MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT BY JOHN BASHER (10/2/13)

October 2, 2013
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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: 2014 KTM 125SX PHOTO SHOOT

MXDN VIDEO RECAP: ELI THE EAGLE

CONGRATULATIONS TO TEAM BELGIUM!

    I predicted that the U.S. would handily win the Motocross des Nations this past weekend in Teutschenthal, Germany. I was wrong. While we could have, should have and would have won the Chamberlain trophy, it was not to be. Instead it was the solid and consistent effort of the Belgian trio of Ken de Dycker, Jeremy van Horebeek and Clement Desalle that put the hurt on the rest of the world. History buffs might remember that Belgium won the second ever MXDN, back in 1948. This is the country’s 15th time winning the illustrious race. Congrats to the boys in black, yellow and red!

A FEW NOTES ON NUMBERS

    AMA Pro Racing released the list of the top 100 racing numbers this past week. I wanted to dig deep and get more in depth with these numbers. Here goes:

2 – The number of riders that earned new career numbers for 2014. Eli Tomac (3) and Zach Osborne (16) will maintain these permanent numbers until they either win a championship (and are required to run the number 1 plate) or essentially retire. Note that Osborne will have to forego his favorite number, 338, because the AMA doesn’t allow career number recipients to select a three-digit number (Mike Alessi, 800, is grandfathered in).

3 – Eli Tomac’s new career number. Previously he held 17, but thanks to winning the 250 National Championship, Tomac could select a number inside the top 10. The numbers 3, 6, 8 and 9 were open, so naturally Eli chose the lowest number (and maybe he’s a Dale Earnhardt fan). the previous owner of number 3, Mike Brown, failed to earn the 25 points required to keep the number

17 – The first available number to a non-career number rider. Jason Anderson earned that distinction (though, as I mention below, he could have had 13). Jeremy Martin is next, at 19, followed by Cole Seely, at 21, and Wil Hahn, at 23.

22 – The number of riders in the top 100 that already have career numbers (not including Tomac and Osborne). With all career numbers accounted for, and number 1 automatically given to the defending champion(s), it means that only 74 numbers are handed out (because it’s really the top 99 riders, as 100 isn’t earned). But wait, there’s more! National number 13 is open, but those with triskaidekaphobia refuse to run that number for fear of bad luck. Jason Anderson had the opportunity to run 13 in 2014 but declined. And Kevin Windham’s number 14 has been stowed away for safe keeping, as it was not available to current racers (and wasn’t listed in the 2014 numbers). Case in point, the top 100 numbers have been whittled down significantly.

30 – The turnover rate for 2014. Ivan Tedesco, Kevin Windham, John Dowd, Gareth Swanepoel, Billy Laninovich, Matt Moss, Kyle Regal, Tommy Hahn, Josh Hansen, Hunter Hewitt, Matt Goerke, Justin Sipes, Shane Sewell, Tommy Weeck, Kevin Rookstool, Shawn Rife, Robert Marshall, Austin Howell, Jason Thomas, Bruce Rutherford, Jeff Alessi, Jacob Hayes, Teddy Maier, Landon Powell, Tevin Tapia, Jeff Gibson, Kyle Beaton, Chris Plouffe and Preston Mull are not on the top 100 list for 2014.  

32 and 34 – In 2013 Malcolm Stewart was 32 and Justin Bogle was 34. They swapped numbers. Bogle will be 32 in ’14 and Stewart will be 34.

42 – Vince Friese is the only rider of the non-career-number riders to keep his same number in 2014 that he did this year.
  
MOTOCROSS DES NATIONS: WE LOSE AGAIN
By Daryl Ecklund


Photo: Dennis Stapleton

    For the last two years we have lost the Motocross des Nations. For most nations, finishing on the podium would be an achievement, but for Team USA after winning seven years straight it comes as a shock to lose two in a row. Is the U.S. no longer a dominating force in motocross? Is the infamous Giuseppe Luongo-run FIM World Motocross Championship Series producing better riders? Let’s take a more in-depth look.
    We no longer have the likes of the Carmicheel, Stanton, Ward or Bailey to help Team USA keep the crown, but I don’t think this is an issue. Did we lose because Ryan Villopoto was on the sidelines the past two years? Yes, he would have helped, but I we can win without him. So why did we lose? We lost, and most countries have the same excuse, because two of our riders were involved in crashes. In the end we lost by three points?and if Tomac hadn’t crashed while running up front or Barcia hadn’t been involved in a first turn crash, they would have easily gotten 3, 4, 5 or 6 points more and Team USA would have stood on the top step again. But, we didn’t and we didn’t. Team USA has had a big target on their backs ever since we strung together 13 straight wins, from 1981 through 1993, and every fan in Europe roots against the stars and stripes. When I say everyone you may think I am talking about the European riders, but I think there is more to the story. Last year the race was held in Lommel, one of the gnarliest sand tracks known to man. It caught us off guard because we only race on one sand track and Southwick is a different kind of sand than Lommel. It’s one thing to ride in a sand box, but Lommel was like riding in quick sand. It favored the sand masters and Dungey, Barcia and Baggett were swallowed up. In truth, going to a sand track as unique as Lommel for the MXDN would be like the USA getting the MXDN and holding it in Anaheim Stadium! If that happened you would hear the squeals from across the pond.
    I am not one to make excuses, even if it is for the country I live in; however, the past two years haven’t proven that Team USA is second string. Lommel favored the sand riders, but the winners of the motos in Lommel and at Teutschenthal didn’t ride for teams that won the MXDN. Their teams lost?they looked good, but in sol efforts. This year Cairoli and Roczen were the best riders in the three motos, but for many of the same reasons that our team lost?they were on losing teams. Hey, things happen.


Photo: Dennis Stapleton

    Teutschenthal was insane. The track wasn’t just physically challenging, but also mentally taxing. It formed deep rock hard ruts with pot holes and big sharp bumps. It took it’s toll on everyone (save for Roczen and Cairoli). Many riders were getting cross-rutted. Everyone saw what happened to Eli Tomac. Yard sale! Perhaps the constant grooming of American Nationals tracks and John Ayers stupid “smooth track policy” of a few years ago made the Americans unprepared to squared-edged bumps. Glen Helen was always the roughest track on the AMA circuit, but it got dumped four years ago for some flat as a pancake makeshift National tracks?so, in way the powers that be, are just as much to blame for our loss in Germany as the team’s crashes or Dungey’s averageness. Average tracks produce average results.
    Team USA almost won, but it was one of those horseshoe deals. What can we take away from this year’s experience? Tomac was the star of the team, even if he did go flailing through the air. Unfortunately crashes by Eli and Justin Barcia left us behind the eight ball. Ryan Dungey did not have any breakout rides, but he was just as consistent as most of the Belgian team. He claimed he was having issues with bike setup, but his boss, Roger DeCoster, called him out saying that he just suffered mentally. Regardless, we lost. No sweat?we will win when we win. And, win or lose we will still remain the most dominant country in the sport of motocross. We have the richest series, best paid riders, 17 Supercross races, 12 Nationals, overflow crowds of spectators, a supportive aftermarket industry, solid and free TV packages and, more importantly, overflow crowds of young Pro riders trying to grab the brass ring. America is not elitist?we want to grow the sport from the bottom up and you do that by welcoming new riders and giving them the opportunity to show what they can do.The USA has always welcome people looking to live the dream. America is the land of milk and honey for motocross. I’m not trying to take anything away from the European stars?they know how to ride, but if you are going to ride for fame, fortune and personal well being?America is the place to do it.
 
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