As luck would have it, despite being near the front in most practice sessions (Ryan Dungey was third, Jake Weimer was fifth, and Ivan Tedesco was sixth), Team USA drew the 33rd gate pick out of 36. The “other” AMA team, Team Australia, drew a much better pick, inside the top 10, but things didn’t go much better for them, either.
The other quirk to the day was that in the qualifying races, only the top two scores would count toward the team’s qualifying score for tomorrow.
In the MX1 race, Dungey got a predictably bad start from his 33rd gate and had to come through the pack on the tricky, rutted, muddy circuit. He actually rounded the first lap in 13th, but started much farther back even than that. UK’s Billy Mackenzie got the holeshot and led the first five laps before giving way to the charging Antonio Cairoli, the MX1 world champ from Italy, who first had to carefully find a way by Belgium’s Clement DeSalle, who has been giving Cairoli fits for most of the end of the MX1 season. Australia’s Chad Reed actually started near the front, but ran into trouble on the first lap and handed second to DeSalle and third to Cairoli. He recovered late in the race to grab third place after Mackenzie went down.
Cairoli, however, ran away with it once he got out front. DeSalle hung on for second, Reed third, and Josh Coppins was fourth, just in front of a charging Ryan Dungey. Dungey grabbed fifth in the moto and was still moving forward, seemingly quicker at the end of the race, either because of his physical conditioning, or because he was continuing to adapt to the bike or track, or some combination thereof.
South Africa’s Gareth Swanepoel, who held up Dungey for quite a few laps, finished sixth, with France’s Steven Frossard sixth, Spain’s Jonathan Barragan seventh, Switzerland’s Julien Bill eighth, and Russia’s Evgeny Bobryshev was 10th. Mackenzie ended up 13th.
After some track maintenance, mainly to the first turn, the MX2 class took to the line, and French MX2 world champ Marvin Musquin grabbed the lead at the start and took off. It was never really close. Second early on went to Belgium’s Joel Roelants over Portugal’s Rui Goncalves, Switzerland’s Arnaud Tonus, Australia’s Brett Metcalfe, Finland’s Eero Remes, Britain’s Tommy Searle, Netherlands’ Jeffrey Herlings, and then finally, after one lap, came USA’s Jake Weimer. Weimer was much further back at the start but picked his way through smartly in the opening lap.
While Musquin took off, Weimer worked his way up into the top five, and just before getting the two-to-go board, Weimer was working on Metcalfe for fourth when he pushed the front end over a berm and went down. He got up in, and finished, eighth.
At the finish, Musquin took the win over Searle, Roelants, Metcalfe, South Africa’s Tyla Rattray, Goncalves, Herlings, Weimer, German sensation Ken Roczen, and Italy’s Davide Guarneri.
Then came the MX3 moto. From pretty far outside (although not nearly as far outside as the USA had been all afternoon), Italy’s former world champ David Philippaerts took the holeshot over France’s Gautier Paulin, Belgium’s Steve Ramon, Britain’s Shaun Simpson and the rest of the field. Somehow, almost miraculously, Tedesco came away fifth after the first two turns and began to work on Simpson while Philippaerts, riding on his home soil, pulled away from Paulin.
Tedesco was working on Simpson when he went down about halfway through the race, but he got back up in fifth, just much farther back. With about four laps to go, Tedesco came under fire from Estonia’s Tanel Leok, who set the fastest time of the day in practice, and the resulting quicker pace put Tedesco back on Simpson’s rear wheel on the last lap, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Philippaerts took the win over Paulin, Ramon, Simpson, Tedesco, Leok, Australia’s Michael Byrne (who ran sixth for most of the race before giving way to Leok), Spain’s Carlos Campano, Brazil’s Antonio Balbi Jr., and Germany’s Max Nagl.
Now, here’s where it gets kind of funny: Had they included all three results for qualifying, Belgium would’ve been the number-one qualifier with a 2-3-3 score for eight total points, ahead of France’s 10 points (1-2-7), Italy’s 12 (1-1-10), Australia’s 14 (3-4-7), USA’s 18 (5-5-8), Great Britain’s 19 (2-4-13), etc.
However, after dropping the worst scores, Italy was awarded the number-one seed with two points (1-1) over France’s three points (1-2), Belgium’s five points (2-3), Britain’s six points (2-4), Australia’s seven points (3-4) and USA’s 10 points (5-5).
And that’s the order they will line up in tomorrow, most likely with the MX2 guys on the inside in every race they’re in, so Italy will have the first and 21st picks, with France having second and 22nd, Belgium third and 23rd, etc. All of the teams outside of the top 20 will race the B final tomorrow as well, and Canada just got below that, qualifying 20th out of the 20 teams they took today.
4. Great Britain
7. South Africa
8. New Zealand