Team Germany, with two of their three riders from the KTM factory stable emerged victorious on Sunday at the Motocross of Nations at Lommel, Belgium ending the USA’s winning streak of seven victories in the competition. The host country Belgium, also with two KTM factory riders was second and Team USA with KTM’s AMA 450 champion Ryan Dungey finished third.
Max Nagl, Ken Roczen and teammate Marcus Schiffer left in possession of the Chamberlain Cup, the most coveted trophy after a tight faceoff Belgium with KTM’s Ken de Dycker and Jeremy van Horebeek and Clement Desalle. USA, who were in second place after race two saw their chances slip when Dungey crashed and slipped down the order in the final race. It was Germany’s first ever MXoN victory.
Roczen, who rides for KTM’s USA factory team was particularly pleased with his team’s result, saying: “Yeah, it’s absolutely amazing what all three of us did. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. There are a lot of teams out there that can ride in the sand. But that it really was going to be us on that top step at the end was a really good feeling and yeah, history for Germany of course. And I’m really happy with what I did winning the third time in the row for MX2.”
But this epic 66th edition of the challenge will also be remembered for the amazing rides of two other KTM teammates: for Tony Cairoli’s victory in the opening race when he finished 21 seconds ahead of French rider Gautier Paulin, for Jeffrey Herlings’ magic in race two when he finished 58 seconds ahead of Tanel Leok of Estonia and for race three when the two KTM teammates fought it out on the track; six times World Champion Cairoli, the recently crowned MX1 World Champion and a wily tactician of great skill and Herlings, the young just 18-year-old pretender from the Netherlands who has just taken the world MX2 title. The two gave a stunning display of skill on the treacherous Lommel track where by the end of the race weekend the ruts in the soft and sticky sand were almost waist deep. They wove and danced over the deteriorating track surface with the kind of skill that left observers open mouthed with admiration. Even for the hardest fighting American riders it was just too good.
When Cairoli and Herlings lined up for the final race both their national teams were already out of the reckoning so what was at stake here was their honor. Both were riding the KTM 350 SX-F bike, Tony was racing for MX1 and Jeffrey for the Open Class instead of piloting his KTM 250 SX-F in the MX2 series. It was a battle of proven skill and youthful exuberance that seemed to be over as soon as the gate dropped. Cairoli took the holeshot and Jeffrey was buried right down at 28th place in the melee of riders trying to get away cleanly. The young Dutchman made up 18 places in the opening lap, was in fourth in the fourth lap and was second behind Tony two laps later. There was a huge gap between them but Jeffrey was lapping multiple seconds faster than any other rider and it all came down to the final lap. In the end it was Cairoli who took the race but close behind him was Herlings after finishing what was probably the ride of his young career. They hugged and were in the pit area surrounded by their team before third placed Justin Barcia of the USA took the checkered flag. It will be a race that people will talk about for a long time. Tony Cairoli said after the race: “I’m not a Belgian or a Dutch rider. I’m not born in the sand so I just do my best, I train a lot here, I step up my condition and my technique. So today I was the fastest and the strongest and the best sand rider, so I think its just amazing that I can even step it up more…. not so much for Italy but with myself I’m really happy. We’re happy that we finished top five it’s not a bad result. I think next year we can prove our worth and the media will consider us a team that can be on top.”
From the USA perspective, Ryan Dungey said after the races that it had been a ‘definite experience’. “We learned quite a bit and we realized what a demanding and tough track this is. You know it’s about learning. We didn’t ride terribly today, we gave it our best effort and you don’t always win. It’s tough because that’s the goal in the States and over here. You don’t really want to accept anything but a win. The older you get and the more you win, the harder it gets to lose but at the same time we did well. We’ve given 100% and that’s all you can ask.”
The MX of Nations closes the season on what was a fantastic year for KTM and its factory riders. The Austrian manufacturer won multiple world titles and wrote history taking their first ever AMA 450 title with Ryan Dungey. Their riders’ performance at the Nations was no less spectacular. As well as anchoring all three teams on the podium with key riders; KTM also took first place in all three individual categories: Cairoli won MX1, Roczen won MX2 and Herlings won the Open Class.
Germany leaves Lommel as the 2012 MX of Nations champion and as host for the 67th edition to be held at Teutschenthal. Belgium leaves with the satisfaction of staging a memorable 66th edition that rewarded them with second place. The USA will return home with the intention of coming back strong in 2013 and the KTM Racing Department can go back to their headquarters in Mattighofen to count up an amazing number of titles for 2012.
Please note: We apologize for the delay in sending out these results, which has been due to a server failure with the organizer’s website
Image courtesy KTM