2012 MX of Nations Preview

By Michael Antonovich
US Photos By TWMX Staff
GP Photos Courtesy Of Youthstream

The fine sands of Lommel (pronounced Lo-mel) will be the site of this weekend’s Monster Energy MX of Nations,and where, depending on who you talk to, (insert country name here) will destroy (insert country/continent name here) once and for all. Our predictions? Our guess is as good as yours, as it is hard to say who will top the podium without a lap even taking place. Still, we pulled this list of notable teams together, including their numbers, together to make you more educated. Are there parties for the MXoN like there are for the Olympics and Super Bowl? If you know of one, read the article below and impress your friends at in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

To watch the MXoN anywhere in the world, head to http://www.mx-life.tv/.

USA
1 Ryan Dungey MX1
2 Blake Baggett MX2
3 Justin Barcia MX3

The biggest question mark surrounding the event since the announcement it would take place in Lommel is how the American team will fare against the European competition in the sand. While the US circuit does visit Southwick, many claim it has a hard packed feel to it when compared to the endless pit that is Lommel. Multiple videos have surfaced of Ryan Dungey, Blake Baggett, and Justin Barcia riding on the actual circuit last week, and aside from a few rather odd mistakes, they appear to be comfortable already. This will be Dungey’s fourth time as a part of the team, Baggett’s second, and Barcia’s first.

Team USA: Ryan Dungey, Blake Baggett, Justin Barcia

France
4 Gautier Paulin MX1
5 Marvin Musquin MX2
6 Xavier Boog MX3

Gautier Paulin will captain the French team.

With a different line-up than last year, France hopes for redemption after Christophe Pourcel’s final moto DNF ended their chances at taking the victory. In his first full season as a 250 rider in the US, Musquin earned an overall victory and finished fifth overall in point, an indicator of his talents and speed. Paulin recently ended his GP season third overall in the MX1 class due to his consistency, and last year took a moto victory at the event. Christophe Pourcel was originally included, but just after the announcement was replaced by Xavier Boog. Speculation around the switch is varied, as a well-known feud between Paulin and Pourcel may be the cause, but so might Pourcel’s cracked shoulder blade. Whatever the reason may be, France is always a contender at the MXoN.

Marvin Musquin will race in the MX2 class for France this weekend.

Australia
7 Lawson Bopping MX1
8 Luke Styke MX2
9 Todd Waters MX3

With the usual suspects of Chad Reed, Brett Metcalfe, and Michael Byrne out due to injury, the Aussie effort will be unproven at this year’s event. Bopping is a part of the CDR Rockstar Yamaha team in Oz, where he won the Maitland Super X Pro Open earlier this year. Luke Styke finished second overall in the Lites class of Australia’s National championship, while Waters did the same in Pro Open.

Great Britain
10 Tommy Searle MX1
11 Jake Nicholls MX2
12 Max Anstie MX3

After finishing second place in the MX2 GP standings, Tommy Searle will head the English MXoN team. Searle hopes to carry the momentum from his win at the GP of Germany this past weekend into the sands of Lommel.

When Dean Wilson’s status as a member of the English team was questioned, it forced the effort to begin anew. All three riders of the team contested the GP series in the MX2 class, with Searle finishing second overall, Nicholls fourth, and Anstie seventh. Searle is familiar with what goes on at the event, and Anstie is said to be the sand rider they need. For Nicholls, this will be his best chance to break out of the shadows cast by his teammates.

Belgium
13 Clement Desalle MX1
14 Jeremy van Horebeek MX2
15 Ken de Dycker MX3

Clement Desalle is the leader of the highly competitive and accomplished Belgian team. With the “MX Panda,” Jeremy van Horebeek, and Ken de Dycker carrying the flag, they should fare well on their home soil.

With the event taking place on their home soil, the Belgian team automatically earns a nod as a threat. Desalle has shown his sand prowess to the American’s before, as he raced to second overall at Southwick in 2010. Van Horebeek was forced to miss the final round of the GP season with injury, but no word on his status or a replacement rider has been mentioned. As for de Dycker, expectations of continuing his late season surge, which landed him fifth in the GP points, along with his lengthy career make him more than qualified.

South Africa
16 Richard Van Der Westhuizen MX1
17 Shannon Terreblanche MX2
18 Neville Bradshaw MX3

South Africa’s entries raise another question mark, as the three riders chosen rarely register to even the most worldly fans in the US. Van Der Westhuizen took the top spot in the MX1 class in the South African National championship, as well as fourth in MX2. Terreblanche is a regular of the Dutch MX scene, while Bradshaw has taken his share of honors in England.

Germany
19 Max Nagl MX1
20 Ken Roczen MX2
21 Marcus Schiffer MX3

Max Nagl was out for nearly the entire GP series, but was as fast as ever upon his return. He will be the leader of the German squad.

With the exact same lineup as they brought to Colorado in 2010, the Germany outfit looks poised and ready. Nagl missed the bulk of the GP season with injury, but was at the front of the back immediately upon returning. With one year under his belt in the US and a confidence boost following his second place finish at the German GP, Ken Roczen may be his best ever. Schiffer is well traveled when it comes to Europe, as he competes in select GPs and numerous National championships.

Ken Roczen has never crumbled from the pressure that comes with the MXoN. After a year in the States, Roczen may now be even more of a contender.

Netherlands
22 Marc de Reuver MX1
23 Glenn Coldenhoff MX2
24 Jeffrey Herlings MX3

Dutch teen Jeffrey Herlings is carrying not only the pride of the Netherlands, but all of Europe on his shoulders. Touted as one of the best sand riders of all time, many claim the event is his to lose.

Now in the twilight of his career, de Reuver has transitioned from racing the full GP series to hitting more national championships for Lanes Kawasaki of England. The highlights of his career came in sandy conditions, making him a natural choice. Coldenhoff is one of the many young riders on the GP scene, and recently proved he can fend for himself in the MX2 division. The rider with the most hype and highest expectations for the entire event is undoubtedly Jeffrey Herlings, who at 17 is already being proclaimed as one of the best sand riders to ever live. His finish at the GP of The Netherlands only helped make that statement more believable, while his personality and aggressive riding style have many, if not all, eyes on him this weekend.

Italy
46 Antonio Cairoli MX1
47 Alessandro Lupino MX2
48 Davide Guarneri MX3

Can Antonio Cairoli shake the bad luck that follows the six-time world champion to every MXoN this year?

The MX of Nations are unusually trying for the Italians. With six world titles to his name, the chatter of “dream battles” always involves Antonio Cairoli and anyone from the US. However, a collection of injuries (2011), mechanical issues (also 2011), and issues with customs (2007) have kept the races from ever materializing. His teammates Lupino and Guarneri are accomplished in the GP circuit, as they finished 11th in MX2 and 13th in MX1, respectively.