PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX
Team USA: Ryan Dungey (7), Eli Tomace (8) and Justin Barcia (9).
For nearly 40 years now, there has been a rivalry between the FIM Motocross World Championship and the AMA National Supercross and Motocross Championships, and it has only intensified as the years drag by. Before the days of American dominance that began in the early 1980s, the dominant European racers would come Stateside regularly and compete against the upstart Americans in Trans-AMA races, Motocross Grands Prix, and even Motocross Nationals and Supercross events. Well, that doesn’t happen very often anymore. European racers who come to the U.S. today come to stay and compete solely in the AMA series. So now, the only real opportunity we get to see the top racers in Europe compete against the top racers in the U.S. is at the once a year Monster Energy Motocross of Nations.
It took until 1981 for Team USA to win the Motocross of Nations (formerly titled the Motocross des Nations) for the first time, but between 1981 and 2012 Team USA has been dominant, winning a record 22 times out of 32 events. Aoknd Team USA only competed in 29 of those 32 events.
The latest streak of wins for Team USA spanned from the 2005 event in Ernee, France, through the 2011 MXoN in St. Jean d’Angely, France. That streak of seven wins in a row ended last year in the brutal sand of Lommel, Belgium, where, for the first time in the history of the event, Team Germany’s Max Nagl, Ken Roczen and Marcus Schiffer won the coveted Chamberlain Trophy. Team USA could only muster third place on that faithful day a year ago, and they’re fired up to bring the Chamberlain Trophy back Stateside.
Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, Team USA is going to have to do battle without eight-time AMA National Champ Ryan Villopoto. The Monster Energy Kawasaki racer missed the event in 2012 with the same knee injury that kept him from racing the 2012 AMA National Motocross Championship. And this year, after once again proving himself to be the fastest man in the AMA, and likely on the planet, Villopoto will again miss the MXoN because of surgery to his foot.
This year’s event takes place on September 28-29 on the hard-packed dirt of Teutschenthal, Germany, where Team Germany gets the honor of running the numbers 1, 2 and 3 for the first time in history and in front of their home crowd.
Ken Roczen returns to his home soil to help Team Germany defend last year’s title.
1 Max Nagl MX1
2 Ken Roczen MX2
3 Dennis Ullrich Open
Team Manager: Hubert Nagl
Having never won the Motocross of Nations prior to 2012, Team Germany is in uncharted territory at the 2013 MXoN. They face not only defending their first-ever MXoN title, but doing it in their home country. Former MX2 World Champ Ken Roczen teams back up with MX1 competitor Max Nagl, and MXoN rookie Dennis Ullrich who is taking Marcus Schiffer’s place on the team due to injury. Roczen’s home in Germany is less than an hour away from the Teutschenthal track, and he’s actually going to play host to Team USA during the week prior to the race at the request of Team USA team manager (and Roczen’s KTM race-team manager) Roger DeCoster. There’s very little question about the capabilities of Nagl and Roczen, but Ullrich is the unknown at this year’s MXoN. This team’s success will likely hinge on Ullrich.
4 Ken de Dycker MX1
5 Jeremy van Horebeek MX2
6 Clement Desalle Open
Team Manager: Joel Smets
Ken de Dycker is perhaps the racer who, more than any other, put the nail in the coffin of Team USA in 2012. De Dycker is a physical giant in the motocross world. And early in one of the motos, he cut down on Team USA’s Justin Barcia as the two headed into a fast left-hander. Barcia tangled with de Dycker and went down when de Dycker didn’t move at all from the contact, breaking spokes on Barcia’s front wheel. Barcia’s front wheel locked up with two laps to go in the race, scoring a DNF for Team USA. Joining de Dycker is Jeremy van Horebeek. Although van Horebeek raced the MX1 class in 2013, he finished third in the MX2 World Championship in 2012. He’ll return to the MX2 class for the MXoN. And in the Open class, Clement Desalle anchors Team Belgium. Desalle is a constant threat to win in the MX1 World Championship and ran up front for a few rounds this summer in the AMA Motocross Nationals as well. Team Belgium, as always, will be strong.
Team USA is hungry to return the coveted Chamberlain trophy back to the U.S.
7 Ryan Dungey MX1
8 Eli Tomac MX2
9 Justin Barcia Open
Team Manager: Roger DeCoster
With Ryan Villopoto out due to a foot surgery, 2013 AMA Motocross and Supercross Series runner-up Ryan Dungey will once again serve as Captain for Team USA. Joining him is the 2013 AMA 250cc Motocross Champion Eli Tomac in MX2 and Justin Barcia in the Open class. Barcia finished third in the 2013 AMA 450cc Motocross Championship chase, and Tomac is the only MXoN rookie on the team. Team USA is expected to be the favorite to win the Chamberlain Trophy.
