It’s that time of year again! In just a few days, the event every motocross enthusiast awaits, the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations will burst into life for the 68th year in succession. After touching down in the Baltic region of Europe, we can already feel the intense buzz surrounding the event. It has been a life-long dream for the tiny nation of Latvia, home to around two million people, to host the mega-prestigious Motocross of Nations, now they have it and they are doing their utmost to make it as spectacular as years before.
The circuit, known to the locals as ‘Zelta Zirgs’, nestled in Kegums, is one of the most visually attractive circuits in the world. But while it looks super sweet with its caramel colored sand, perfectly formed jumps and lovely rolling wave sections, it has proven in the past to be anything but! As its hard base and soft surface becomes increasingly choppy and extremely deceiving throughout the course of the day.
It is certain the track will test the best, which is what is required to ensure that the best team from the staggering forty-two nations entered will win. Speaking of teams, starting with the defending champions Team Belgium. If the three representing the land of beer and chocolate, Jeremy Van Horebeek - MXGP vice world champion, Kevin Strijbos - MXGP bronze medalist, and young gun Julien Lieber, who recently changed teams and throttled his way to an outstanding fourth place in the final MX2 world championship race of the year, ride to their potential, there is every chance they can retain the coveted Chamberlain Trophy. If they do so, they will match Great Britain who sits second in terms of ‘the most’ MXoN victories with a new total of 16.
Meanwhile, last year’s runners up, Team USA is quite possibly more eager than ever to snatch back the MXoN title. Each and every year, Team USA carries the weight of the world on their shoulders, as the most successful team in the history of ‘The Nations’ with a whopping 22 victories over the last 67 years, and by far the most populated country in attendance; they are almost always expected to win. This years’ soldiers, all armed and set to stand on the front line and proudly represent the stars and stripes, Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac and America’s latest 250 sensation, Jeremy Martin. Dungey will be out to fire-back at the harsh criticism he has received over his recent MXoN outings, while it is expected Tomac will be lethal and should enjoy the soft surface as he is said to be an avid sand rider. The dark horse of the team is the rookie, Jeremy Martin. All we know about Martin is that he carved up in the AMA 250 championship this year winning seven of the twelve rounds!
One of the most intriguing aspects of MXoN 2014 will be Team Italy’s eight-time FIM Motocross World Champion Antonio Cairoli lining up in MX2! While Cairoli hasn’t raced an MX2 bike in a very long time, there is no doubt he still has the potential to win. With the support of fellow MXGP stars, the former FIM MX1 World Champion David Philippaerts and Davide Guarneri, Team Italy could in fact find themselves uncorking bottles of bubbly on the box for the second year in succession.
Germany and Australia are two teams that have taken a couple of blows to their ‘A’ teams, which means both will attend with less experienced, yet strong plan B squads. Starting with Australia, last year’s fourth place finishers. The Aussies are coming in this year with a completely different team to last year. Last year’s team of Brett Metcalfe, Dean Ferris and Todd Waters, who blew everyone away when they qualified on pole at what was the biggest and greatest MXoN ever, fell to pieces with Waters and Ferris out with injuries and Metty experiencing some other problems. Meanwhile, word on the street is Germany’s twenty-year old motocross sensation Ken Roczen couldn’t make it due to visa issues, and then their MX2 rider Marcus Schiffer had a gnarly crash last weekend while racing his national championship, sustaining severe injuries to his neck, collarbone and hand.
Although both Australia and Germany have caught a tough break, both teams have one thing going for them. They both are led by legends of today. Australia, made up of Matt Moss and MXoN rookie Luke Clout, will be led by none other than Chad Reed, while Team Germany’s Dennis Ullrich and MXoN rookie Henry Jacobi will be led by MXGP’s most recent dominating force, Max Nagl.
When the selection was made for Team France, a few eyebrows were undoubtedly raised with the newly crowned FIM MX2 World Champion Jordi Tixier off the list. While there are people who don’t understand this choice, the selection that has been made is still just as good. What’s going for the team of Gautier Paulin, Steven Frossard and Dylan Ferrandis is the team dynamic. These three riders are all good buddies off the track. They ride together, train together and laugh together, which will mean they will be lining up in good spirits with a plan and tactic to help each other get France to the top step of the podium.
Last but not least, Team Great Britain. What a team they have this year! A lot of hype is surrounding the Brits with the trio of Tommy Searle, Shaun Simpson and Dean Wilson being pegged to steal back the Chamberlain Cup, which hasn’t seen British soil since 1994. Although it is bizarre that Searle will race MX2 after racing the entire season in MXGP, and vice versa for Wilson who will race Open, they are confident they know what they are doing and that’s all that matters.