In the post-race press conference following the opening round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross at Hangtown, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac said he would compete for Team USA at this year’s Motocross of Nations at RedBud if selected. “Yup, I’d be in,” he said at the time.
Last night, while appearing on the PulpMX Show, Tomac again confirmed he would race the MXoN this year. “Yes, I will do it,” he said. “Yes, I will do it. Final answer. Yes, I will do it.”
The Motocross of Nations is later in the year compared to previous years and takes place one week before the Monster Energy Cup. Monster, obviously, is a big-time sponsor of Tomac and the team, so Tomac is going to race that event, as well. Steve Matthes asked Eli about it. “Yeah, but, we’re just gonna have to deal with it. It’s just part of it.”
Tomac got a bunch of heat for opting out of the race for the second year in a row last year. He cited the brutally long schedule he had, which included the USGP and the Monster Energy Cup. “We have to go race USGP, and then you have two weekends off then you make your way to England, and then a couple weeks after that you have Monster Cup,” he said at the time. “For us, and for me, it’s like… we’ve been racing since the first weekend in January, and you’re basically putting yourself through the meat grinder all the way through the middle of October.”
Two factors probably helped Tomac’s decision this year: 1) The race is in the U.S., which cuts out a long travel schedule and makes for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to race a 'Nations on U.S. soil, and 2) there is no USGP this year.
When the 2018 MXGP calendar was announced, without a USGP on it, Youthstream's Giuseppe Luongo made mention that removing the extra American race should make it easier for the top American riders to find time to race Motocross of Nations.
Tomac also opted out of the 2016 Motocross of Nations, citing the two USGPs he was required to race after a season that included 17 supercross and 12 motocross rounds.
“I think if I had just done our normal American series with 17 rounds of supercross and 12 rounds of motocross, I would have went to des Nations, but I have to race GPs and I’m not just going to put myself through the meat grinder from January through October and not have any time off and just go right back to the supercross track. So it gets pretty long if you add in all those events,” he said at the time.
Tomac has previously ridden for Team USA twice. In 2014, he raced Open and went 3-6. Team USA, which also featured Ryan Dungey and Jeremy Martin, finished third overall. He was logging a heroic charge from way back in the pack when he stalled his bike late in the race, preventing a chance for the team to dig out a win. The year prior, Tomac raced MX2 for the team and went 2-16 after a crash while battling Ken Roczen for the lead in the second moto. The team of Tomac, Justin Barcia, and Ryan Dungey finished second overall.