Switzerland announced today that Valentin Guillod (MXGP), Arnaud Tonus (Open) and Jeremy Seewer (MX2) will represent the country at the 2016 Motocross of Nations. Tonus, currently riding for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki in the United States, will move up to the 450 for the event.
Despite the loss of Tonus (illness) last year in France, Switzerland, behind the efforts of Seewer and Guillod, finished fifth overall.
In recent years, the Swiss have become everyone’s favorite dark horse to podium at the ‘Nations. In 2014, Racer X European Contributor Adam Wheeler tried to explain the rise of a nation of only 8.29 million people in the sport of motocross despite not holding a GP since 2001 prior to this year.
Is there an explanation for this Swiss surge? Tonus himself believes that the national 85cc supercross series that ran through the beginning of the last decade helped raise the technical level of a generation of Swiss juniors across the country. Guillod was among his peers in the competition that used to culminate at the Geneva Supercross; one of the biggest winter indoor meetings in Europe.
While the nation could count on a rider like Julien Bill to catch attention in the now defunct MX3 (and can look back to the likes of Philippe Dupasquier for 125cc GP podiums) Tonus also credits the influencing style and speed of a rider like Marc Ristori, who tried to make a name for himself in Grand Prix until an unfortunate racing accident ended his career in 2007 at the age of 26. Guillod attempted MX2, did not shine at first, but then found the right guidance and advice under the eye of former GP winner Yves Demaria and has short-shifted his career upwards.
Thomas Ramsbacher, team manager of the Rockstar Suzuki Europe team and the man that nurtured and unveiled Ken Roczen to the world, believed that Seewer’s proximity to the German rather than the French side of the country helped the teenager’s early skill in national races across the border turn heads.
This year may be Switzerland’s best chance to podium as Seewer has risen to the top ranks of MX2 (currently second behind Herlings), Tonus is finally healthy and Guillod is full-time in MXGP (he's currently seventh in MXGP standings in his first full year).
Switzerland will certainly have its challenges though, as France, the United States, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Italy and Russia have all announced strong contingents for the event set to take place in Italy on September 24-25.