The ACU tend to announce their team for the Motocross of Nations at the penultimate round of the Maxxis British Championship, which takes place in August. A lot will happen before that, of course, but speculation is already beginning to arise. The break in the FIM Motocross World Championship calendar makes this the ideal time to partake in that debate and dissect the potential candidates.
The British team once struggled with the fact that so many riders piloted a 250F. In 2012, for instance, the squad consisted of three full-time MX2 guys. A different problem presents itself now though, as a majority of the great British riders reside in the premier MXGP class. Ben Watson and Conrad Mewse are obviously capable of great things on such a large stage, but both are too inconsistent at this point. It would not be too much of a surprise to see either rider slide into the 250F slot though.
Tommy Searle is the favourite to occupy that position on the team, in my opinion, as his prowess on the smaller bike could not possibly be called into question. The past seven months have been disastrous, but the health issues that have contributed to that should be in the rear-view mirror by the time that the event begins. Searle will undoubtedly be required to prove himself once he returns from injury first though and there will not be much time to do that.
There is a simple fact that should quell any doubts. Searle was plagued by injury at the start of 2014, which was his second term on the 450F, but still romped to the individual win in the MX2 class at the Motocross of Nations later that year. The fact that there is already an extremely competitive Monster Energy DRT KX250F on track only helps his case.
Max Anstie is another candidate to drop down to the MX2 division, but he may be the most use aboard his FC 450. ‘99’ has been a revelation thus far and competitive on all surfaces; there is simply no reason to doubt him. Just look at how brilliant he was at the MXGP of Germany, which really was not too long after his knee injury. It seems that he’ll just go from strength to strength in the coming months and consequently be an asset to the British team. It would honestly be shocking if he does not end up on the team in some capacity.
Based on current results, Dean Wilson is in a similar position to Max Anstie. It is difficult to foresee a scenario where he would not be on the team. The situation is always a little more complicated with him, seeing as the cost and logistics of actually getting him to Europe are far greater, but the fact that he is on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team should make the process much simpler. Wilson has gone 6-8-9-27-3-5-6-8 in his appearances at the Motocross of Nations and has actually only been the throwaway score once.
Although Shaun Simpson will have to show something when he returns from injury at the end of the month, his ride in the first moto at the MXGP of Latvia confirmed that he has found a happy place with his bike set-up. It will undoubtedly get overlooked that he was set for a podium on that day. If ‘24’ shows that kind of pace towards the end of the season, selecting just three riders to represent Great Britain on October 1st will be an extremely difficult task. Simpson would have to be on a 450F though – that is a foregone conclusion.
Before we sign off, those who are further away from a comeback must be acknowledged. Riders like Adam Sterry and Jake Nicholls would have undoubtedly been in the mix, had their respective seasons not been hit by cruel luck. The fact there are so many potential riders to choose from speaks volumes about the current level of talent in the UK.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna Motorcycles/J.P Acevedo