Dean? No!

It may be five months away, but the drama that comes with selecting riders for the Motocross des Nations is already kicking off. After coming very, very close to a podium in 2011, team Great Britain are hoping for great things this year in Lommel. Really, it wouldn’t be wrong for us to expect a podium finish from our riders. With world calibre riders like Tommy Searle and Dean Wilson capable of competing, it’s not out of the question. Except, it seems as though we will be missing our most valuable rider – Dean Wilson – as the Scotsman will most likely not be draped in union jack colours come September.

Yesterday, the ACU released a press release stating that Steve Dixon will be replaced as team manager of Great Britain’s Motocross des Nations effort. The man replacing him? Neil Prince. Now, both men have accolades deserving of the job, and both know exactly what it takes to win through years of experience. But there’s more to it than Steve Dixon simply stepping down, as he stated in the press release:

“Unfortunately, myself and some of the ACU committee had a difference of opinion regarding bringing Dean Wilson over and even to the fact he is not on the short list for 2012, and with that, the criteria has changed for team manager selection, so I was not appointed.”

Unfortunately, for everyone really, it seems as though Dean Wilson has not even made the short list of possible Motocross des Nations riders, due to the cost of bringing him, and his team over to Belgium. But Dean Wilson isn’t just some other rider; he is a special talent and key to the success of Great Britain. Undoubtedly, that is why Dixon felt the need to get him on the team and I agree with him.

For this one off race, success should be the priority; everything that happened prior to the first gate drop in Lommel should be put too one side and the countries best riders should be on the line, whatever the circumstances. To fulfil our reputation as one of the elite Motocross countries, we need to send our best riders and at the moment Dean Wilson and Tommy Searle seem to be worthy of positions on the team, except one of them is already being eliminated, virtually cutting our chance at success!

Dean Wilson does seem like the perfect candidate for a Motocross des Nations spot. In the two years he has represented Great Britain, he has done an outstanding job. Both times he has had to overcome adversity as well, whether it was green-fencing in his back wheel in 2010, or riding through a broken wrist last year. Which in itself is an astonishing achievement, especially when you consider he still managed to battle his way through the pack and deliver the results necessary. Personally, I believe the ACU can’t just let a rider like that pass by. If Dean Wilson doesn’t line up this year, because of financial reasons as stated by the ACU, then it really will be a huge loss for British Motocross as a whole.

It seems as though the ACU and our des Nations team are always at the heart of controversy, and Neil Prince is another in a long line of previous managers. Who can forget Mark Eastwood? Our riders seemed to work very well alongside him, and produced great results, but he was forced to resign by the pressure Youthstream put on the ACU back in 2009 about his comments on the GP scene. That paved the way for Dixon, who again helped our riders to some great results. But now he’s out, we have another new team manager in Prince. You just don’t often see that constant shuffling of team managers amongst other top countries.

Maybe that’s the key to success that team Great Britain has been lacking for so long?  A steady team manager. It works for team USA, who have been under the watchful eye of Roger DeCoster for many years. Undoubtedly, Prince has the experience from his years around the sport to know what he is doing in this position, but it’s that stability of a firm team manager, which the team seems to lack.

Going forward, I guess there is a small chance that this whole situation could work itself out within the next five months. If we are going to have the very best shot at victory, then all the issues need to be resolved; it’s just a waiting game. These situations have worked out for the best in the past. For example, there was the dispute amongst the Italian team in 2010, when Antonio Cairoli stated he would not be racing, as his sponsors’ logos could not be fully exposed on the team shirts. But in the end, after the federation found a way to come to the best solution for both sides, to bring the country the best possible result. Cairoli ended up on the start line.

All we can do is hope that the situation works itself out in the coming months, and that when the team is finally announced at Langrish in August, we have the best possible riders and all problems have been pushed to the side. There’s no doubting Wilson’s speed, fitness or the bike beneath him, he is most certainly a very valuable tool to our team. It may be finances which are forcing the ACU to make this decision at a very early stage, but there’s always a way of getting around a problem. All we – the British Motocross community – can do is sit and wait.

Lewis Phillips

MX Vice Editor || 25

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