More craziness in the first moto of the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations, but unlike yesterday's qualifying race, Team USA was spared from the drama. Frenchman Gautier Paulin put together another superb ride to pull away from the best of the MX1 and MX2 field and win the moto, and his teammate Dylan Ferrandis put in a clutch effor to make two passes on the final two laps and score 9th on his 250F. This puts France into the overall lead after the first of three motos.
But Team USA in right in the thick of it, just three points back. Ryan Dungey gated well, was passed quickly by Paulin, but rode steady and eventually took second place away from Russian Alex Tonkov. He held onto that spot for the rest of the race. The effort award goes to Jeremy Martin, who is riding with broken toes after a crash yesterday. He started about 19th and pushed all the way to 10th! Late in the race, Ferrandis passed him, which pushed France ahead of the US in the standings, but still Martin and the team will take an 11th--with broken toes--on the 250F. France leads the US by three points heading into moto two, for MX2 (250Fs) and Open riders. The US will have Eli Tomac in action, France will bring Steven Frossard out for the Open division.
Many were questioning France's decision not to use the likes of Musquin, Pourcel or Tixier for the event. So far, they're proving the naysayers wrong.
Rough start for some other favorites. Italy's Tony Cairoli was the first 250F rider on the track and pushing into the top five when he crashed and hurt his knee. He didn't finish the moto, but we hear he might return for moto two. Belgium had a decent result from Jeremy Van Horebeek (4th) but MX rider Julien Lieber only netted 15th. For the Brits, Tommy Searle was a solid 8th on his 250F and Shaun Simpson 13th.