European Grand Prix motocross riders head across the Atlantic en masse this weekend for the United States Grand Prix at Glen Helen, inn California.
Among those favoured to do well on the steep American circuit are Belgian giant Ken De Dycker, flying Scotsman Shaun Simpson (pictured above), Italian world champion Antonio Cairoli, Belgium’s Clement Desalle and German pair Max Nagl and Ken Roczen, Frenchman Steve Frossard and Britain’s Tommy Searle, to name just a few.
It is the third round of the world series – following two tough races in Bulgaria and the Netherlands – and, although a reasonable number of American riders will race this Sunday, the entry list really only features “no-name” Americans.
The US superstars are notable for their absence with perhaps only KTM’s Mike Alessi the only true contender among the US nationals.
The Americans have just wrapped up their supercross season and their outdoor series is poised to start but, disappointingly, very few are taking advantage of the chance to test themselves against top European opposition.
Where is James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey and Trey Canard? Where’s Justin Barcia, Dean Wilson, Ryan Sipes, Broc Tickle and Eli Tomac?
Have the Americans gone soft? Is it because there’s no prizemoney to be earned racing GPs? Is it because they’re saving themselves for what’s most important to them – a US title outdoors – and don’t need the extra risk of injury? Is it because they are already on the verge of burn-out with such a jam-packed domestic calendar? Is it because they don’t see GP racing as the ultimate level of the sport?
Probably it’s a bit of all of the above.
But, for the Euros at least, it is important … just three rounds into the season and good points to be had and for New Zealand champion Darryll King, a top prospect in the veterans’ GP class, it’s also important to do well at the USGP. See our earlier story HERE.
The Monster Energy US GP is the first of two consecutive, hugely important “overseas” races for the European riders this season.
The legendary Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California is set to provide fans and riders with a great event starting with two days of amateur racing on Thursday and Friday followed by the FIM MX1, MX2 and VMX classes on Saturday and Sunday.
After last year’s last minute comeback in the World Championship schedule Glen Helen won’t be unchartered territory for the GP riders.
LS Honda Racing’s MX1 rookie Simpson showed great speed at the fast and spectacular track where he came third in the second moto. Simpson struggled with his fitness at the hot Dutch GP in Valkenswaard, but the 23-year-old former British MX2 champ was on-form last weekend at the Red Bull Pro Nationals in Landrake. The talented Scotsman came back in both motos to claim second and third to come home second overall behind Brad Anderson.
De Dycker, who scored a fifth place equal on points with countryman Steve Ramon in Glen Helen last year, is equally fired up to mount a strong challenge in the USA.
Before departing early Monday morning for the American West Coast, De Dycker placed second behind Ramon at the 42nd International Motocross of Wuustwezel in Belgium. De Dycker is currently 14th in the MX1 World Championship, while team-mate Simpson is 16th.
“Although I won the second moto in Wuustwezel I was not so happy with my riding,” said De Dycker.
“We found it hard to get the right set-up and my mind was more on the next two GPs than anything else. The last two weeks I have been riding really hard during training, I hope that work will pay off in the US and in Brazil. I always look forward to racing in America and I like the track in Glen Helen. In spite of a bad start and some mistakes I was fourth in the first moto last year. That gives me the confidence for a strong result this weekend.”
Photo courtesy CDS