The American win streak has been broken and Germany are the new Motocross of Nations champions.
Defending champion Team USA was unable to make it eight wins in a row at this year’s Motocross of Nations as Team Germany and Team Belgium came on strong in the deep sand of Lommel, in Belgium, at the 66th running of this “Olympic Games of motocross” at the weekend.
And, despite setbacks, the trio from New Zealand was able to fight back, win a race and finish among the top half of the world’s motocross countries.
Once again for Team New Zealand it was a difficult assignment to head across to the far side of the world and take on the might of Europe and the United States, and that job was made even more difficult thanks to a penalty for a technical infringement – Cody Cooper’s factory-supplied bike failed a post-race noise test in qualifying and that was just enough to tip the Kiwis into ‘last chance qualifier’ territory.
But the brave Kiwis knuckled under and punched their way into the main event as 20th and final qualifying nation by winning the B Final race early on Sunday, Josh Coppins and Cody Cooper finishing a remarkable 1-2 in that race, allowing third team member Kayne Lamont to back off and save his energy.
However, by being forced to race the B Finals, it also meant they had to endure an extra race on a day that was always going to be extremely demanding in the torturous, energy-sapping sands of Lommel.
Motueka’s Coppins (MX1), in his last hoorah at international level, was the best-performed of the Kiwis, finishing 11-34 in his two outings.
Mount Maunganui’s Cooper (Open class) finished 17-32 and MXoN debutant Lamont (MX2), from Mangakino, chimed in with 34-33 finishes.
In the end, Team New Zealand (Josh Coppins, Cody Cooper and Kayne Lamont) settled for 15th overall of the 33 countries represented.
Team captain Coppins said that three races in one day proved to be a little too much and he was forced to retire from the final moto.
“It was a tough track but it reminded me there is no chance of another comeback!” Coppins said.
“After that second race I was so tired I was thinking ‘no, never again!’. Three motos was hard today because we had to qualify from the B Final.
“There were times when I rode really well today and I’m proud about that,” he said.
The hero of the day for Team Germany was Ken Roczen, who, for the third consecutive year, won the MX2 overall. Roczen took his 250cc KTM to finish 5-4 against the leading MX1 and Open riders in the world.
Roczen’s team-mates, Max Nagl (MX1) and Marcus Schiffer (Open class), finished 3-6 and 7-14 respectively in their races, giving their country its first Motocross of Nations title since the inception of the event in 1947.
It was also a sweet victory for world championship riders in the MX1 and Open classes, with the AMA riders totally shut out this time around.
MX1 world champion Antonio Cairoli, of Italy, won the MX1 battles with a perfect 1-1 score-line, while Dutch rider Jeffery Herlings finished 1-2 to take top honours in the Open class.
Best of the Americans was Ryan Dungey (MX1), who finished 7-9, while team-mates Justin Barcia (MX3) and Blake Baggett (MX2) came home 14-3 and 14-6 respectively.
Anyway, how about a little helmet camera footage, on board with Antonio Cairoli during qualifying:
2012 Motocross of Nations results:
Moto one MX1/MX2:
1. Cairoli, 2. Paulin, 3. Nagl, 4. Desalle, 5. Roczen, 6. Bobryshev, 7. Dungey, 8. Searle, 9. De Reuver, 10. Van Horebeek, 11. Coppins (NZ), 12. Goncalves, 13. Barr, 14. Baggett, 15. Coldenhoff, 16. Nicholls, 17. Krestinov, 18. Tonkov, 19. Musquin, 20. Bopping. Also, Lamont (NZ), 34th.
Moto two MX2/Open:
1. Herlings, 2. Leok, 3. De Dycker, 4. Roczen, 5. Guarneri, 6. Baggett, 7. Schiffer, 8. Waters, 9. Anstie, 10. Boog, 11. Musquin, 12. Tonkov, 13. Correia, 14. Barcia, 15. Ratsep, 16. Bengtsson, 17. Cooper, 18. Olssen, 19. Olsen, 20. Styke. Also, Cooper (NZ) 17th and Lamont (NZ) 33rd.
1. Cairoli, 2. Herlings, 3. Barcia, 4. Leok, 5. De Dycker, 6. Nagl, 7. Desalle, 8. Paulin, 9. Dungey, 10. Goncalves, 11 Anstie, 12. Searle, 13. Guareri, 14. Schiffer, 15. Waters, 16. Boog, 17. De Reuver, 18. Krestinov, 19. Boppins, 20. Freibergs. Also, Cooper (NZ) 32nd and Coppins (NZ) 34th.
Final nation standings:
1. Team Germany 25pts, 2. Team Belgium 29pts, 3. Team USA 39pts, 4. The Netherlands 44pts, 5. Team Italy 45pts, 6. Team France 47pts, 7. Team Estonia 56pts, 8. Team Great Britain 56pts, 9. Team Portugal 80pts, 10. Team Australia 83pts, 11. Russia 93pts, 12. Sweden 103pts, 13. Ireland 106pts, 14. Latvia 120pts, 15. New Zealand 127pts, 16. Slovenia 134pts.
© Words and top photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
© Action photos by Ray Chuss/Moto Magazine