A solid ride by the Belgians lands the team its first Chamberlain Trophy since 2004
During the Stateside press conference for Team USA at the final round of Lucas Oil Motocross Championship in Southern California, last month, Team USA manager Roger DeCoster expressed concern about Team Belgium’s chances for victory at the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations in Teutschenthal, Germany. When all was said and done today, the five-time World Motocross Champion, a Belgian himself, clearly knew what he was talking about.
On a sunny and windy day in Teutschenthal, the team of Ken De Dycker, Clement DeSalle and Jeremy Van Horebeek became the first Belgian team to hoist the fabled Chamberlain Trophy since 2004 in a drama-filled event where consistency was the key to victory. The Belgians topped Team USA, 27-30. Team Italy was third, with 33 points. Team Germany’s Ken Roczen also gave his home crowd a reason to celebrate, as he claimed his fourth consecutive MX2 individual win, while seven-time and reigning FIM MX1 World Motocross Champion Antonio Cairoli earned posted a two-moto sweep to claim the MX1 individual title.
Unfortunately for Team USA, two bad miscues ruined the team’s chances to assuage its defeat in Lommel, Belgium, last year. It started with a crash by Team USA rookie Eli Tomac while he was battling for the MX2 lead in Moto 1, the first of the three motos, and ended with teammate Justin Barcia’s failure to pass his way high enough up in the standings to unseat Team Belgium in Moto 3. In between was a mix of brilliant riding by both Honda men and a rather uninspiring performance by Ryan Dungey, who clearly struggled in both of his motos on the rutty Teutschenthal track.
That Team USA was somewhat shocked by Australia during Saturday qualifying, the Australians claimed the number one seed ahead of the USA, Belgium, Germany and Great Britain, was only a harbinger of things to come.
Moto 1 – MX1/MX2
Moto one pitted the MX1 (450cc) riders against the MX2 (250cc) riders, and when the gate dropped, Australia’s Dean Ferris grabbed the holeshot on a 250cc machine, followed by Switzerland’s Valentin Guillod and Germany’s Ken Roczen. Team USA’s Dungey and Tomac started the first lap mired in 16th and 19th respectively. Ferris looked fast early in the moto, but an off-track excursion after a jump on lap two dropped him to third behind Guillod and Roczen. Great Britain’s Tommy Searle ran fourth, just ahead of reigning MX1 World Champion Antonio Cairoli of Italy.
Dungey quickly started to pick his way to the front on lap three, moving from 16th to 12th, while Tomac improved to 15th. On lap four, Roczen leaped past Guillod on the uphill step-up triple to take the lead overall as well as in the MX2 class for Team Germany, but teammate Max Nagl was stuck in 17th place. Roczen began to build a cushion on the rest of the field. Cairoli was the fastest man on the track, however, and he fired past Ferris for second place overall on lap six to move Italy to the top of the team standings.
But Team USA was just getting going, with Dungey and Tomac moving to eighth and ninth respectively on the track to vault the team up to fifth in the team standings just before the halfway point in the moto, behind Italy, Germany, Belgium and Australia.
Roczen continued to hold the lead on lap nine, with Cairoli staying on the charge in second and pulling to within 3 seconds of the German. Tomac had also settled into a fast rhythm, and he ran down Ferris to challenge for fourth place on lap 11. Tomac completed the pass, which, combined with Dungey’s eighth-place position, moved Team USA up in the standings with little more than seven minutes remaining in the first moto.
Up front, Cairoli cut into Roczen’s advantage about the same time, and when Roczen missed a shift in the final corner before the finish line jump, Cairoli moved around him on the outside to take the overall lead, but Team USA held the top spot in the overall team standings, with Tomac fourth and Dungey eighth. Tomac helped Team USA’s fortunes by stealing away third from Searle of Great Britain, and he wasn’t done yet, as he latched onto the Roczen’s rear wheel with just two minutes remaining and attempted to pass his Lucas Oil (AMA) Pro Motocross Championship rival with two minutes remaining. That was when the first disaster struck Team USA. Tomac cross-rutted at the top of a jump and parted company with his motorcycle, suffering a heavy crash. Tomac was up quickly, and he was able to continue, but in the blink of an eye, Team USA’s fortunes has changed. What seemed like a sure second-place finish ended with Tomac winding up a disappointing 16th at the finish.
Cairoli went on to take the moto win with 7.835 seconds in hand over Roczen. Searle, Ferris and Gauthier Paulin of France completed the top five. Dungey made his way to sixth place to mitigate the damage to Team USA’s hopes as best he could.
