The 2009 American Motocross of Nations team was out in full dress at Perris Raceway yesterday to show off the new gear and graphics. Red Bull Honda’s Ivan Tedesco sported all-new Fox gear aboard his CRF450R, Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer showed off his blingin’ new Thor threads and KX250F graphics. The MXoN ride day also marked the first time we’ve seen Ryan Dungey on a 450. Fresh off two championships this year, Dungey has made the step up to the premier level, and the 2009 MXoN will be his first time competing aboard the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450.
For MX3 rider Ivan Tedesco, this will be his third bid at the MXoN, and he’s hoping to bring home yet another gold.
“I’m really excited,” Tedesco said. “We’ve won it both times I’ve gone over there. We had a strong team then and I feel like we have a strong team now. There’s no reason why we can’t win as long as we ride up to our capabilities.”
As the “veteran” of the team, Tedesco is helping Weimer and Dungey prepare for competing in their first MX of Nations, but Tedesco has plenty of confidence in his teammates.
“They’re professionals. They’ll adapt,” Tedesco commented. “They’ve both been riding good all year. As long as they ride up to their capabilities and none of us do anything dumb, I think we’ll be in the running for the win.”
As for MX2 rider Jake Weimer, it’s actually not his first time competing overseas, as he raced a Supercross in Italy two years ago. Weimer admits he’s feeling the pressure of representing the US in his first MXoN.
“You don’t want to be the one to go over there and throw it away for the country or anything like that,” Weimer said. “There is a little bit of pressure, but I feel confident that I can do what I need to do. Just focus the next couple weeks and get my riding and training in and just make sure that I’m ready. If I’m ready then it’s all I can do.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there and putting my best foot forward but I think one of the biggest things is just the energy and the hype of all the fans and the crowd. I think that’ll add to it and make it that much cooler.”
Although yesterday marked only his second day aboard a 450, Ryan Dungey will headline the US team in the MX1 division. Dungey explained why he waited so long to get on the RM-Z450.
“Coming into the season with the championship in mind, we were really close all season long,” Dungey said of his bid for the 250 AMA Motocross Championship. “There was really no breathing room. If things were a little different, I might have hopped on [the 450 sooner] and got some more time on it, but I just waited until the end of the season. I knew things were good. I’m going to try to build a good setting on it all the way into des Nations. Things are coming along really good.”
“I think he rides it well,” Tedesco commented of seeing Dungey on the 450. “Yesterday and today were his first days on the bike. I was kinda curious how he’s going to look, but he’s solid. He’s a professional and he’s a champion. He’ll adapt.”
US team manager Roger DeCoster also has the utmost confidence in Dungey, and talked about the decision to promote him to the 450 machine.
“We basically talked amongst each other with Mitch [Payton], and Davey Coombs was involved, also the AMA somewhat, and we feel that Ryan was the more dominant rider this year,” DeCoster said. “He won two championships. He won Supercross and he won in outdoors. So I feel that he deserves to be the number one guy.”
One thing everyone involved agrees on is who the heavy competition will be: Australia (Reed, Metcalfe and Byrne) and Italy (Cairoli, Guanneri and Philippaerts). And of course, no one is counting out the French or the Belgian teams.
The Americans have their work cut out for them, but the American team is optimistic heading into Autodromo Daniel Bonara in Franciacorta, Italy this October 4-5, where Dungey, Tedesco and Weimer will seek the 20th Motocross of Nations victory for Team USA.