The day started with the Starting Grid Selections by FIM Motocross Commission President Dr. Wolfgang Srb, with the help of two Monster Energy Girls (Barbara and Ivette). The Starting Grid selection is very important, and unique at the Motocross of Nations. First, a ball containing the flag of a country is selected. And then, the next ball selected determines their starting grid selection. Hungary received Gate Choice number 1.
With one ball remaining for countries, and Team USA haven’t been selected yet, all on hand knew it was USA in the ball. And the ball chosen for their Gate Choice gave them fourth position. France is position number 2, Italy 3, and home country Belgium has 28th gate choice.
At 10am the MX1 class practice started. Top lap times – World MX1 Champion Tony Cairoli from Italy – 1:41 seconds. Second is Russian Evgeny Bobryshev, 3 seconds back at 1:44. Ryan Dungey, Team USA third at 1 minute 45 seconds.
At 11am it’s the MX2 practice. Quickest in this practice session – Zach Osborne, from “Puerto Rico” at 1 minute 47 seconds. Then Ken Roczen of Germany a few tenths of a second behind. Glenn Coldenhoff of Netherlands also at 1:47. Followed by Jeremy van Horebeek of Belgium, Blake Baggett of the USA (1:48), Al Tonkov of Russia, and Marvin Musquin of France round out the top of 33.
At 12 noon, the Open Class goes out for practice. And at about 12:15, it started raining. And then it started raining extremely hard! As the sun rose this morning, there was not a cloud in the sky. But as is typical in Belgium, it can rain just about any time. And rain it did.
Top Qualifier in Open – no surprise, The Netherlands Jeffrey Herlings (in the heavy rain) at 1 minute 44 seconds. Then Tanel Leok from Estonia, Ken de Dycker Belgium, and Justin Barcia USA (1:49) round of the 33 riders attempting to set quickest laps.
And then the sun came out. This place, on a Saturday for just qualifying, is packed. It’s an amazing atmosphere. The place is buzzing. Three qualifying motos are ready to take off – MX1, MX2, and Open.
First is MX1 – World Champion Tony Cairoli was the early leader – but was passed briefly by Max Nagl. Max led for laps 3 thru 7, and then Tony came back and passed him for the lead. Tony would go on to win. The finish of this race – Cairoli, Nagl, Belgium’s Clement Desalle, France’s Gautier Paulin, Russia’s Evgeny Bobryshev, USA’s Ryan Dungey, Holland’s Marc de Reuver, Rui Goncalves, Josh Coppins, and Tommy Searle rounded out the top ten of this race.
Tony Cairoli of Italy
MX2 was next. Former World MX2 Motocross Champion, and Team Germany’s Kenny Roczen led from start to finish – all 12 laps. Belgian Jeremy van Horebeek finished second, USA’s Blake Baggett third, Marvin Musquin of France next, then Jake Nicholls of UK next. Glenn Coldenhoff was sixth out of the 33 riders in this race.
Kenny Roczen of Germany
Open class was the final qualifying race of the day. USA’s Justin Barcia was the early leader. What is being reported here at the race track is that Justin received ‘outside assistance’, and he result is that officially he has no score – he’s been disqualified. (He got tangled up in the fencing, and someone helped him get out.)
Jeffrey Herlings started the first lap of this race in fourth, quite a ways back. No matter for the “Sand King”. He moved past the three guys ahead of him (Barcia, de Dycker, Anstie) and into the lead on lap five.
Jeffrey did what many expected him to do – win his race. Ken de Dycker (Belgium) was second, followed by Tanel Leok (Estonia), and Max Anstie (UK).
Jeffrey Herlings of The Netherlands
So, Red Bull KTM riders, all World Motocross Champions, dominated all three heats today – Cairoli, Roczen, and Herlings.
The Qualification of countries heading into tomorrow’s race:
- Germany – Roczen, Nagl, Schiffer – 3 points
- Belgium – Van Horebeek, De Dycker, Desalle – 4 points
- Italy – Cairoli, Guarneri, Lupino – 6 points
- Netherlands – Herlings, Coldenhoff, De Reuver – 7 points
- France – Paulin, Musquin, Boog – 8 points
- Great Britain – Anstie, Nicholls, Searle – 9 points
- USA – Baggett, Dungey, Barcia – 9 points.
Each countries two best scores count today. So even though Barcia officially scored a Disqualification, Baggett’s third place, and Dungey’s sixth place equal nine points.
Enjoy the photos below. Should be interesting, as many teams feel they have a chance to win, and, this is the one race a year where team strategy really comes into play.
More coming tomorrow for the 66th Motocross of Nations.
The uniqueness and difficulty of the circuit in Lommel – the sand. It’s very soft, loose, deep, and lines change every lap. Can the USA regroup for tomorrow’s race … or will a new champion emerge like Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland, France, or Great Britain?
Here’s a GoPro video bonus! Lommel Course Preview with Ken Roczen, Tony Cairoli, and Gautier Paulin