It’s here – it’s finally here! The Motocross des Nations, the big one, is just around the corner! With just a couple of days until the biggest event on the motocross calendar kicks off over in Germany, at Teutschenthal, we thought that now would be a good time to break down some of the contenders. So, here it is – our Motocross des Nations preview!
So, which team is the favourite heading into Teutschenthal? Well, it is not hard to figure that one out – team USA is certainly the strongest on paper. If their three riders (Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia) ride as well as they usually do, they should be dominant. But, as we all know, motocross is more complicated than that, as a lot can go wrong, and it always does for one team at the MXdN. In my opinion, starts could be the greatest problem for the team, or more specifically, Eli Tomac. Although Eli had improved his starts, by the conclusion of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross campaign, he has by no means perfected the craft.
However, Eli Tomac is fast enough to move through the field if he gets a bad start. Both Ryan Dungey and Justin Barcia are fast enough too, obviously, hence why team USA will be strong. Interestingly, this will be the first time that the Geico Honda rider has travelled to the MXdN; we have seen how testing the experience can be at first. Tomac has past experience racing in Europe, at least, so it will not be so foreign to him. I would be very surprised if the Americans do not take the Chamberlin Trophy home with them – it would be shocking.
Honestly, the Belgian squad is probably the only team that could potentially beat the USA. In my opinion, team Belgium look the strongest they have done in quite some time, despite the fact that their team is identical to the one that tackled Lommel, in 2012. Joel Smets has been tactical with his selection though – Clement Desalle will ride in the Open category, instead of his usual MX1 slot. However, this means that he will face a lesser field, which could open the door for the Belgians to steal points. Although Ken de Dycker is usually quite up and down, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him stand out, on Sunday, as Ken has had some great results at Teutschenthal. In fact, he won the overall there in 2010 – it was the site of his last GP win.
In my opinion, Jeremy van Horebeek is the weakest link, as he has to drop down onto a 250f, which he has not ridden since this event last year. ‘Jerre’ hasn’t ridden a Kawasaki 250f since 2010 too, so it isn’t like he has any settings to fall back on. However, even if he struggles, I’m of the opinion that Belgium is a safe bet to finish second, at least. The Belgian team wants to return to the top of the podium – that is quite clear; this could be their best shot.
The Germans are the wildcards here, I believe. I would be very surprised to see them defend their win from Lommel. However they are going to be in front of a passionate home crowd, I am sure that this will spur them on to achieve good results. Surely Max Nagl isn’t feeling one hundred percent, as he has only just returned from the Epstein Barr virus. Nagl was honestly less than impressive before that, also. Obviously, Ken Roczen is the favourite to win the MX2 class (individually) – he has never failed to win the class. Unfortunately [Marcus] Schiffer will not be on the squad, as he is out with an arm injury.
Dennis Ullrich (the replacement for Marcus) is worthy of a spot on the German team. But, he may not have the speed required to help his team contend for the win, or even a position on the box. In my opinion, Dennis is more of a supercross specialist. However his countryman, Roczen, will be close to the front of the pack, which could help the Germans stand on the podium at the end of the day.
The 2012 MXdN was not good at all for the British riders, as they finished in a sub-par eighth overall. But, I expect team Great Britain to finish somewhere around fourth, or fifth this year (which is where they find themselves most years). Honestly, we all want our nation to return to the podium, and this could be the year. However, our riders (Tommy Searle, Jake Nicholls, and Shaun Simpson) have been quite inconsistent this year – so, it depends on whether they are on-form or not. Simpson is undoubtedly on a high after his first GP win, still. So I think he will be strong, and Searle should be too; he has performed well at Teutschenthal in the past. Jake Nicholls has had the most turbulent year of the three. However, he thinks that team GB can land on the podium – it is certainly a possibility!
The French team is usually the greatest threat to the Americans. However they seem to have lost there way a little bit, as I don’t foresee them landing on the podium this year. Obviously, Marvin Musquin isn’t on the team, but we won’t get into that, as its just madness! I am actually quite interested to see how they will perform this year, as they have some riders that are new to the race in Jordi Tixier (MX2), and Christophe Charlier (Open). Gautier Paulin is going to have to carry the team, but he has not been the same rider in recent weeks. So, it is not clear how the team, as a whole, will fare in the rugged German valley.
Honestly, I think that the Italians could be a surprise package this year. If things fall their way they could end up on the box, which would be a great accomplishment for them. Toni Cairoli will obviously hope to win the individual overall, again – if he can do that, it would be a great help to Italy. In the past, Alessandro Lupino has been the weakest link. But now that he has a CLS Kawasaki beneath him, he will undoubtedly be competitive. Interestingly, this is the first time since 2009 that David Philippaerts has ridden for his country. Although he isn’t the rider that he once was, he is still competitive – hence why this is the strongest squad that Italy has had in quite a while.
Although they are missing Chad Reed, the Australian squad should end up on the cusp of the top five, I believe. I honestly would not be too surprised to see them ahead of Great Britain. I am sure that some of you aren’t familiar with the name Todd Waters (Open). But he is quick; Todd surprised a lot of people when he first represented the team at Lommel in 2012. When Brett Metcalfe made his rare American Motocross appearances this year, it was clear that he hasn’t lost any speed. So, he should be around the top five in the individual MX1 results, and of course, Dean Ferris (MX2) is no slouch either. Simply, if all three riders perform well, don’t be surprised to see team Australian standing on the podium – they are the underdogs.
I am very interested to see how Canada performs, to be honest, as they have a healthy team this year. Cole Thompson (MX1), Jeremy Medaglia (MX2) and Tyler Medaglia (Open) are fast, individually, so as a squad they should be even stronger, right? I can see Canada finding their way into the top ten, which wouldn’t be too surprising. Ireland is another team that could fit into the top ten, on a good day. Unfortunately, Stuart Edmonds is out with injury. So, Ireland is not fielding their strongest team. But, with Graeme Irwin (MX1), and Martin Barr (MX2) on track, they could do some damage. I believe that the Netherlands will finish towards the bottom of the top ten, as they do not have Herlings. So, their team is not the strongest that it can be – Coldenhoff could be strong individually, though.
So, there you have it – the countdown begins! Interestingly, the weekend could get crazier, as some rain is forecast. But whatever the weather does, it is guaranteed to be a thrilling weekend of racing whether you are at home, or trackside, like us.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Ray Archer