Motocross of Nations practice and qualifying goes down in Belgium
September 29, 2012
MX1 rider Ryan Dungey
Practice and qualifying for the 2012 FIM Motocross of Nations took place this morning and afternoon at Belgium's Lommel circuit.
Under weather conditions that ranged from 45 degrees and moderate rain to 65 degrees and sun, the sport's top riders from around the world put on a show for the massive crowd. The circuit, which is known for its deep and unforgiving sandy surface, was expected to give the U.S. team riders trouble -- so much so that they've been on the continent training for the conditions for the past two weeks.
Qualifying began with the MX1 class, pitting current and six-time FIM World Champion Antonio Cairoli against mult-time U.S. champion Ryan Dungey, among others. The Italian Cairoli was quick to check out and run away from the field, while Dungey struggled a bit after a start just inside the top 10. After moving up to fourth, Dungey suffered a crash and lost a few spots, along with his goggles.
The MX2 qualifier saw the U.S. team's Blake Baggett up against two riders he's dealt with all summer in the U.S. Nationals -- Germany's Ken Roczen and France's Marvin Musquin -- not to mention a handful of others capable of running the leader's pace. Baggett's mediocre start resulted in a third-place finish after the 20 minutes plus two laps, while Roczen ran away with the easy win.
MX2 rider Blake Baggett
The final qualifier of the day for the Open class was shaping up as a win for the United State's Justin Barcia as he nailed an outstanding holeshot and set the pace for several laps. However, coming through the pack quickly riding a wave of hype that seemed 100% justified was Team Netherlands' Jeffrey Herlings, the recently crowned FIM MX2 World Champion.
Riding a KTM350F for the first time in a race, Herlings caught and passed Barcia after coming off the gate nearly last. Barcia got into formation behind Herlings and was able to hold the pace for a lap or two, but ultimately rode off the track and ultimately needed help with moving track signage to return to the race. As a result of re-entering the track at a different point from where he exited, Barcia was disqualified by race officials.
Thankfully for the U.S. team, Motocross of Nations rules stipulate that a team's worst score in qualifying and the final motos can be dropped, so the U.S. riders qualified in sixth.
Germany is in the top spot, followed by Belgium. Italy, The Netherlands and France round out the top five.
MX3 rider Justin Barcia
Fans wear their favorite colors proudly at the 2012 MXoN.