Following a disappointing performance one year ago in Belgium, Team USA began its quest for redemption today at the 67th running of the Motocross of Nations. The Talkessel facility in Teutschenthal, Germany, will host a landmark 41 countries this weekend at the world’s most important motocross event and Team USA heads into action with a chip on its shoulder.
Following a random ballot selection to determine starting positions, all 123 riders took to the track on Saturday afternoon for qualifying to see who will race for the coveted Chamberlain Cup on Sunday and what position on the gate they will do it from.
Despite capturing a third-place finish last year, Team USA returned home with a bitter taste in its mouth after home field advantage was on full display on the sand of Lommel, Belgium. Team Manager Roger DeCoster hand selected his three-rider lineup in August with Ryan Dungey once again serving as Team Captain for the fifth consecutive year. The three-time winner is flanked by newly crowned 250 Class National Champion Eli Tomac, who’s MXoN debut will be his final race aboard a 250cc machine, and Justin Barcia, who’s back for the second straight year.
Team USA, as always, enters Germany as the favorites to win its 23rd Motocross of Nations title, but many have been curious as to how the team will respond to last year’s somewhat humbling experience that ended a seven-year streak of dominance. Saturday’s qualifying efforts would be a good indicator of that.
Team USA drew the 18th gate selection for qualifying, landing them right in the middle of the selection process. The premier MX1 class was first out of the gate and Dungey got Team USA off to a strong start by posting a runner-up finish behind Team Australia’s Brett Metcalfe, a familiar foe of Dungey’s on U.S. soil. Other notables like reigning World Motocross Champion Antonio Cairoli of Italy, finished fourth, while Max Nagle, Team Captain for reigning MXoN Champions Germany, posted a sixth-place finish.
MX1 Qualifying Podium
- Brett Metcalfe – Australia
- Ryan Dungey – USA
- Tommy Searle – Great Britain
The MX2 class of 250cc machines followed with its qualifying race. To no one’s surprise, German native Ken Roczen took the win on a track he’s very familiar with. Tomac was unable to even be a threat to his stateside rival from this past summer, but still grabbed a solid fourth-place finish in his first ride for Team USA.
MX2 Qualifying Podium
- Ken Roczen – Germany
- Dean Ferris – Australia
- Jeremy van Horebeek – Belgium
In the final qualifying moto of the day, the MX3/Open division, featuring primarily 450cc bikes, completed the overall qualifying efforts for each of the 41 teams. Barcia did what he needed to do, securing a second-place finish behind Team Belgium’s Clement Desalle, the World Motocross Championship runner-up.
MX3/Open Qualifying Podium
- Clement Desalle – Belgium
- Justin Barcia – USA
- Tanel Leok – Estonia
The Motocross of Nations rules eliminate the lowest score of the three qualifying finishes for each team, resulting in a surprise winner on Saturday afternoon in Team Australia. With Dungey and Barcia’s 2-2 scores, it was Metcalfe’s triumphant effort in MX1 that proved to be the difference maker as he and Dean Ferris combined to edge out their American rivals 3 to 4.
Nevertheless, Team USA’s quest for redemption is off to a strong start while their most formidable foes, Team Belgium and Team Germany, qualified third and fourth, respectively.
Sunday’s final trio of motos will combine each of the three divisions equally in head-to-head competition. Broadcast coverage of the Motocross of Nations is available stateside. Check your local listings.