Two races wins for Ricky Carmichael led America to their 16th Motocross of Nations title, matching the all-time win record held by Great Britain, after three thrilling finals held in front of 36,000 vocal fans at Ernee, France today (Sunday).

"I don't think I've ever seen such a good crowd, fair and enthusiastic," said Motocross legend Roger De Coster, manager of the American team. Even the weather helped out, with rain in the morning watering the track before bright sunshine arrived in time for the races.

AMA champion Carmichael, the pre-event favourite and America's representative in the premier MX1 class, lived up to every bit of the considerable hype that has surrounded his presence in France dominating both his races.

In the first, which saw the MX1 riders mixed with the MX2 class, RC broke away early and simply eased away from the competition to eventually take a 8-second victory over New Zealand's Josh Coppins, with home hero Mickael Pichon third for France.

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Meanwhile, reigning MX1 world champion Stefan Everts failed to shine, suffering arm pump on his way to fifth position.

The top MX2 rider in race one would be Carmichael's team-mate Ivan Tedesco, who took sixth on his 250 four-stroke Kawasaki, with new KTM recruit Sebastian Tortelli one place behind for France.

Race two saw the MX2 riders line-up with the Open class, and a stroke of fortune for the Belgian team as both USA and France got into trouble, following crashes for Tedesco (who would finish 17th), Tortelli (29th) and Windham.

American ace Windham had looked likely to take victory after pulling a substantial lead over New Zealand's Ben Townley, but dropped down the order to fifth following a fall - leaving Townley, who also took a tumble, to claim victory ahead of Frenchman David Vuillemin with Steve Ramon third for Belgium.

The third and final race - featuring the MX1 and Open class riders - would be decisive with Belgium and the US effectively tied (although the worst score could be dropped) - and America got off to a perfect start as Carmichael and Windham held the top two positions early on.

However, buoyed by his race two ride, Townley would charge quickly up the order and, after passing Windham for second, thrilled the crowd as he matched Carmichael's pace lap-for-lap as he kept RC just a second ahead for the opening ten-minutes, before the Suzuki star edged ever further away.

Townley nevertheless held on to a safe second, while Windham absorbed heavy late race pressure from Pichon - who then fell on the last lap, dropping him to fifth - to collect third ahead of Coppins, confirming Team USA's well deserved victory.

"I wanted my two team-mates to have the same sensation that I had in France in 2000 when I won the Nations for the first time," said Ricky. "It was a good day. Everyone was talking about me, but there were two other guys on this team that rose to the occasion.

"We race so much at home and it is almost overkill, but the factories invest a lot of money and they don't care about this race, they just want success in 250 Supercross. We come here for pride and because we want to and that is why it is so sweet to win," he added.

Carmichael, Windham and Tedesco would be joined on the podium by home team France and defending champion's Belgium, with Everts having made his way through the pack from dead last after a first turn crash to finish ninth (one place behind team-mate Kevin Strijbos) in the final outing. However, the one disappointment of today's races was that the Carmichael/Everts showdown never materialised.

Despite Townley's heroics, and the best efforts of Coppins and Cody Cooper, New Zealand lost out on the podium by a single point - although BT could still take pride in finishing second behind the amazing Carmichael in the individual classification.

After what has been one of the most successful editions of the Motocross of Nations in recent history, 2006 host country Great Britain will try to the top this weekend's event on the 23rd and 24th of September at Farleigh Castle.

Next year's Motocross of Nations will mark the 60th birthday of the legendary 'Olympic games' of motocross.

Results - 2005 Motocross of Nations:

1. USA - 16
2. France - 24
3. Belgium - 31
4. New Zealand - 32
5. Great Britain - 56
6. Estonia - 59
7. Netherlands - 82
8. Portugal - 83
9. Republic of South Africa - 86
10. Spain - 99
11. Finland - 104
12. Japan - 107
13. Italy - 110
14. Germany - 111
15. Switzerland - 121
16. Australia - 121
17. Canada - 133
18. Czech Republic - 146
19. Sweden - 146
20. Denmark - 107

B Final:

1. Slovenia - 5
2. Ireland - 5
3. Austria - 13