Features 4 Oct 2012

The Matthes Report: 39

Pulpmx's Steve Matthes checks in from the US every single Thursday, presented by Fox.

Well, the 65th annual Motocross des Nations has come and went with a (somewhat) surprising result of Germany capturing their first title and only second podium ever at the Olympics of motocross. I say surprising because the top two teams going in was thought to be Team USA or Team Belgium as maybe co-favorites to bring home the Peter Chamberlain Trophy and Germany and France were talked about as capable of winning but most likely not going to be able to.

And in the end, this thing was over from the very first moto. Team Germany, led by Ken Roczen on the MX2 bike, Max Nagl on MX1 and Marcus Schiffer in MX3 took off in the first moto and immediately settled into spots three and five. With Roczen on the 250F and with the way the scoring went where you weren’t scored according to your class but your actual placing in the combined races.

So this made Roczen’s rides even more valuable for Germany, His 5-4 moto scores were eleven points better than the next guy (USA’s Blake Baggett). To me, Roczen was the real MVP for Germany with some amazing rides. For 2013 Nagl is being dropped by KTM and moving over to Martin Honda so word in the paddock was he was VERY motivated to show KTM that they made a mistake in dropping him. He was a steady 3-6 and third rider Marcus Schiffer held his own.

Germany scored their very first FIM Motocross of Nations win in Belgium.

All in all, like I said, this one was no contest from the start with Germany beating Belgium by four even with the Germans playing it safe in the last moto. Nagl practically ran off the track to avoid a couple of riders, he wasn’t going to get mixed up in any shenanigans. Da Germans deserved the win, no doubt about it.

In all honesty, I thought Team USA would be better. I knew that they wouldn’t have anything for Jeffrey Herlings or Antonio Cairoli (and they didn’t) but one podium spot out of nine shots at it (three motos) was pretty surprising. The USA isn’t at home in the deep sand but the three riders they did bring were all hella-fast, in shape and as per its usual custom, would just figure it out.

Except they never really did. Right from the first practice I figure that the red, white and blue were going to be in trouble. Mitch Payton told me that generally a good day starts off in the very first practice and if that’s true, it wasn’t a good omen for America.

Ryan Dungey was 3.5 seconds off Cairoli, Barcia was 2 back of Roczen and Justin Barcia was almost 5 seconds off Herlings. They weren’t even really close and again, it wasn’t so much the Herlings and Cairoli’s of the world that they had to beat.

The tough Lommel circuit proved to challenge both rider and technician throughout the event.

It was the Nagl’s ,Clement DeSalle’s and Ken De Dyker’s that I would think, if you hooked Team USA people up to a lie detector, they would admit that they didn’t think they would have a problem with. Instead it wasn’t just the elite guys that outperformed USA, it was a whole bunch of guys and therein lay the problem. USA just couldn’t get it going.

I was shocked at how bad Ryan Dungey’s bike looked to be handling out there. He had some bad headshake and the thing kicked sideways on him a whole bunch of times. Obviously Cairoli’s and Herlings bikes looked incredible out there but they were so much faster that I’m not sure you can compare the two.

I was looking more at Nagl’s and De Dyker’s KTM’s and not seeing the same bucking bronco motions out there. I’m not making excuses for Ryan and I don’t think the teams set-up held him back from winning or anything like that but afterwards in talking to USA manager Roger DeCoster, he confirmed that he thought Ryan’s set-up was off also.

In talking to Bones Bacon, Pro Circuit’s suspension guru he brought the Southwick set-up (the only sand track on the nationals and it was nothing like Lommel) to Europe to test with ten days ago. The guys rode three times before the race and Bacon brought just about everything he could think of that he might need. And you know what? After the race, Bones mentioned to me that he was way, way off his Southwick set-up as the softer sand, endless bottom and massive bumps made Baggett’s suspension set-up much different than what they started with.

Luke Styke, along with Todd Waters and Lawson Bopping, laid down consistent performances in their MXoN debut. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

Nice to see Team Australia, who some thought would have to race the B main, score a tenth place finish overall. The green and gold sent an all-rookie team because of injuries to their big guys and you know what? The kids did all right.

Consistency was the name of the game for Luke Styke, Lawson Bopping and Todd Waters were fast and didn’t appear to have any issues. Waters, in a stacked MX1 field, logged the top two scores for the team. It’s nice to know that the Aussies, should they have to send one of these guys again, know that they have the experience, the wherewithal and the most importantly, the speed to hang with the worlds best.

It’s also somewhere where European team managers keep an eye open for a new talent to bring over to the GP’s, which is then one more step closer to America.

Speaking of Australia, it was Aussie MX1 champion Josh Coppins (of New Zealand) final race of his long and illustrious career. And he went out in style in racing the B Main Sunday morning, making the A main and then promptly racing two more motos on the rough, gnarly as hell Lommel track. And I say Bravo Coppins- if you’re going to go out in any way, go out racing three motos!

For much more on the MXDN, check out my Racer X column from the race right HERE http://www.racerxonline.com/2012/10/03/observations-mxon