Kiwis struggle at MX of Nations

By Andy McGechan

Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter (Suzuki), in the motocross fight of his life in Germany at the weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter (Suzuki), in the motocross fight of his life in Germany at the weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ

The 'wall' has come crashing down once again in Germany. This year's Motocross of Nations at Teutschenthal, in the former East Germany, went down to the wire with the final sledge-hammer blow delivered this time by the men of Belgium.

Mentored by former world motocross champion Joel Smets, Team Belgian riders Clement Desalle (Open Class), Jeremy Van Horebeek (MX2) and Ken De Dycker (MX1) silenced the vocal home crowd at this "Olympic Games of motocross" as they shattered the defending champion Germans and blasted away perennial favourites the United States to claim the 2013 MXoN in the final race of the weekend.

Even as Desalle was in the medical centre receiving treatment following his first-turn crash at the all-important final (MX1 and Open class) race of the day, the rest of his team battled on, De Dycker managing to hold off Russian Evgeny Bobryshev and crowd-favourite Max Nagl, of Germany, in the charge for the finish line and he therefore doing enough to seal the coveted Chamberlain Trophy.

That final race was won by Team Italy's MX1 world champion Antonio Cairoli, but runner-up spot was enough for De Dycker to give Team Belgium the winning points.
After discarding Desalle's non-score in that final race, Belgium eventually won by three points from Team USA, with Team Italy another three points further back.

Race day favourites after impressive qualifying results the previous afternoon, Team Australia eventually had to settle for fourth place overall, while the trio from France rounded out the top five.

Just as in Belgium last year, Team USA proved to be very strong, but they were nothing like the dominant force of previous years.

With race wins going to European riders, Italian Antonio Cairoli and German Ken Roczen, it showed that once again Europe is the hotbed of the sport.

In the battle for individual class honours, Cairoli won the MX1 class overall with 1-1 results, American Justin Barcia took the Open class with 4-11 results and Roczen won the MX2 class with a 1-2 score-line.

Team New Zealand's trio - Mount Maunganui riders Cody Cooper and Rhys Carter and Mangakino's Kayne Lamont - struck problems halfway through the day and had to settle for a disappointing 20th overall of the 40 nations entered.

New Zealand finished one point behind Norway and ahead of the first of the nations that missed qualifying for Sunday's main races, Peurto Rico, Ireland and Canada.

It is never easy to travel to the opposite side of the world and race against the sport's elite, but it became mission impossible for the Kiwis when Cooper, the squad's most experienced rider and the current national MX1 champion, was struck down with mechanical problems and forced to withdraw from the second of Sunday's three championship races.

Just four laps into the day's second 30-minute race, a rock flew up and jammed the rear suspension on Cooper's bike.

He had no option but to withdraw from the race, leaving the three-rider Kiwi squad in a perilous position.

With five of six races to count towards the total (teams to discard their worst result) New Zealand had to count on outstanding results for the other races and that just wasn't possible for the rookie riders, with the odds so heavily stacked against them.
Cooper (Open Class) finished 32nd in his other outing, as Carter (MX1) managed 33rd and 34th, while Lamont (MX2) twice finished 34th.

"I think the best we could have hoped for was to finish 10th, if everything fell into place," said Team New Zealand manager Josh Coppins, of Motueka.

"Unfortunately everything didn't fall into place. I think the challenge of the track and the toughness of this event caught the guys out a little bit.

"They will be the first to admit that they were out of their depth on this type of surface and this type of track. That's part of the reason why we are here. This is a young team and we'll come back stronger next year."

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