Wow, I almost don’t even know where to start when I’m sitting here at my computer and begin writing about the Motocross of Nations and my experience of it.
But of course, I will try!
The entire Italian team, including Claudio, Jill and I took the plane to USA on Tuesday from Rome. We arrived in the USA on Tuesday as well, late in the evening. And then we went to our favorite American restaurant – Olive Garden!
On Wednesday we went sight-seeing with the whole team – we went to the Denver zoo, and we went shopping in the Cherry Creek area.
On Thursday I went to the track for the first time. The mechanics where busy with maintaining the bike, so I went to walk the track.
On Friday we had a busy day, with all kinds of interviews, videos, photos and press conferences. Nations is big. They prepared the track really nice and I couldn’t wait to eventually get out there and ride it!
Saturday the free practice session went very well, and I was second in the MX1 class behind Ryan Dungey. I must say, it was a special experience to feel the difference of the bike, especially the power, because of the high altitude of the race circuit area. (Very different from anything we do normally.)
I also had more problems with my asthma than I have ever had before. It was difficult to breathe.
For the Saturday Qualification Heat, and also for the races on Sunday, you could already tell that the starts were even more important than normal! It would be difficult for anyone to come from the back of the pack with a bad start.
In the Qualification Heat I had a great start, second behind French rider Gautier Paulin. I passed him on the first lap and led the MX1 Qualification Heat until the end. The track was perfect and there was a lot of grip. And I needed grip and good traction ’cause I needed every cc of my engine to make the high and far jumps! The track had many lines and I was loving every lap I rode!
So, I won the heat, second was Metcalfe AUS, then Paulin FRA and then Dungey USA. After the MX1 Saturday heat, I went and watched my team mates Alessandro Lupino in the MX2, and Manuel Monni in the OPEN. Both classes showed the public, and ME, some high level racing and good competition – so it was looking like there would be good races to come for tomorrow! Both Alessandro (8th) and Manuel (11th) did a great job and it was looking like the goal we had (top five) was very reachable.
Sunday: The day before, on Saturday, after the heat races they made some changes to the track. During the warm-up on Sunday morning, I was feeling that this was not the track that I liked so much as the day before. But the track was the same for everybody, so I go for it.
The first heat I was fifth position off the start, and I passed Barragan (SPA) and Ramon (BEL) on the first lap. Then I passed Metcalfe (AUS) and now it was Dungey (USA) in first, and I in second position.
Ryan had a few second gap, and to be honest, I could close that gap to him easy. I was faster and stayed on his back wheel for two laps. I had maybe one possibility to pass him cleanly and clearly, but I waited too long cause – I really wanted to make sure that I could pass him in a clear way, and that was maybe my fault to not be more aggressive.
Then, I made a big mistake and jumped too short on a jump – my body took a huge impact from that and I lost time on Ryan. At the end of this first race, I finished second and my team mate Alessandro finished 20th.
In the second moto it was Alesandro Lupino and Manuel Monni together. Manuel finished 8th and Alesando 25th.
In the third moto, I really lost my entire race right on the start – I didn’t have a good jump off the gate, and I was 15th in the first corner! After three laps I was in seventh, behind Steve Ramon. I passed Ramon and then Metcalfe and was in fifth, behind Clement Desalle (BEL). I closed the gap to him, but I wasn’t able to pass him. I finished fifth, and Manuel finished 15th!
Conclusion: After the weekend, some people say I made a mistake to ride the 350 instead of the 450. The 350cc is my bike and I had a great season on it. It was Saturday 11 September (the weekend of MX Grand Prix at Fermo) when I finally heard that I could ride the MXDN.
After my crash in Fermo, I had to rest two days with my bad ankle, and six days later we would fly to the USA, so I decided to use the free days for some good and hard training, and not for testing and trying to get a 450 bike ready. I have not ridden the 450 since January. There were probably places on the track where you had an advantage with the 450, but I’m staying 100% behind my 350 bike, and I still think we made a good decision.
Some people say my condition wasn’t like it should be. Maybe they are right. After I won the MX1 World Motocross title of 2010 in Brasil, and was not selected to race MXDN, I stopped with my training program. Then hearing at Fermo that I was going to be on MXDN for Team Italy, I wasn’t able to get my condition on the level it should be in such a short time.
Team Italy finished fifth overall, one place better than the year before, and I think both Alessandro and Manuel showed some great racing over the weekend in the USA. They did more than their best to fill the place of David Philippaerts, after David would not be able to join us in America! Our goal was top five, and we finished top five. I was happy that after so many problems during the weeks before the event, I was eventually able to ride for my country Italy at the Nations – I loved the whole week together with the Italian team!
Grazie to my KTM team, to Claudio de Carli who arranged everything in just a few days time, to KTM USA for the great help, to my team mates Alesandro Lupino and Manuel Monni for the nice week together, to the Italian and TC-fans who made the trip to Thunder Valley MX Park, to the USA and to the Italian federation. And of course – and for the great racing!
Everybody has been asking me about my holiday, but this year we don’t really have time for a nice holiday. I’m really busy the next few months, and I will start training for Supercross in two weeks.
Thanks everyone for your support the whole year, and I’m looking forward to next season!
p.s. Here is a short schedule of my upcoming activities:
- 2 October Xfighters Rome Italy
- 10 October Beach race Soverato Italy
- 17 October Race at my home track in Patti Sicily Italy
- 24 October Fanclub race San Cataldo Sicily Italy
- 2 – 6 November EICMA salon Milan Italy
- 13 November Supercross Genova Italy
- 19 – 21 November Supercross Bercy Paris France
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