The world’s best motocross racers are getting psyched-up for the return of one of the biggest events of the year – the Motocross des Nations. This year Saint Jean D’Angely, France will host the 65th running of MXoN with 35 countries being represented by more than 100 riders. The Unites States will call upon the collective talent of newly crowned motocross champion Ryan Villopoto and teammates Ryan Dungey and Blake Baggett to bring home America’s seventh consecutive victory and its 22nd title at the world-wide competition. Originally scheduled for September 24-25, the event had to be pushed a week ahead of schedule in an attempt to avoid conflict with the World Endurance series. With the 2011 AMA Pro Motocross Championship coming to a close this past weekend, Team U.S.A. faces a sense of urgency to get settled overseas and continue its world domination in the sport of motocross.
Team USA has long dominated the podium at MXoN, but in 2011 several countries will gain major title contenders.
The United States is no stranger to pressure at MXoN. Last year Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard and Andrew Short stepped up big time to overcome early setback and secure one of the most memorable wins in the series. This year Dungey returns to campaign the MX1 class – making it his third straight appearance at Motocross des Nations. It was recently announced that Dungey is parting ways with Suzuki, but before his tenure is up he’ll notch one final performance on the yellow bike at Saint Jean D’Angely with his former team manager, Roger DeCoster, who heads USA’s efforts again.
“This is a really good team with Ryan Villopoto and Blake Baggett,” Dungey said. “To go with that, we have a great group of people behind us. We all know how to work together, and we’re building a great partnership – that’s what it takes to do well at this event.”
Some of the strongest competition American riders will face comes from the newly crowned MX1 champion, Antonio Cairoli. Last year the Italian ranked second behind Dungey and was a constant threat throughout the event. In an unfortunate turn of events Cairoli recently lost his mother, who died after an
In recent years Antonio Cairoli has performed well at the competition and will head Team Italy in the MX1 class.
extended illness on September 9th. It remains to be seen how this tragic event will affect his performance this weekend.
RV is in one of the best positions leading up to the battle after posting his second championship title in 2011. The 23-year-old is poised to cap it all off with a victory for his country, which Villopoto is more than capable of doing. Look for him to really bring the pressure in France as he aims to dominate the MX3 Open class aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki.
“I’m really happy to be back on the team after being injured the past two years,” Villopoto said. “It was hard to watch and not be able to have the chance to race the event. As long as we all go out there and ride how we’ve been riding this season, I think we have a great shot at winning.”
Monster Energy Yamaha’s Steven Frossard has already been counted out for the event after chest scans revealed an air bubble in his lungs which has since caused an infection. The hometown favorite for this year’s MXoN recently won his maiden MX1 victory in Italy, but will be forced to the sidelines where he’ll watch teammates Gautier Paulin and Marvin Musquin compete for the Open and MX2 titles, respectively. Meanwhile, Frenchman Christophe Pourcel has been chosen to fill Frossard’s seat in the premier class.
This year South African Tyla Rattray and British rider Tommy Searle will return to the world stage, but this time around it’ll be in the MX1 class. The duo was last seen competing together in the 2008 MX2 Championship where Rattray narrowly bested Searle for the title after an extremely heated battle. While Searle recently netted some experience aboard a 450 machine in England, it will be a new upgrade for Rattray – who just finished second overall in the 250 AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Monster Energy Yamaha’s Steven Frossard (above) will be replaced by Frenchman Christophe Pourcel (below).
As if the MX1 class wasn’t already stacked, the addition of Chad Reed to Team Australia is almost sure to spark some of the best racing of the year. There is no better time for the ’09 AMA Pro Motocross champ to reclaim his status as one of the most formidable outdoor opponents and forget about his latest struggles then at this year’s MXoN.
“As an athlete, regardless of the sport, there is no higher honor then to represent your country at the highest level,” Reed said. “I know it’s going to be tough but I think with the quality we have a podium finish should be our aim.”
The MX2 division will see 19-year-old Baggett visit Motocross of Nations for the first time in his young career. One of the chief reasons El Chupacabra was picked to ride for U.S.A. in this year’s competition is his ability to come from behind – which proved essential in USA’s victory last year. Since starts rarely give 250cc riders an advantage, Baggett’s determination and endurance will be key to America’s success in the MX2 class.
“For sure, I think this will be a cool experience against a bunch of guys I’ve never raced against before,” Baggett said. “The GPs are a little unfamiliar to me, as well as who is fast over there, so it will be exciting. Also, racing the 250s on the track with the 450s should be fun. Hopefully we can impress quite a few people and bring the trophy home to the USA.”
Meanwhile the 2011 250 AMA Motocross champion, Dean Wilson, will offer stiff resistance for Great Britain. Wilson had the highest finishing average in the entire AMA Pro Motocross series – making him both consistent and capable of winning. Some of the other contenders in MX2 include Germany’s Ken Roczen, Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek and France’s Musquin just to name a few.
Qualifying for each class will take place Saturday with races on Sunday. Stay tuned to MotoUSA for updates.
Tickets for the 2011 MXoN are available at www.motocross-of-nations.com.