What a Nations that was! The 2013 Motocross of Nations just about had everything. But in this column we will look at some different angles of the event.
First off, Ryan Dungey, Dungey only finished outside the top two five times out of 24 motos in the USA but while everyone is slating Dungey for a poor performance I don’t think it was just as bad as everyone made out. Yes it wasn’t his best performance either, but Gautier Paulin, Tommy Searle, Max Nagl and big Ken de Dycker are no slouches either.
Those guys can go just as fast as Dungey and have all beaten Cairoli in their time. Two years ago Paulin beat RV too. So it is almost a little disrespectful to the other riders to say Dungey rode awful because he didn’t he rode OK, but OK doesn’t cut it in that field of top MX1 riders on a tough track in Germany.
It is interesting to note that last year, before the Nations in Lommel, that Dungey and Barcia had the opportunity to race the German GP at Teutschenthal… but they didn’t take it. That extra bit of preparation could have made the difference over the weekend.
Another interesting fact is that Ken Roczen has beaten Dungey at the Nations for the last three years in a row… and Roczen has been on the 250f to Dungey’s 450 each time. That is quite an accomplishment for the German and next year Roczen will step up to the 450 and take on Dungey full time in the USA.
Eli Tomac also beat Dungey on the 250f (and Barcia) and showed phenomenal speed so you have to wonder if these two could be ready to start a new era in AMA racing and be the leading contenders to beat Ryan Villopoto. They put on one heck of a performance on Sunday and Roczen showed so much mental strength to hold Tomac off. The only thing that would have made that race better would have been the MX2 world champion Jeffrey Herlings in the mix!
The overwhelming feeling amongst team USA and the Americans on the Puerto Rican team was shock. Alex Martin said the speed of the riders he was racing against was “surprising” and admitted to learning the name of Martin Barr in the B final! They simply were shocked at the speed of the GP boys and it highlighted just how off the radar the GP series is in the USA in terms of exposure and respect.
Nicoletti had never heard of Karro or Gasjer in the B final and couldn’t believe they beat him. British championship rider Graeme Irwin was on the same speed as Nicoletti all weekend which also shows the strength of the British championship in comparison with a rider who has been top ten this year in America.
Thankfully though this seemed to be the weekend that the GP boys finally got respect from across the pond. Team USA had put last year’s defeat down to the sand and fully expected to win this year. But by the end of the day an honest Justin Barcia admitted that the “Euros” were “gnarly” and the tracks were unlike anything he had ridden in the states. He also mentioned how he watched Cairoli and tried to copy some of his style – so big respect to the American guys for admitting they got beat straight up.
Tim Gasjer was impressive. Yes Slovenia didn’t make the A final but Gasjer was on the gas big time. The 16 year old was only a couple of tenths off Roczen in qualifying and almost won the B final against the experienced MX1 rider and British championship contender Matiss Karro. Gasjer is reportedly moving to Gariboldi Honda next year and let’s hope they give him a good bike – because this kid could challenge for World titles in the future. He is super smooth and technical and a real joy to watch on a bike.
Another ride that went somewhat unnoticed was Marc De Reuvers ninth place in the third moto. De Reuver was drafted in to replace Jeffrey Herlings and he rode fantastic in the third moto to show he still has GP level speed when he puts his mind to it.
Team GB just didn’t have the luck on their side but Shaun Simpson’s ride after a first turn crash in moto three was brilliant and he had a better best lap than Barcia as he rode in his wheel tracks the whole way through the field. Nicholls had an interesting run in with Tomac although Tomac didn’t even know Jake’s name! Searle was second overall and he rode excellent- Tommy should be a race winning threat in 2014.
It is still unbelievable that Belgium won because they arguably had worse luck than the USA! De Dycker (like Dungey) didn’t have his best ride in moto one and then their strongest rider Desalle blamed a bike problem for hitting the gate in his first moto and had to come from last to third. With a holeshot he may have been able to battle Tomac and Roczen because Desalle was flying the day before.
In the same moto Van Horebeek went down on lap one and had to come from outside the top 30 to seventh. Then, unbelievably, Desalle went down and dislocated his shoulder in race three! It couldn’t have went any worse but those two rides from the back of the pack in moto two and brilliant ride from De Dycker in that third moto are what helped Belgium win. The Belgium team rose to the occasion under pressure and despite bad luck and they totally deserved the win. It was almost an American like performance by the Belgians when the chips were down.
The joy of team Belgium and Italy to on the podium was great to see. This meant the world to both teams and it was brilliant to watch the genuine happiness that both felt. However the direct contrast to the pure desolation of Team USA was fascinating. I don’t think there has ever been such a distinct contrast in emotions. The American refused to take their hats off and walked straight off the podium as the champagne was sprayed – those guys don’t take defeat lightly.
Last but not least the track was brutal! The braking bumps after the finish line jump were HUGE and there wasn’t a smooth line to be had to get to the corner. Once there you have five or six deep bumpy ruts to choose from and that was only one section! Big respect to all the riders who rode round that circuit because it was a man’s track for sure and required an insane amount of skill to get round at the pace the top boys were going.
So the 2013 Nations is over but it is one no-one will ever forget. Next year it will be in Latvia and another totally different track – bring it on!
Article by Jonathan McCready
Picture by Elliot Spencer