10 Marc de Reuver MX1
11 Glenn Coldenhoff MX2
12 Herjan Brakke Open
Team Manager: Marcel Hartman
The Netherlands team is unlikely to finish as high on the hard-pack of Teutschenthal as they did in the sand of Lommel in 2012, as the Netherlands are known for breeding amazing sand racers. And things look a bit bleaker than that for the Dutch in 2013, as the Netherlands’ top MX racer – current MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings – is going to miss the MXoN due to injury. The team did add Marc de Reuver as its MX1 racer less than a week ago, and he’s a very capable racer when his head is in the right place.
13 Antonio Cairoli MX1
14 Alessandro Lupino MX2
15 David Philippaerts Open
Team Manager: Thomas Traversini
Any team with the seven-time world champ Antonio Cairoli on it is going to be a threat at the Motocross of Nations. Add Alessandro Lupino in the MX2 class, where he’s often a podium threat, and GP veteran David Philippaerts – Italy should end up somewhere on the overall podium.
16 Gautier Paulin MX1
17 Jordi Tixier MX2
18 Christophe Charlier Open
Team Manager: Oliver Robert
France’s Gautier Paulin was in the running for the 2013 MX1 World Championship before an injury forced him out for a couple of rounds near the end of the series. Prior to that, however, the Frenchman won two GPs in a row – in Bulgaria and Portugal – and won the Italian GP as well. He’s won motos at the MXoN in the past, and he’s going to be a threat in Germany. Paulin is joined by this year’s MX2 runner up Jordi Tixier, and Christophe Charlier is jumping up from the MX2 class to take on the Open class for France. France is nearly always a contender at the MXoN, and this year should be no exception. Even after the controversial decision to leave former MX2 world champ Marvin Musquin – who races in the AMA – off of the team this year.
19 Gert Krestinov MX1
20 Erki Kahro MX2
21 Tanel Leok Open
Team Manager: Velko Biene
Estonia isn’t a very big country, but in terms of motocross they have some pretty fast guys on the line at the MXoN every year. Gert Krestinov competed in the MX3 World Championship in 2013, winning in the Netherlands and finishing fourth in the championship chase. In a bit of strategy, he’s racing MX1 even though that’s typically the class for each country’s fastest racer. Estonia’s fastest racer is Tanel Leok, who is racing in the Open class in the hopes of scoring better there than he would against the top MX1 racers. The unknown on Team Estonia is their MX2 racer Erki Kahro. Kahro scored points in the MX2 World Championship this year as well as in the AMA 250cc National Championship, so he’s got some speed. But whether or not it’s enough speed to put Estonia in the podium running is the question.
Tommy Searle is the front man for Team Great Britain.
22 Tommy Searle MX1
23 Jake Nicholls MX2
24 Shaun Simpson Open
Team Manager: Neil Prince
Tommy Searle is the star of a strong Team Great Britain. He won an MX1 moto this season, but had the win stripped away by a questionable penalty. In despite of the penalty, he finished a strong sixth overall in the championship. His teammate in the Open class, Shaun Simpson won the final GP of the year in the Dutch sand at the Grand Prix of Benelux, finishing the season ninth in the MX1 championship. And then there’s Jake Nicholls in the MX2 class. Nicholls had multiple podium finishes in the MX2 World Championship this year on his way to finish seventh in the championship. Great Britain has all of the ingredients to challenge for a podium at this year’s event.
25 Rui Goncalves MX1
26 Paulo Alberto MX2
27 Hugo Santos Open
Team Manager: Pedro Castro
Portugal is among the smallest countries taking part in the MXoN every year, but every year they send some very game racers. Rui Goncalves is a longtime GP veteran who always puts in good performances at the Motocross of Nations. MX2 racer Paulo Alberto is a GP part-timer who scores points whenever he shows up to race, and Open racer Hugo Santos is more of a Supercross specialist who gets along well on hard-pack tracks. They likely won’t challenge for a podium overall, but they’ll make life hard on some of the teams that are going to challenge for a podium.
28 Brett Metcalfe MX1
29 Dean Ferris MX2
30 Todd Waters Open
Team Manager: Gary Benn
Team Australia is missing its perennial team captain, Chad Reed, for 2013, but have no fear, Brett Metcalfe is here. Metcalfe was still healing up from an injury for the 2013 AMA Supercross Series and had trouble finding a Motocross-only ride for the AMA Nationals. So instead he headed to Canada and dominated the Canadian 450cc Nationals. When he showed up in the States to race, he was always near the front, just like always. Metcalfe is strong, and he’s joined by Dean Ferris in MX2. Ferris was a GP rookie this year, racing in the MX2 World Championship, but managed to finish a very strong sixth place in the championship, including multiple podium finishes and a brilliant 1-1 performance at the Grand Prix of Belgium. And then there’s Todd Waters. Waters isn’t well known on the international stage as of yet, but was dominant early in the 2013 Australian MX National Championship. Unfortunately an injury cost him late in the title chase, but he still finished second. In 2014, he’ll be racing the MX1 Grand Prix series full-time for Husqvarna, so someone has noticed in Europe. With a little bit of luck, Team Australia could grab its second-ever podium at this year’s MXoN.