Numbers of 50-60,000 are being talked about for the spectator roll-out as Teutschenthal opened the gates on the 67th Motocross of Nations and rarely has the “sunken” circuit a short distance from the city of Halle looked more immaculate. Winner of the final MX1 Grand Prix of the year, Team Great Britain’s Shaun Simpson, commented that he had never seen the German hard-pack so well prepped and groomed. Some major revisions to the old-school layout (see banked turns, narrow sections and a fast flow) meant the Talkessel track has fully modernised and is ready to rip. The standout feature is the bottleneck first turn that will reward outright horsepower and reaction over positioning. It will be fascinating to see how the forty-strong field will find their way around the opening curve and then sort themselves out around a course that is traditionally tricky for overtaking.New colours, numbers and liveries were wheeled out today as the Nations again hoisted itself as a fanciful showcase when it comes to motocross custom paint jobs. Our favourite pick was the flowery design on the Suzuki RM-Z450 of Japan’s Yohei Kojima. Creative!
As the atmosphere built in Germany, there was plenty going on. The first press conferences of the weekend saw Youthstream unveiling new website and digital magazine projects for the FIM Motocross World Championship before nine of the top teams – Germany, Belgium, USA, Holland, Italy, Russia, Great Britain, Australia and France – chatted about their expectations, hopes and nerves.
Massive crowds are expected in Germany.
Simon Cudby photo
Team Germany commented on the adrenaline effect of the crowd and the backing on the packed slopes will be a key element of support for Max Nagle, Dennis Ullrich and Ken Roczen. The champions spoke of the podium but realistically they know the USA are favourites for a 23rd Chamberlain trophy lift.
“Last year we wrote it off as a bad weekend,” said Ryan Dungey who faced some hefty air travel delays to get to Germany and now needs to tackle MX1 World Champ Tony Cairoli in MX1. “We got third so it wasn't terrible and we took something from it. This year I’ve been really looking forward to this event and Justin and Eli are good teammates and good guys. Being on the winning team is definitely a better feeling.”
“Last year was a huge challenge for us but this looks a bit more like a U.S. track and the dirt seems awesome. There are some big jumps to go out there and have fun on,” commented Justin Barcia (MX Open class). “We just need to try for those holeshots and win motos.”
“I’ve been overseas before so that part of it is not totally new but being on the team and working as a team is,” commented Nations rookie Eli Tomac, going up against Ken Roczen again in the MX2 class. “I’m really excited. The track looks really good.”
Teutschenthal has undergone some major revisions.
Simon Cudby photo
Tomac was then part of a comprehensive 6D helmet presentation where their innovative safety system – illustrated with Zach Bell’s Dallas Supercross crash “escape” – was outlined to a European audience before Tony Cairoli then chatted about his new Neox goggle brand that will be formally presented at the huge EICMA motorcycle show in Milan in November.
Rounding off the afternoon was a zany lawnmower racing activity by Monster Energy that saw Gautier Paulin and other “claw” athletes like Dean Ferris and Alessandro Lupino get a drift on the insanely powerful machines in the depths of the Teutschenthal parking zone. The fanciful Frenchman was the fastest in the chair! Paulin, who has won Nations motos in 2009 and 2011 is maybe due some more glory if the pattern remains.
Many more updates to come throughout the weekend, as the rest of the Racer X crew, like Steve Matthes and JT, are fighting back the jetlag to take this all in. Should be a great weekend.
Update @6:34 EST. Tony Cairoli speaks!
Among the details to spout forth from the first day of the Motocross of Nations in Germany was the FIM MX1 World Champion Tony Cairoli’s reversion to his four time title-winning 350SX-F Red Bull KTM over the 450 used to win one of the motos at Lierop for the final Grand Prix of the series three weeks ago.
Cairoli, who won the 2012 Grand Prix at Teutschenthal from ‘wild-card’ Ken Roczen last September on an older but not radically different motorcycle, claimed that the 350 was the preferred choice for the fast Talkessel hard-pack. “I’m using the 350 here again,” the Sicilian said. “I’m in good shape and I just thought the 350 would be better for Team Italy to try and get out front and get the best points.”
Cairoli – the MX1 class champion from the 2012 Nations in Lommel - admitted that he will be testing the factory 2014 450SX-F throughout the winter and therefore hasn’t ruled out using the bike for the GP season next year. Even though the champ nailed a number of holeshots in the 2013 campaign and his symbiosis with KTM’s MX1 350cc game-changer has been one of the key components in his domination of the MX1GP category for the last four years.
Keep a watch on Cairoli as ‘222’ lines up with the improving Alessandro Lupino (MX2) and former Teutschenthal winner (2007) and first Italian MX1 Champion (2008) David Philippaerts for the squad that will be one of the outside bets for the podium on Sunday. “[The Nations] is something really special with people coming from all over the world. It is amazing for everyone that is riding and for me it means a lot,” he remarked.