This weekend in France will mark the annual FIM Motocross of Nations (MXON), a global motocross competition in which respective countries select three-rider lineups to compete for the Peter Chamberlain Trophy.
Since 2005, the trophy has been held by Team USA, which means the fastest riders from the rest of the world will be doing their best to beat the Americans.
MX Sports Pro Racing and Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports, wish good luck not only to Team USA, but all of the AMA-based riders entered in this weekend’s contest, as well as their counterparts on the Youthstream-organized FIM World Championship tour.
Both 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Champions – Ryan Villopoto (450 Class) and Dean Wilson (250 Class) – will be competing in France, albeit representing different countries. The Monster Energy Kawasaki-backed Villopoto will anchor Team USA’s bid, alongside Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett.
Wilson, who was born in Scotland, will represent Great Britain for the second consecutive year, aboard a Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki of his own. He will be joined by former AMA contender Tommy Searle, as well as Brad Anderson. The British last won this event in 1994, when they upset the Americans and ended a record 13-year winning streak.
Villopoto has represented Team USA on three occasions (2006-2008), and the Americans were victorious each time. In fact, his dominance aboard a 250cc machine at the 2007 MXON is considered one of the single-greatest performances in motocross history. However, after suffering long-term injuries in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons,
Villopoto, now a four-time AMA Pro Motocross Champion, was not available to represent the United States. During that time, Ryan Dungey assumed the vacancy, and helped maintain the US winning streak that started back in 2005, with the trio of Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham, and Ivan Tedesco. In both cases, Dungey was the individual overall winner of the MX1 class, and has been slotted there for a third year by Team USA Manager Roger DeCoster. Villopoto, who is also this year’s AMA Supercross Champion, will represent Team USA in the MX3 class, an open-displacement category.
As for Baggett, the second-year rider has never even been to Europe prior to this trip, let alone race in the prestigious Motocross of Nations. However, on the heels of a third-place effort in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross 250 Class Championship, in which he garnered a series-leading five wins, Baggett was ready and willing to take the assignment as Team USA’s MX2 rider as they attempt to win seven in-a-row.
Other AMA-based riders participating this weekend for their home nations are highlighted by Australian veterans Chad Reed and Brett Metcalfe, each of whom won rounds in the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and finished third and fourth, respectively, in the final 450 Class standings.
Additionally, Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, who joined the AMA tour this year after winning two FIM MX2 World Championships, will ride for the home French team, which also includes former AMA-standout Christophe Pourcel, and Grand Prix race winner Gautier Paulin. Both the Australian and French teams have the depth to challenge Team USA this weekend, and potentially bring the winning streak to an end.
South Africa’s Tyla Rattray and Gareth Swanepoel both hope to get their homeland in contention for at least a podium finish, coming off of career-best seasons in the U.S., respectively. Rockstar Energy/Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Jimmy Albertson and Washington-based privateer Tommy Weeck will both compete for Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory.
Also on the grid will be Sweden’s Fredrik Noren, a rider trying to build a name for himself on the American Motocross tour. Noren competed on the privateer MX Heaven team, and reached the top 20 several times in his first season in the highly-competitive Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Awaiting all of the AMA-based riders on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean is an incredible and diverse lineup of talent, led by Italy’s Antonio Cairoli, one of the fastest Grand Prix riders of all time. Also competing will be German prodigy Ken Roczen, who recently became his nation’s first FIM World Motocross Champion in over 40 years. Put them all together on one starting gate, and it should be an amazing weekend of motocross competition and camaraderie.