The 2014 FIM Motocross of Nations started off beautifully today in Kegums, Latvia. As usual, the AMA’s U.S. team came into the event as relatively heavy favorites thanks to several factors, one of which being a somewhat degraded field of challengers.
The 2014 FIM Motocross of Nations started off beautifully today in Kegums, Latvia. As usual, the AMA’s U.S. team came into the event as relatively heavy favorites thanks to several factors, one of which being a somewhat degraded field of challengers. Sometimes, though, thinner competition can’t make up for bad luck and small mistakes when competing against many of the best racers in the world on their home turf.
The Kegums track is a beautiful, sandy and relatively flat bit of land just south of the Latvian capital of Riga. After much of the team arrived earlier in the week to get in some riding at local tracks, they were ready for battle for Saturday’s qualifying races, which are used to determine gate picks for Sunday's main events.
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With one U.S. rider in each of three classes -- MXGP (450cc), MX2 (250cc) and Open -- the top two scores are tallied to come up with a final score that’s compared with the other 34 national teams.
Team Captain Ryan Dungey was up first in the MXGP qualifier. With a good start that had him as high as second place at one point, things were looking good for Team USA right off the bat. But the MXGP class, being the premier group in the FIM World Motocross Championship Series, is typically also the most stacked with talent, and that was certainly the case here. Dungey succumbed to the advances of both France’s Gautier Paulin and Belgium’s Jeremy VanHorebeek before finishing up a solid and respectable third for the race.
U.S. Team Captain Ryan Dungey got things started in qualifying on Saturday.
Dungey finished third in his qualifier.
Next up was recently crowned Lucas Oils Motocross Series 250cc champion Jeremy Martin in the MX2 class. After a solid start toward the front, things were looking up and despite not moving forward until a bit later in the 20 minutes plus two laps session, he was picking it up and riding well. At around the 15-minute mark, Martin hit a kicker at the end of the rolling whoop section adjacent to the start straight. While the crash may have looked horrific, the result wasn’t bad enough to keep the young champ from re-mounting and finishing out the moto. Knowing full well the worst finish for the team would be dropped, Martin also knew he needed to finish the race and he was able to make it happen. The injury was minor enough that Martin plans to be on the line tomorrow for the main events.
U.S. MX2 rider Jeremy Martin got a solid start in his qualifer.
Martin was sent into the dirt after hitting a tricky kicker at the end of a whoop section.
The Yamaha rider remounted to finish the race.
The finale for Saturday’s qualifiers was the Open class, where riders can ride whatever size bike they choose. It was Eli Tomac representing the USA in this one, and things did not get off to a good start. Tomac was taken out in the first turn after a solid run to the front, ending up on the ground with a few other riders. After re-mounting in dead last (by about one-quarter lap), Eli was able to charge all the way to eighth before the checkers flew.
Eli Tomac is representing the U.S. in the Open class.
After getting caught up in a first turn crash, Tomac remounted in dead last and all alone.
Tomac raced back to eighth by the end of the moto.
With a third, eighth and a dropped score by Martin, the U.S. team ended up eighth in the qualifying points tally. This means that for the main event, the team’s gate picks will be eighth and 28th (two riders from each team are in each of three main events). It could be better for the U.S. riders, but could be a lot worse, that much is for sure.
There’s little doubt that the U.S. riders will step up and put in spectacular rides for Sunday’s main events. With just a little good luck to go along with that, hopes are high for yet another Chamberlin Trophy visit to the United States.
The Chamberlin Trophy goes to the team that wins the Motocross of Nations.