The 65th edition of the Motocross des Nations competition began with Ryan Dungey taking the win in the MX1 qualifying moto at Saint Jean D’Angely, France. Dungey spent most of the race trading fastest laps with newly crowned MX1 champion, Antonio Cairoli, who finished second in the contest for Team Italy.
“Practice went good and we made a couple of small changes – a few clicks – for the rest of the day and when the track dried, it worked out,” said Dungey. “I took the holeshot, made some good laps and felt comfortable. We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow but I’m feeling good.”
Meanwhile Christophe Pourcel rounded out the podium in third for France as the 23-year-old finished more than 46 seconds off the pace of the leader. Aussie Chad Reed mustered a fourth-place result after being outpaced by Pourcel early on, with South African Tyla Rattray taking fifth just under two seconds behind Reed.
“I am having a lot of fun riding the big bike,” said Rattray. “It still is a learning experience and I know my class is really stacked with talent, so overall I’m happy with my result. The track will be pretty gnarly for my final race of the day since it’s the last one on the track, but I think it will suit me well.”
2011 Motocross des Nations MX1 Qualifying Results:
1. Ryan Dungey (Suzuki) 23:46.461
2. Antonio Cairoli (KTM) 23:47.769
3. Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki) 24:32.886
4. Chad Reed (Honda) 24:39.239
5. Tyla Rattray (Kawasaki) 24:41.125
6. Rui Goncalves (Honda) 24:45.760
7. Tanel Leok (TM) 24:47.858
8. Evgeny Bobryshev (Honda) 24:48.031
9. Tommy Searle (Kawasaki) 25:15.711
10. Jonathan Barragan (Kawasaki) 25:18.531
11. Yoshitaka Atsuta (Suzuki) 25:20.715
12. Antti Pyrhonen (Honda) 23:49.717
13. Gunter Schmidinger (Honda) 23:54.054
14. Filip Neugebauer (Kawasaki) 23:57.058
15. Marcello Ferreira (Kawasaki) 23:58.497
The day continued to get even better for USA as Blake Baggett, the squad’s newest asset, grabbed the win in the qualifying race for the MX2 division. The 19-year-old had a wire-to-wire victory after getting a solid start to win by more than eight seconds ahead of France’s Marvin Musquin.
“I am really liking this track,” said Baggett. “It feels like home in California the way the dirt has been. It was great to get the holeshot because I haven’t been the best at starts at the past few races. I felt good the entire race and it really is getting me excited for the race on Sunday.”
Great Britain’s Dean Wilson finished third after putting in a great defensive ride to hold off Germany’s Ken Roczen in the final laps. Some of the key challengers in the division suffered from poor starts, so it will be interesting to see how the field stacks up when the gates drop on Sunday’s final MX2 race.
“I think the race went pretty good considering I’m still riding with a hurt wrist,” said Wilson. “After my crash during practice at Pala, my wrist has been hurting a bit, but I’ll be good. The track was getting a little rough. but I think that helped me push to the front. I’ll be resting tonight to hopefully put my team in a good position Sunday.”
2011 Motocross des Nations MX2 Qualifying Results:
1. Blake Baggett (Kawasaki) 24:45.804
2. Marvin Musquin (KTM) 24:54.680
3. Dean Wilson (Kawasaki) 24:57.135
4. Ken Roczen (KTM) 24:57.546
5. Joel Roelants (KTM) 25:20.847
6. Alessandro Lupino (Husqvarna) 25:41.054
7. Pascal Rauchenecker (KTM) 25:42.953
8. Kjer Olsen (Yamaha) 25:55.195
9. Antonio Butron (KTM) 26:01.347
10. Stuart Edmonds (TM) 26:02.554
11. Jeremy Seewer (Suzuki) 26:05.234
12. Tim Gajser (KTM) 26:12.199
13. Aleksandr Tonkov (Yamaha) 26:16.730
14. Prit Ratsep (Honda) 26:18.023
15. Ludvig Soderberg (Kawasaki) 26:18.264
The final moto of the day saw Ryan Villopoto emphasize America’s dominance in the competition by taking the win in the Open class qualifying heat ahead of Italy’s Davide Guarneri. RV quickly moved into the lead during the start and began separating himself from the field.
“I was the last moto and the track had deteriorated pretty bad,” said Villopoto. “I knew with our 1-1 going into the third race we were in and my goal was to get out there and to get some track time.”
France’s Gautier Paulin had a solid start to the contest but lost touch with Villopoto in the opening laps, allowing Guarneri to snag the runner-up position just past the halfway mark. Paulin, Belgium’s Kevin Strijbos and Australia’s Brett Metcalfe rounded out the top-five finishers.
“It was good but I need a better start,” commented Metcalfe. “The result was OK but I need to be better than that tomorrow. I found it difficult to pass on that track but the bike was working great after a few small adjustments. We will pick it up tomorrow.”
Ryan Villopoto rounded out USA’s perfect day in qualifying at Saint Jean D’Angely with total domination in the open class.
2011 Motocross des Nations Open Qualifying Results:
1. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki) 24:46.792
2. Davide Guarneri (Kawasaki) 24:54.496
3. Gautier Paulin (Yamaha) 24:55.500
4. Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki) 24:56.469
5. Brett Metcalfe (Suzuki) 24:57.962
6. Gareth Swanepoel (Yamaha) 25:11.641
7. Jeffrey Herlings (KTM) 25:12.830
8. Arnaud Tonus (Yamaha) 25:30.125
9. Carlos Campano (Yamaha) 25:32.339
10. Martin Michek (KTM) 25:39.753
11. Luis Correia (Yamaha) 25:41.190
12. Brad Anderson (Honda) 25:43.645
13. Krestinov Gert (Kawasaki) 25:46.846
14. Jimmy Albertson (Yamaha) 25:49.583
15. Hiroaki Arai (Kawasaki) 25:56.897
As a result of Team USA’s perfect performance in qualifying the team currently leads the series with just two points. Italy has picked up four points so far after dropping Alessandro Lupino’s sixth-place finish in the MX2 qualifying heat. Just one point behind Italy is France, who benefitted from strong performances by all three team members on the first day. Belgium and Australia are currently tied for fourth, with Reed and Metcalfe both scoring top-five finishes for Team Australia. Rattray and Gareth Swanepoel earned fifth and sixth respectively in their heats to keep South Africa inside the top-six heading into Sunday’s races. Meanwhile Great Britain suffered from a poor day of qualifying by Tommy Searle and Brad Anderson, leaving the team already 10 points behind the Americans.
2011 Motocross des Nations Team Qualifying Results:
1. USA – 2 points
2. Italy – 4 points
3. France – 5 points
4. Belgium – 9 points
5. Australia – 9 points
6. Republic of South Africa – 11 points
7. Great Britain – 12 points
8. Portugal – 17 points
9. Spain – 18 points
10. Switzerland – 19 points
Tomorrow’s racing action starts at approximately 12:58 p.m. local time with the MX1+MX2 motos.