After a successful start to the weekend in Teutschenthal, Germany, where they qualified second overall, Team USA had high hopes entering Sunday’s 67th running of the Motocross of Nations. The lineup of Ryan Dungey (MX1), Eli Tomac (MX2), and Justin Barcia (MX3/Open) was one of the most formidable tandems in recent years and following a hard-to-swallow third-place finish one year prior, this trio wanted nothing more than to bring the Chamberlain Cup back to the states.
While Team USA was the group to beat throughout the afternoon on Sunday, a couple mistakes ended up costing the team its 23rd title at the illustrious event. Instead, it was Team Belgium, arguably the biggest threat to the U.S. coming into the event, that prevailed to claim its 15th MXoN crown, its first since 2004, with Team USA following just three points behind in second.
Based on his past success and multiple years of experience at MXoN, many expected Dungey to set the tone for his team and possibly be the benchmark for the MX1 class. Instead, Dungey appeared strangely off his game for the second consecutive year at the event and could only muster 6-7 results, which included a couple off-track excursions in the final moto. Simply put, Dungey wasn’t a factor in either of his races and it is something that is still of surprise to the global motocross community. Nevertheless, he was consistent and his results still put the team in position to walk away victorious.
Barcia emerged as the star of the squad, picking up the slack and showing why he’s one of the sport’s most promising young riders with 4-11 scores. Barcia just missed out on a podium finish in the second moto of the day, but was even more impressive in his come-from-behind performance in the deciding moto. After getting caught in an early crash, Barcia needed to work his way through the talented field and was able to climb to 11th by the checkered flag. Despite his heroics, Barcia’s effort wasn’t enough but he left everything he had out on the track for his country.
Tomac was also impressive in his debut MXoN performance (16-2) and if not for a crash in the opening moto, Team USA would have likely secured the title. The rising star rekindled his rivalry with Team Germany’s Ken Roczen from this past summer’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and the pair put on a show for the reported 40,000 in attendance. That battle resulted in a spectacular get off for Tomac that could have easily been worse than it was. He was able to return to action, but posted Team USA’s throw away finish of 16th. He bounced back nicely to narrowly miss out on the win in the second moto, but his crash ultimately took away a surefire podium finish and the victory for Team USA.
Motocross of Nations Overall Podium
1. Belgium (Ken de Dycker, Jeremy van Horebeek, Clement Desalle) – 27 points
2. USA (Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac, Justin Barcia) – 30 points
3. Italy (Antonio Cairoli, Alessandro Lupino, David Philippaerts) – 33 points
For the second straight year Team USA left the Motocross of Nations with some hardware, but also licking its wounds a little bit, left wondering what might have been. They had control of their own destiny, but such outcomes are to be expected in a race of this magnitude featuring the greatest collection of motocross riders in the world.
The reign of dominance Team USA enjoyed for the bulk of the last decade is now met with arguably its toughest competition in many years. While America still serves as the premier global stage for motocross and its riders are often considered to be the fastest in the world, the competition is getting closer with each passing year. As a result, the Motocross of Nations is turning into a true showcase of worldwide motocross supremacy where any country can win at any given time.
MX1 Overall Podium
1. Antonio Cairoli – Italy (1-1)
2. Tommy Searle – Great Britatin (3-5)
3. Ken de Dycker – Belgium (8-2)
MX2 Overall Podium
1. Ken Roczen – Germany (2-1)
2. Dean Ferris – Australia (4-5)
3. Jeremy van Horebeek – Belgium (7-7)
MX3/Open Overall Podium
1. Justin Barcia – USA (4-11)
2. Tanel Leok – Estonia (6-17)
3. David Philippaerts – Italy (14-10)