Outgoing Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Ryan Dungey took the pole position for Sunday’s 65th Motocross of Nations by winning the MX1 class qualifying heat for Team USA on the hard-packed hillsides of St. Jean D’Angely, France.
Dungey defeated Italy’s World Champion Tony Cairoli (KTM) in the 20 minute, plus two-lap heat race, the first of three qualifying heat victories for the talent-packed American team. The gap was 1.3 secs.
“Practice went good and we made a couple of small changes – a few clicks – for the rest of the day and when the track dried, it worked out,” Dungey, who’s moving to KTM next year, said. “I took the holeshot, made some good laps and felt comfortable. We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow, but I’m feeling good.”
CLS/Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Chris Pourcel, riding for France, was 45 secs. back in third and one better than Australian team member Chad Reed. South African Tyla Rattray rode the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki to fifth.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Bagget won the MX2 qualification heat by almost nine seconds, which gave the American team the number one qualifying spot even before the final race.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto made it a clean sweep for Team USA by winning the MX3 heat. The recently crowned AMA 450 class champion beat Italian Kawasaki rider Davide Guarneri by nearly eight seconds. Frenchman Gautier Paul was third, on another Monster Energy Kawasaki, with Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki) fourth for Belgium, and Australian Brett Metcalfe (Suzuki) fifth.
With each of the 36 countries’ top two scores counting towards the overall qualifying order, Team USA was easily the best with two points. Next was Italy with four, followed by France with 5, while Belgium and Australia both finished with nine.