Moto 2 – MX2/Open class
Australian rider Ferris pulled the holeshot again, followed by Roczen, Sean Simpson of Great Britain, and Americans Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac. Roczen wasted no time in dispatching Ferris for the lead over the downhill jump, however, while Tomac moved to third place, ahead of Barcia, and set his sights on Ferris. Tomac took over the second position in the left-hand turn before the step-up triple jump on lap two. Barcia also jumped his way past Ferris to third place on the third lap.
Undaunted by his first-moto mishap Tomac once again ran down Roczen, on lap three, and he stalked the German rider. Tomac was the fastest rider on the track, turning in a 1-minute, 42.325-second lap on lap three. Germany’s hopes of a repeat took a huge hit when Dennis Ullrich crashed in the moto and didn’t appear to be in a hurry to rejoin the race.
Roczen continued to hold off Tomac, with Barcia running a comfortable third ahead of Ferris and Clement DeSalle of Belgium. As they ran on the track just before the halfway point, Team USA had rebounded and was back in the lead, with 27 points to Belgium’s 35 and Great Britain’s 37, but Belgium continued to improve, and with DeSalle running down Barcia with less than 10 minutes remaining in the moto, every position on the track would take on added significance.
The action became even more intense when Barcia bobbled over the same jump and nearly crashed in the exact same spot that had claimed Tomac in Moto 1. Barcia recovered, but the miscue allowed DeSalle to close in and pass Barcia for third place overall—a crucial turning point on the day, as it would move Team Belgium ahead of Team USA in the overall team standings.
Meanwhile, one of the best battles on the track was taking place for ninth place among Tonkov of Russia, Alessandro Lupino of Italy and Tanel Leok of Estonia. Leok would get the best of the battle, moving all the way up to sixth place before the end of the moto.
Tomac waited until there were less than five minutes remaining in the moto to put on another charge and erase the 2.5-second advantage that Roczen had enjoyed in the second half of the race. Tomac alerted Roczen to his presence by moving alongside the German over the finish line jump, and that seemed to motivate Roczen to attempt to pull away again as he desperately sought a win in front of his countrymen. It was enough motivation, as Roczen held off Tomac over the finish line to take the moto win and also clinch the overall individual win for the MX2 class. DeSalle held on to finish third, with Barcia fourth, ahead of Ferris.
The battle for the Chamberlain Trophy was still wide open when the MX1 and Open riders lined up for the third and final moto. Team Belgium clung to a three-point lead over Team USA, 25-28, with Team Italy running third with 36, ahead of Team France with 38 and Team Australia with 39.
But then it seemed as if Team Belgium’s hopes would be dashed in the first turn when DeSalle got tangled up in a multi-rider crash and was knocked out of the race, but the melee that ended DeSalle’s day also claimed Barcia, dropping him to 36th place on the track and putting Team USA in a deep hole to start the moto.
Up front, Nagl led Evgeny Bobryshev of Russia, Cairoli and Dungey, but Dungey was soon pressured by France’s Gauthier Paulin, Belgium’s Ken De Dycker and Searle, who dropped Dungey to seventh place on the track. Barcia was working his way through the pack. He had moved up to 20th place by lap five, and it appeared as though his finish might ultimately decide Team USA’s fate.
As Nagl and Cairoli ran together in first and second on the race track, they built up a 4-second lead over third-placed Bobryshev. Barcia continued to move forward, running 16th by lap eight, while Dungey continued to run sixth. Cairoli finally passed Nagl for the lead over the Monster Energy jump for the lead on lap nine, and he quickly checked out on the field, keeping Team Italy’s hopes alive in the process. Likewise, De Dycker was turning in a solid performance in fourth place to keep Belgium in the hunt.
Dungey gave Team USA a glimmer of hope when he passed Paulin for sixth place, but he ran off the track and gave the position right back to the Frenchman. Barcia was up to 12th place with seven minutes left on the clock. De Dycker, meanwhile, quietly moved up to second place on the track, banking more points for Team Belgium and giving the team a 27-31 over Team USA advantage as the final moto came down to the wire.
The momentum appeared to swing again when a motivated Bobryshev came on strong and pressured De Dycker with just under 2 minutes plus two laps remaining, and Barcia picked up another point for Team USA when he passed Australia’s Tod Waters for 11th place just before the moto clock expired, leaving just two laps for Team USA to get the job done.
Cairoli rode a masterful race, and when the checkered flag fell, the seven-time FIM World Motocross Champion left little doubt as to who was the fastest man on the track in Germany with a brilliant win to claim the MX1 individual title, but briliant De Dycker’s second-place finish, combined with Dungey’s seventh-place finish and Barcia’s 11th-place finish lifted Belgium clear of Team USA for the Motocross of Nations victory, 27-30.
The 2014 Motocross of Nations is scheduled to take place in Latvia.
2014 Motocross of Nations
Results: September 29, 2013
Overall Team Results
6. Great Britain-49