EDITOR’S NOTE: This is simply a comparison of what Team USA will need to overcome to claim yet another Chamberlain Cup, with equal pros and cons for each example. It is not a chest-pounding, “‘Merica!” brash of confidence meant to rattle the European contingent, nor an unpatriotic stab at Ryan Dungey, Justin Barcia, Eli Tomac, and the rest of the 2013 United States effort. Again, it is simply a look at both the strengths and challenges they and many other racers will face at this weekend’s Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in Teutschenthal, Germany.
Will: Teutschenthal is a hard-packed circuit.
With the extremely unfamiliar element in the track’s surface being taken out of the equation for this year, the US team becomes an immediate favorite. To say that an American racer cannot ride hard pack is ludicrous and that is the base of the German circuit. Team Manager Roger DeCoster stated that there was no need to fly over weeks in advance to become acclimated to the terrain the same way last year’s had to in order to prepare for Lommel, and the team instead focused on dialing in what they could stateside.
Will Not: Teutschenthal has a very European layout.
There are few similarities in the tracks of the American Nationals and the World Championship. American tracks are loaded with jumps, be it manmade or natural, are ripped and watered heavily, and certain sections see drastic changes in speed. Grand Prix tracks require their own flow to negotiate the awkward obstacles, narrow lanes, and surfaces that get more laps but less maintenance over the course of the weekend.
Will: With diverse races (SX, Nats) on the schedule, American racers are accustomed to a variety of formats.
“Timed Qualifying” is important to success in American motocross, and those racing on the US circuit are familiar with the formats of Supercross (qualifying practice, heat race, LCQ, main event) and the Nationals (qualifying practice, two motos). US-based riders train for and can handled the numerous practice sessions and sprint races that take are used to set the running order for Sunday’s three motos, which at their core are just like any other professional moto.
Will Not: The number of rides in a short period of time leading up to Sunday’s finals are more than what American riders are used to.
Saturdays at the MXoN consist of practice sessions and a single moto for each respective class (MX1, MX2, MX3), with first moto gate picks decided by random lottery. The overall results from these races establish the order for Sunday’s finals, a three-moto affair that combines two classes at a time (MX1/MX2, MX2/MX3, MX1/MX3). In all, that is three motos plus practice that riders must contest. Racing halfway around the world is a chore in itself, and doing multiple motos in a short period only makes it more of a challenge.
Will: The riders and their teams (Red Bull KTM, Team Honda Muscle Milk, GEICO Honda) are the best and most-prepared in American MX.
Red Bull KTM, Team Honda Muscle Milk, and GEICO Honda are without a doubt three of the best teams in the world. All are well-funded, have staffs working with the latest technology, and can get the machinery adapted to the fuel and sound restrictions followed in Europe. Sure, the era of “works” machinery may be dead in the US, but that has not stopped these teams from making the most powerful motocross bikes in the world.
Will Not: The teams will be thousands of miles away and reliant on only what was shipped to Europe.
Getting a bike to run on the fuel and sound restrictions used by the FIM just as well as they do in America is a task. Although these seem like minor inconveniences, the teams spend countless hours testing to make the bike run at the highest level possible for American rules and slight variances can result is dramatic changes to power. This becomes even more of an issue when one remembers that the American teams are thousands of miles away from their stock of parts and only have what was shipped in preparation to the event.