-list of six riders that also included Adam Sterry, Tommy Searle and Dean Wilson, Team Manager Mark Chamberlain has opted for proven sand-riding ability with experience and fitness also deciding factors.
Watson, who’d been out of action for six weeks with a hand injury, returned at Lommel and promptly put his Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha on the MX2 podium while Anstie demonstrated his strength in sand by winning both the MXGP qualification race and the second moto.
Simpson was less successful at Lommel but his domestic form has been rock-solid with four wins from the last four races in the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship.
Although he missed four GPs after breaking his hand in practice at the MXGP of Germany, Chamberlain felt Watson’s comeback performance at the start of August earned him a place on the team despite Sterry’s strong late-season form.
“With Adam, the last few weeks haven’t been a surprise because I knew he was capable of it but the only real delay has been waiting to see if Ben’s hand was okay and then he came back strong in Lommel,” said Chamberlain.
“Ultimately, when you look at the experience that Ben gained last year for me that’s what swung it his way. Adam’s showing great form but that was enough for me to say that Ben’s going to be on the 250.”
Anstie’s MXoN pedigree – he won both his motos at Matterley Basin in 2017 – combined with his dominance of race two at Lommel made him a shoo-in for the team which just left the Open class berth to fill.
With Searle racing with a broken hand and US-based Wilson not up to speed after missing the first six rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship as he recovered from a shoulder injury, sand-specialist Simpson was the obvious choice.
“It’s important to communicate to those guys which way you’re going to go so they don’t find out through a Facebook post,” said Chamberlain. “We try and show everyone as much respect as possible. Tommy fully understood and Dean’s also been injured and a few weeks ago I contacted him and we agreed we weren’t going to go that way.
“No disrespect to Dean, he’s just like Tommy and was very realistic and wished the team all the best.”
On the back of two consecutive podiums at the event, the team will head to Holland as one of the favourites and Chamberlain has high hopes.
“We’ve got to go into it really positive,” he added. “I think before we might have gone in just thinking we’d be happy with a podium but this year we’re 100 per cent going for that and if things fall our way then maybe more. That’s the bottom line.”
Team GB Motocross of Nations results since 2000