October is a big month for motocross across the globe, between numerous rider announcements here in the United States, the Monster Energy Cup, and the conclusion of the MXGP world championship. But the annual Motocross of Nations, returning to American soil for the first time in eight years this weekend at RedBud, is the only place where we get to see almost all of the world’s best riders in one place.
With three classes of riders on each of the 31 national squads entered in the event, there’s plenty of top talent spread across this year’s motocross equivalent of the Olympic Games. Here are three names that you’ll want to follow closely in this weekend’s action:
MXGP: Gautier Paulin
For the past four years, the French squad has dominated MXoN, and it’s been thanks in large part to Paulin, the only rider to be on all four teams. He kicked off their winning streak by winning both of his races in 2014, and looks to extend the streak after finishing third in class last year. Paulin just wrapped up the MXGP season with a fifth place finish in the championship, getting the nod over Romain Febvre, who finished just behind him, and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross runner-up Marvin Musquin.
MX2: Aaron Plessinger
Plessinger moves up to a 450 for Yamaha in both Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross after taking 250 wins in both last year, but he’ll stay on the smaller bike for the American team this weekend as part of a totally refreshed lineup. Joining Eli Tomac and his new 450 teammate Justin Barcia, they’ll hope to improve on last year’s disappointing ninth place finish in the championship before heading to Las Vegas next weekend for the Monster Energy Cup.
Open: Travis Pastrana
As bad as the photos he’s shared of his knee look, it’s an absolute treat to know that Pastrana is getting back on the bike to race in this event. Riding for Team Puerto Rico, he’ll be helping to raise money for disaster relief for the island that continues to rebuild after being hit heavily by Hurricane Maria last year. In a massive 2018 that has also included three major stunt jumps for Evel Live and the development of a new rallycross course for Nitro World Games, MXoN is just the icing on the cake for Pastrana.