Honestly, you cannot fault the racing at the Motocross des Nations this past weekend. There is no doubt that the action witnessed at Teutschenthal was some of the best that we have seen in quite some time! It was hard trying to single out certain battles to feature in this column today. So, we have decided to make this column a little longer than usual – the MXdN is worth it.
Clement Desalle vs. Justin Barcia – Open Qualifying Race:
Clement Desalle (1st)
Justin Barcia (2nd)
Honestly, I thought that both Clement Desalle and Justin Barcia were going to have a great battle at the 2013 Motocross des Nations. Why? Well, I thought that they would be well matched, as they seemed to be of a similar ability. But, the fight that I had anticipated never materialised – Clement was just too strong! In the practice sessions on Saturday morning, Desalle seemed to be stronger, but not by much. So, when he came out in the Open qualifying heat and waxed the field, it was really quite surprising. In fact, I was quite shocked at how Barcia struggled to match his pace.
Clement Desalle is a mystery wrapped in a riddle; he is quite hot and cold! Obviously, the Belgian was feeling on point this weekend, as he seemed like a new guy! Desalle was chucking the bike around, which is not typical of him, so he was seemingly comfortable. However, did I expect him to stretch out a thirteen-second lead? I definitely did not. Interestingly, most will state that the “American” way of racing is to sprint in the early laps, which often proves to be true at the Motocross des Nations. However, in this qualifier, Desalle burst out of the gate and immediately set a lap time three seconds faster than his rival!
Evidently, this ended up being a trend throughout the race, as he continuously set faster lap times than Justin Barcia. Clement used the opening nine laps to establish a gap over Barcia, so that in the closing stages, he was not under threat. Although Justin began setting lap times faster than Clement, I believe this to be because the Belgian was just bringing it home. Desalle was seemingly the faster rider on Sunday, also, so this was no fluke.
Ken Roczen vs. Eli Tomac – MX2 and Open Moto:
Ken Roczen (1st)
Eli Tomac (2nd)
Wow, what a race! Both Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac put an end to their yearlong duel on the world’s greatest stage, as they went head to head one more time in the second moto at the Motocross des Nations. It is no exaggeration to say that they were wheel-to-wheel for most (if not all) of the moto. So, who came out on top? Well, Roczen excelled in front of his home fans. But, you really cannot take anything away from Eli Tomac – he was just as good as the German; it was really anyone’s race. It is quite interesting to see that the two were so equal. Just look at the lap times, they constantly traded the fastest time.
Interestingly, both riders set lap times a lot faster than the 450f riders – the pace that they were running was seemingly very high. Evidently, the stakes got higher as the race wore on, as they elevated their pace by more than a second on the final lap! Ken and Eli broke into the 1:42 second range on that final lap, which they hadn’t done in around ten laps. So, they had more in the tank, it would seem. I honestly thought that Ken would tire, as he suffered with arm-pump in moto one. So, during the moto I was waiting for that to hit him hard again. However, he stayed strong, thankfully – it would have been tough on him to give up the lead in front of his home crowd.
Shaun Simpson vs. Justin Barcia – MX1 and Open Moto:
Justin Barcia (11th)
Shaun Simpson (12th)
Shaun Simpson was one of the biggest surprises of the weekend for me, it turns out that he has improved drastically on hard-pack too! You can tell that he was feeling comfortable, as he threw a handful of heel clickers throughout the weekend. Anyway, in the final moto he fell in the first turn with Justin Barcia, and got up behind him. Obviously, you would expect Barcia to pull away from Shaun – that isn’t a knock on the Scotsman. Shaun is a great rider, but we all agree that Justin is much stronger, right?
Shockingly (yes, I was shocked) Shaun stayed with Justin for the entire forty minutes. How close was he? By the end, I honestly felt like Barcia was holding him up a little bit. What a ride! Unfortunately, because this battle was not happening at the front of the pack, most will overlook Shaun’s ride. But, it was a great performance for Simpson, nonetheless. Just look at the times! Not only did the Scotsman match Justin’s pace for the majority of the race, he also managed to better his times a lot towards the end. So, if you’re one of the misguided people that think Shaun didn’t deserve to be on team Great Britain – you are wrong.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Elliot Spencer