10 Things to Watch: Motocross of Nations

10 Things To Watch Motocross of Nations

September 27, 2013 2:40pm

By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt

Ages Ago
Once a dominating figure in the Motocross des Nations—winning six of the first eight—Great Britain has only one title (1994) since 1967. Even more stunning, the Brits haven’t podium since Kurt Nicoll, Mark Eastwood and James Dobb finished third in Nismes, Belgium, in 1997. The podium streak nearly came to an end in 2010 when Dean Wilson led the team to a fourth place finish—just a point shy of Germany—and again in 2011 when Tommy Searle and company finished two points behind Australia. Can Searle lead the Brits back to the podium? – Chase Stallo

Long History
Including the Trophee des Nations, only the United States (26) has won the Peter Chamberlain Trophy more times than the Belgians (23). But not since a Stefan Everts led squad captured the championship in 2004 at Lierop has the Western European country held the trophy. (Note: The United States did not send a team in 2004.) Belgium returns all three members from the team that suffered a devastating defeat on home soil to Germany, and are considered as the most formidable foe to the U.S. Can Clement Desalle, Ken de Dycker and Jeremy van Horebeek exact revenge? – Chase Stallo

Tommy Searle hopes to lead the Brits to the podium for the first time since 1997.
Sarah Gutierrez photo

Le French
Although they don’t process the history of Great Britain and Belgium—only one title in 67 runnings—France has been a verified title contender over the last decade. In 2001, with Team USA not competing following the attacks of 9/11, David Vuillemin helped France to its first title in Namur, Belgium. France nearly won their second title on home soil in 2011, but fell short to the United States. The French youth movement is being ushered in, as they will swap veterans Xavier Boog and Marvin Musuqin for young stars Jordi Tixier and Christophe Charlier. Replacing Musquin has drawn heavy skepticism from the U.S. and abroad, but with Gautier Paulin as their catalyst, the French are hoping talent can overcome inexperience.  – Chase Stallo

Under the Radar
For smaller European countries, fielding a competitive three-man team in unmanageable. But many of these same countries feature one, or two, contenders. Last year, Estonia’s Tanel Leok was an MXoN revelation, as his 2-4 performance led to a seventh place overall finish. Strong individual performances can sway a borderline top ten contender across the line. This year Cody Cooper (New Zealand), Harri Kullas (Finland), Jose Butron (Spain), Rui Goncalves (Portugal) Leok (Estonia) and others are hoping their performances can carry their respective countries. – Chase Stallo

All in the Wrist
Germany pulled through in the sand last year, and now finds itself on home soil as defending champions. You can all but guarantee a great performance from Ken Roczen, but the rest of the team is shrouded in doubt. Throughout his career, Max Nagal has always been fast, but injuries have hampered him, and hand and wrist issues this year have been a real problem. Marcus Schiffer is out altogether, replaced by Dennis Ullrich. But Germany, which not only won last year but nearly pulled off the upset at Colorado in 2010, knows the road to the trophy: Roczen kills it, Nagl contends inside the top five, and the MX3 entrant (Ullrich this year) brings home one decent result. The formula has worked before, but it will all hinge on Nagl’s ability to get to the front. – Jason Weigandt

Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac will battle for MX2 supremacy in Germany.
Simon Cudby photo

Meet Metty
Brett Metcalfe’s march back to the elite pack of the sport continues with the MXoN. Now more than a year removed from a massive crash that ended his 2012 season early and cost him a factory ride in the U.S. Metty holds a Canadian National Championship and showed in brief American appearances that he still has speed. Metty, who will wear #28 this weekend, will relish the chance to show what he has again. – Jason Weigandt

The Russians Are Coming!
The old USSR actually has two Motocross des Nations victories, in 1968 and 1978. Those dudes were scary! We don’t expect this year’s Russian team to win it all, but they’re dark horse contenders. “Russian Bob” (Evgeny Bobryshev) is a proven winner on the GP circuit, Alexandr Tonkov showed good speed at times, and Evgeny Mikhaylov has upped his speed the last few years racing the Nationals here. If things break right, Russia could do well. – Jason Weigandt

Super Tony
He’s the undisputed champion of the GPs, and beginning to rack up “all-time” numbers. While Tony Cairoli’s Italian team might not be able to deliver the Chamberlain Trophy (although anything is possible here) no doubt a showdown between Cairoli and others—like Ryan Dungey—will be as thrilling to watch as the actual team battles. Hope that it materializes properly, because Antonio is wearing #13 this weekend! – Jason Weigandt

Ryan Dungey and Team USA look to get back to their winning ways in Germany.
Simon Cudby photo

Rookie V. Roczen
Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen put a whooping on the 250 pack this season, winning just about every race they were in, both indoors and out. Tomac proved best down the stretch outdoors, but home track advantage for Roczen could level things out, or even swing it back in his advantage. Watching these two battle each other while dueling the 450s could be one of the coolest things ever. – Jason Weigandt

Team USA
Okay, we’re trying to be real journalists here and offer equal time and space for every team, but we know any fan based in the U.S. cares way more about Team USA than all of the other teams combined. So here’s the ultimate thing to watch: Can Team USA get the Chamberlain Trophy back? – Jason Weigandt

Kind of America
If three riders on Team USA are not enough to quench your patriotic thirst, keep an eye on Team Puerto Rico, which, as usual, features two Americans. That’s Phil Nicoletti and Alex Martin this year. Sometimes Team PR doesn’t make the A Final, but it has in the past. If they make it in, save some cheer for Filthy and A-Mart. - Jason Weigandt