This is it, folks. The grand kahuna. The one we have all been waiting for. The 2022 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations has returned to the USA for the first time since 2018. While I don’t like to dwell on that painful October day, I have been waiting on this return like a kid counting down the days until Christmas. RedBud MX feels like a natural host for this event and will once again impress. The Ritchie family rolls out the red carpet for both foreign and domestic motocross fans. There may not be a better venue worldwide for this event when considering all factors. Sure, I’m biased to having this event in the USA, but with the sheer size of America’s population coupled with the everyday convenience that the USA provides, how can it not be? With the weather looking like it will finally cooperate (it has rained every year since 2017), this could truly be an all timer.
Tim Ritchie took a lot of flak for “adding sand” to the RedBud course in 2018. Whether he did or didn’t will forever be debated, but I would like to mention that the softer areas of the racetrack may have been underwater without sandier soil. Adding dry soil to an incredibly muddy track is common practice worldwide. Team USA was beaten straight up in 2018, regardless of any other variable. This year will be the same dynamic. If Team USA wins or gets 10th, racing encompasses several factors that contribute to the result. It’s raining? That is always going to be a part of racing. One of the team riders crashes in the first corner? Yep, that’s going to happen, also. Win or lose this year, I will not be making excuses for Team USA. Winning is earned, not given. Just because we have a strong team and are racing on home soil won’t save us. Our team will need to execute. The other teams will be strong and they have momentum on their side for this event. The aura of Team USA has lost a bit of its shine. Two-thousand-twenty-two is a great opportunity to whip out the Turtle Wax and buff out the imperfections we have perpetuated since 2011.
One of the keys for this event will always be the starting gate strategy. Which rider to give the inside gate is a question that is asked maybe more than anything else. I am a fan of giving the MX2 rider the inside gate provided he is a good starter. If the MX2 starter is a poor starter on average, wasting the inside gate is a dire move. A poor starter won’t benefit much from a good gate but thankfully for Team USA, Justin Cooper is one of the most proficient starters in the history of the 250 class. If Team USA can qualify well, a solid start from the inside for Cooper could really help start the day off on the right foot. With Tomac and Sexton’s starts both at an all-time high this year, they could very likely start inside the top ten from the middle gates (assuming USA is top 3 in qualifying, we would have gates 1-3 for Cooper and then 21-23 for the 450 rider). This is a critical step in winning the Motocross of Nations so watch for gate choice and each country’s strategy here.
Team France has been very strong at this event for the last decade. Their strategic decision making, and defined process has paid dividends. They have had the most cohesive team at the event.
Australia is coming in with arguably their best team ever. We know that the Lawrence brothers are ready to go but I think many will be surprised at Mitch Evans’ current level. If this were sports betting, the sharp money might be pouring into those down under. If there are any questions to answer, they would be in Evans lack of RedBud experience and Jett’s unfamiliarity with the 450.
Team USA hasn’t won this event since 2011 but this is the best team its had since the disappointing 2018 showing. Winning at home won’t come easy but this isn’t supposed to be easy. Team USA has a realistic chance to have the #1 rider in each division, though, and that’s a big coup for this event.
The Dutch looooove gold (Austin Powers) and that’s evident in their recent record at this event. The glaring absence of Jeffrey Herlings might be too much to overcome but they are a serious dark horse threat this year. If Kay De Wolf can get a good MX2 score, watch out for those in bright orange.
Rain clouds. They can take a long walk off a short bridge.
The FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX) drops a PR on Sunday morning of MXoN, sharing plans to add a fourth round on an outer moon of Uranus.
Team USA draws 34th in the qualifying ballot and I begin to drink heavily.
Netflix is on site to film their upcoming documentary “How to Survive Lot B.”
The Pit Bike of Nations event is unwound by a drug test in which 87 percent of participants test positive.
Team USA (Godspeed)
Main image by Andrew Fredrickson