Thirty-four teams from around the world lined up for the 2019 MXoN, the year’s biggest motocross event, at Assen in the Netherlands last weekend.
Team Ireland’s Martin Barr, Stuart Edmonds and Jason Meara gave it their all to finish 18th overall, in some of the worst conditions ever witnessed at the event due to heavy rain.
Team manager Philip McCullough was proud of his three riders as they battled through to the ‘A’ final on Sunday after a difficult qualifying on Saturday.
“We has to do it the hard way after a bit of bad luck in the qualifying race on Saturday, Martin rode exceptionally well on Saturday finishing 14th but Stuart and Jason struggled badly,” said a disappointed McCullough.
“Sunday was a different story with Stuart totally redeeming himself with a second place in the ‘B’ final while Martin finished eighth. Jason claimed an important 13th and it was basically his result that put us through to the all important ‘A’ final.”
At one stage the team were missing out on the feature races but as it turned out a Russian rider cut the course as he passed Martin Barr and was, after a protest, relegated to 19th meaning Ireland got through by one point.
“Poland were declared winners but one of the Russian riders who passed Martin on the last lap had cut the course making his lap time invalid.
“I had to go to race direction and when they looked into it we were right and Martin was elevated into 8th. That gave us the same points as Poland and when they counted back it was our third rider Jason Meara’s result that got us through to the ‘A’ final,” explained McCullough.
“Everybody’s home in one piece, and considering the issues we had to deal with over the weekend 18th is not bad. Martin Barr led by example and will still be the number one on any Irish list going by his performance in Assen. Everything about him is world class.
“If I wanted my young boy to emulate somebody in motorbikes I’d be saying if you can do what Martin Barr does you would be doing well. As team leader he led by example but it was a team effort and everybody worked hard over the weekend.”
Barr, who was riding in his 15th consecutive MXoN, said: “It was a long tough weekend. I was happy enough with my free practice time and with 15th in my qualifying race but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get straight into the ‘A’ final. Again with team Ireland we do things the hard way and had to race the ‘B’ final.
“With the heavy over night rain the track was really sketchy and deep but no excuses, it was the same for everybody. We made the ‘A’ final but the bike wouldn’t start on the line for race one. In race two I rode my spare bike and was going all right in 21st place but made a couple of mistakes and had a goggle stop ending up 28th.
“I wanted to do a lot better but when you have to do that extra Moto and the difficult conditions it isn’t easy. As a team I’m really glad that we got into the main event and finished 18th overall. It was an enjoyable weekend. I was hoping for more but it’s motocross and in those conditions it is a lottery. Hat’s off too Philip. He did a great job.”
Stuart Edmonds said he was pleased to make amedns after a disappointing first run.
“On Saturday I let the team down but I woke up Sunday morning and said to myself, look I need to turn things around get myself back in action and went out in the ‘B’ final and just laid it all on the table and came back with second overall,” he said.
“It was something that was really important to me after messing it up on Saturday and I felt that I had give a little bit back to the team. Race one on Sunday I was riding really well and running 28th, catching the group in front of me before I had a little spill.
“Then on the last lap the bike stopped half way round the lap and I limped home in 35th which at least was a finish. In the second Moto I rode the spare bike which was a little different from my number one bike but again I just laid it all on the table as it was the last race. I gave it my all.
“It was probably the worse conditions that I have raced, in 15 years of motocross. Thanks to all the sponsors who were on board for team Ireland and also my own personal sponsors who make all this possible.”
The newest member of the team Jason Meara added: “Today was chaos and the track was atrocious. We got through the ‘A’ final, just about and tried our hardest in the two motos.
“I struggled with the track which is no secret but I done the best I could which is all I can ask of myself. People don’t realise what you deal with from the weather, the cold, the track, the goggle issues, the little time to prep your goggles and kit between motos.
“There’s much more to it than just riding around. It’s nice to experience it and if I get picked again I will no what to expect! A big thanks to Phillip for all his help and hard work.”