2018 Motocross of Nations – Preview and Predictions
The excitement for this weekends Motocross of Nations at Red Bud has been brewing for sometime and with it directly upon us, its that time we delve into the team’s and have a go at making our predictions for the event.
Images courtesy of Dave Rich
First up lets take a look at Team GB, who after last years remarkable podium finish, will be looking for more of the same in America. I would say the form guide would maybe say they cant make the top three, but one team apart, none of the other teams look that remarkable either so, i’m thinking a podium place is a strong possibility with some good performances from the team. Ok so Max Anstie is not going to repeat his 1-1 from Matterley last year, but he loves wearing the Union Jack and a couple of top 5’s are within his realm. Tommy Searle is on a 450 this year, and sure Dean Wilson will be missed, but Tommy is more than capable of two solid rides. Ben Watson thoroughly deserves his spot on the team after finishing 4th in the World in the MX2 class. Starts against the 450’s could be his problem, but if he can get in the mix he will be in the top 5 250’s for sure.
Prediction: 3rd by a point. Its gonna be a nailbiter
Next up the US of A.. well what can you say about the class of 2018, apart from they are just that, class! Eli Tomac in his home land and on one of his favourite dirt heaps is going to take some stopping. At worst he is going to finish top 3 in each of his moto’s and at best he will go 1-1. Either way that’s some pretty darn good scores on the board for starters. His hindrance maybe his starts, but as we have seen throughout the AMA season he is quite capable of churning through the field at a rate of knots. Much has been made about his battle with Herlings, and while Jeffrey has make noises about wanting to beat everyone, Tomac has been talking up the team. Either way neither one of them will want to give an inch. Justin Barcia is the strongest number 2 in the event by far, especially at Red Bud where he is rapid. I can’t see him finishing outside of the top 5 in each of his two moto’s, so again more great scores for the Americans. Aaron Plessinger comes into his first MXON as the AMA 250 champ, and his Red Bud round was phenomenal. He will have the same problem as the other 250’s, and that is making the start, but his raw speed will make him one of the top two 250’s for sure. A few have spoken about the possibility of rain. That wont phase the American’s either so I have to say I can’t see anyone stopping them.
Prediction: 1st at a canter
Holland are probably the biggest challenger to America. With Jeffrey Herlings as your lead rider you know that barring disaster he is going to be top 3 in each moto, with a good chance of a 1-1. Does he have the back up though? I think not. Glenn Coldenhoff has had an average season, and I don’t think he will have enough in the tank to help Herlings lift the team above the USA. Calvin Vlaanderen has had moments in the 250’s this year and if the Dutch are to do anything to stop the American’s he is going to need one of those this weekend.
Prediction: 2nd but someway off the USA
It’s been a whole few months of turmoil, trouble and strife for France. Not picking Marvin Musquin was a big mistake, and with Romain Febvre out, the reigning champs have got their work cut out to even make the podium. Dylan Ferrandis could be the best 250 out there, but Gautier Paulin has had a shocking season and unless he steps up to the plate, the French won’t be making a trip to the podium. Jordan Tixier comes in to replace the injured Febvre, with Musquin refusing the take the call, and with a season off the radar the enormity of the MXON isn’t going to be the place for Tixier to come back to the fore.
Prediction: 4th but only just, and they could possibly finish as low as 6th.
I am really looking forward to seeing what Ken Roczen can do for Germany. In the past he has some storming MX of Nation’s and in the US he is going to be a contender for race wins. He has run at the front of the field in the AMA’s this year but has faded towards the end of the Moto’s, but as the series came to a close his fitness was certainly building, and with some strong starts you can’t rule him out of challenging for race wins. Max Nagl is Ken’s wing man and the Veteran aboard his TM will need some of the lightening starts from his Husqvarna days to get good results. Henry Jacobi is a rider I love to watch, he hangs it out, gets his hands dirty and doesn’t give up, but his riding style means he runs out of steam at the end of moto’s or bins it. Germany need Jacobi to calm it down a bit and claim results if they are going to challenge for a podium spot.
Prediticon: 6th. The Battle for the podium places is going to be really tight and they will be in with a shout
Belgium are the most unspectacular team in the Nations, but to be fair that is sometimes what is needed. Clement Desalle could be the dark horse of the meeting, and if he makes a good start and sticks his elbows out he is capable of two top 5 motos. Jeremry Van Horebeek has had a real quiet year, and I think he will have two solid top ten finishes but it won’t be quite enough to get them on the box. There is no question about their 250 riders talent, but the youngster Jago Gerts is being thrown in at the deep end here, and it could be the step too far for him. If he can show some of his best MXGP speed then Belgium could be a dark horse.
Prediction: A solid 5th.
The best of the rest..
Most team’s have one outstanding rider, which is going to make for some great individual racing but means their chances of team success are heavily limited. Antonio Cairoli I feel is a rider with the pressure off this weekend. Italy won’t be in contention and being able to do his own thing, he could be the one to get in on the Herlings/Tomac battle.
Spain are in a similar situation, with Jorge Prado only last week being crowned MX2 World Champ, so he will be riding full of confidence and I am hoping he puts one over on Plessinger and is the number one 250 rider. His back up is poor so don’t expect and big Spanish result.
Always a dark horse is Australia, and Hunter Lawrence has shown he can beat the best when representing the Roo’s and aboard a Geico Honda he won’t be lacking in the horsepower department. Switzerland have two riders who can run top 10’s in Jeremy Seewer and Valentin Guillod, but I think that is where there challenge falls short.
Throw in the entertainment factor of Puerto Rico with Travis Pastrana chucking in his 2 stroke, Kevin Windham back in the big time, and Ryan Sipes (who could be a contender for a top 10 in the 250’s now he is riding a 4 banger) you have yourself one hellava entertaining weekend on our hands.
Saturday for me over the last couple of years has been cheering on Ireland in the qualification races, with both times having to fight through the B final to make it to Sunday. This year though, with Stuart Edmonds and Graeme Irwin out with injury its gonna be tough for them, but you never know, the Irish are plucky racers and I hope they make it.
The weekend schedule:
TIMETABLE Local Time (EST/GMT-4)
Friday: MXoN Teams Presentation to the Crowd 17:00
Saturday: Ballot 09:00; Free Practice MXGP 10:00; Free practice MX2 11:00; Free Practice Open 12:00; Qualifying Heat MXGP 14:30; Qualifying Heat MX2 15:30; Qualifying Heat Open 16:30
Sunday: Warm-up B-Final 8:45; Warm-up MXoN Group 1 9:15; Warm-up MXoN Group 2 09:45; B-Final 11:00; MXoN Race 1 (MXGP+MX2) 13:10; MXoN Race 2 (MX2+Open) 14:40; MXoN Race 3 (Open+MXGP) 16:08.
Delayed coverage of the main event is being shown on Sunday evening on Eurosport from 9pm, but if you want to watch the complete showdown, qualifying races and get full live coverage from the day you will need to get a pass on www.mxgp-tv.com