Words and Photos by Brendan Lutes
This post has multiple pages. MX1 Page One | MX2 Page Two | MX3 Page Three
Qualifying for the 66th edition of the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations has concluded on the unforgiving Lommel, Belgium, sand track. After weeks of speculation about how the teams and riders would fair on the unique track, the questions have now somewhat been answered.
Finishing the day with the top qualifying position was Team Germany, which was anchored by Ken Roczen's amazingly dominate ride in the MX2 qualifier, where he got out to the early lead and never looked back. Second in the team standings went to Team Belgium with strong rides being posted by all three riders. Third went to The Netherlands with their strongest ride coming from Jeffrey Herlings in the MX3 class where he took the win in the qualifier. As for Team USA, they had a tough day, qualifying seventh heading into tomorrow, and being penalized with a disqualification for outside assistance.
The start of the first race of the day saw Team Italy's Antonio Cairoli jump out to the early lead ahead of Germany's Max Nagl, Team Belgium's Clemente Dessalle, and the rest of the field. As the laps continued, Cairoli began to open up a comfortable lead, however, he slowed slightly after feeling something wrong with his bike, allowing Nagl to move into the lead. After Nagl led for the majority of the race, Cairoli picked up the pace and retook the lead ahead of the German. From there, Cairoli never relinquished the point position, as the two riders gapped the rest of the field. Behind them, Dessalle held down third for the entire race.
Meanwhile, Team USA's Ryan Dungey was mired back in sixth. He briefly made his way into fifth, but couldn't hold onto the position. In the final laps of the race, Dungey threw away his goggles, and ultimately finished sixth.
Following the race, Ciaroli had this to say, "I had a good start and on the first lap I was trying to push and pull away," he said. "I felt something with the bike, and didn't want to DNF, so I slowed down a little bit. Max got by me then, but a few laps later, the bike felt good again, so I went faster and passed Max back for the lead." As for the main event tomorrow, Cairoli knows that tomorrow will be another story entirely, "Who knows what will happen. This track is gnarly and tomorrow will be even rougher."
1. Antonio Cairoli (Italy)
2. Max Nagl (Germany)
3. Clemente Desalle (Belgium)
4. Gautier Paulin (France)
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (Russia)
6. Ryan Dungey (USA)
7. Marc De Reuver (The Netherlands)
8. Rui Goncalves (Portugal)
9. Josh Coppins (New Zealand)
10. Tommy Searle (Great Britain)
The start saw Team Great Britian's Jake Nicholls take the holeshot followed by Germany's Ken Roczen and Team USA's Blake Baggett. Before the conclusion of the first lap, though, Roczen moved into the lead and quickly began to open up a sizeable lead over the rest of the field that no one could touch. Behind him, Team Belgium's Jeremy Van Horebeek settled into second while Team France's Marvin Musquin and Baggett began to battle for third. As the laps continued, Roczen sat comfortably in the lead with Van Horebeek in second, but roughly halfway through the race, Baggett managed to move into third ahead of Musquin. After that, the top running order remained the same. Roczen took the win followed by Van Horebeek, Baggett, and Musquin--Great Britian's holeshot winner, Nicholls, rounded out the top-five.
Roczen's win helped play a huge role in Germany garnering the top qualifying position. "It's great for Germany," Roczen said. "I did the best I could. I started off second and passed Jake right away. I had fun, but we'll make some small changes on the bike for tomorrow, because I didn't feel quite 100 percent. It's only Saturday, so you have to take it easy, but it's always nice to have a good day."
1. Ken Roczen (Germany)
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (Belgium)
3. Blake Baggett (USA)
4. Marvin Musquin (France)
5. Jake Nicholls (Great Britain)
6. Glenn Coldenhoff (The Netherlands)
7. Alexander Tonkov (Russia)
8. Luke Styke (Australia)
9. Priit Ratsep (Estonia)
10. Even Heibye (Norway)
This race arguably had some of the most anticipated and questioned riders of the weekend in it with The Netherlands' Jeffrey Herlings, Team USA's Justin Barcia, and Team Great Britain's Max Anstie. When the gate dropped, Barcia shot out to the early lead followed by Anstie, Team Belgium's Ken De Dycker, and Herlings. It's worth noting, though, that Herlings hit the gate and got a horrible start, but after the first lap, he had climbed his way up to fourth. Two laps later, things changed when Anstie went down allowing De Dycker to take over second and Herlings third. One lap later, though, Herlings was already around De Dycker and catching Barcia up front. All it took was one more lap for Herlings to get on the rear fender of Barcia and make a pass. After that, Barcia did all he could to stay with the Dutchman, however, he ultimately went down and got stuck in the green fence that lines the track. After getting some help getting through the fence, he rejoined the race and finished sixth. Following the race, though, Barcia was disqualified for receiving outside assistance when getting out of the fence. As for Herlings, he rode away to take the win, but on the last lap, felt some pressure from De Dycker; Team Estonia's Tanel Leok completed the podium in third.
In spite of his win, following the race, Herlings said he had his issues, "I was really struggling with arm pump, which was weird because I never have that," he said afterwards. "Tomorrow, I hope to make it happen individually and hopefully as a team we can get on the podium or in the top-five."
1. Jeffrey Herlings (The Netherlands)
2. Ken De Dycker (Belgium)
3. Tanel Leok (Estonia)
4. Max Anstie (Great Britain)
5. Davide Guarneri (Italy)
6. Todd Waters (Australia)
7. Marcus Schiffer (Germany)
8. Valentin Guillod (Switzerland)
9. Luis Correia (Portugal)
10. Filip Bengtsson (Sweden)
OVERALL TEAM QUALIFYING:
4. The Netherlands
6. Great Britain