Prior to this past weekend’s round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Unadilla, the AMA announced the lineup that will represent the U.S. at this year’s Motocross of Nations at Thunder Valley Motocross Park in Lakewood, Colorado. Heading the list was defending Motocross of Nations champion and current 450-class points leader Ryan Dungey, who will return as the team captain in the MX1 class aboard his Rockstar Makita Suzuki. Serving as the MX2 entry for Team USA will be 2008 East Lites Supercross Champion Trey Canard on a GEICO Powersports Honda. Meanwhile, Andrew Short will round out the team, competing in the MX3 division on his Red Bull Honda.Once again, Roger DeCoster will manage the team with the help of Mitch Payton at the 62nd running of this legendary event. DeCoster has won an amazing 16 MXoN titles as a rider and 20 as a team manager and he feels this year’s team will be favored to win.
“I believe this is one of the strongest teams the U.S. has ever fielded,” said DeCoster. “Each of these riders has earned their spot on the team thanks to tremendous efforts thus far in the championship. With his win last year, Ryan will lead the team in MX1 while Canard and Short will serve as strong complements in MX2 and MX3.”"All of these riders have good personalities that will let them get along just fine, not try to impress anybody too much and do something stupid,” DeCoster added. “When you race in this event, the fact that you represent your country, a lot of people are going to come up to them and remind them about the history of the team and all the wins and how important it is to keep the thing going. It puts the pressure on, so the main thing for them is to ride within their abilities.”
And while the selection of Dungey and Canard were no brainers, there was some question leading up to the announcement as to who the MX3 selection would be. Most agree that Short was the logical choice. And while he has yet to claim his first big win, he’s been one of the most solid and consistent performers during the last few seasons and currently sits second in points in the 450 outdoor series behind Dungey. It doesn’t hurt that this year’s race will take place in his back yard at Thunder Valley, giving Shorty somewhat of a home field advantage. This will mark his first time to race the MXoN.”This is a dream come true,” said Short. “I never thought they would ever have a national in Colorado, let alone the Motocross des Nations. It’s a huge honor to be a part of the team and I’m thankful I will be there and be riding with these awesome teammates.”
Some thought James Stewart might be picked to ride the MX3 class, although he hasn’t raced the outdoor series since 2008. He did post an amazing 24-moto sweep of the series that year, and despite the fact that he has been sitting on the sidelines for the past seven months, he is, after all, James Stewart! In fact, Stewart came to Unadilla thinking he had a chance to be selected, so long as he produced good results. However, the team selection was unexpectedly announced before the first 450 moto in New York, leaving Stewart on the outside looking in.On Saturday evening, Stewart’s team, San Manuel Yamaha, issued a press release that said the following:Hoping that a successful return to the track would earn him the opportunity to ride for Team USA in late September at Motocross des Nations (Lakewood, CO), Stewart was disappointed but understanding when they decided to finalize and announce Team selection earlier today. “The past seven months have been very frustrating not being able to race. I looked forward to returning to the Motocross National Series and was hopeful that I could earn my place on Team USA for Motocross des Nations. I’m really disappointed as I was really hoping to ride for Team USA. But I understand that they have to make a decision and they haven’t seen me ride in a while. And there are a lot of guys who have raced a full season that deserve a chance. I wish Team USA the best for a successful run at the title” said Stewart. Team Manager Larry Brooks had this to say “I’m disappointed for James. He’s worked so hard to get back to racing the remaining Motocross National Series. And we were led to believe that they would give him a chance to prove himself before any decisions were made. It’s not uncommon for riders to miss races during a season due to injury. And in my opinion, a guy with his level of talent on a motorcycle deserves a chance to earn a spot on the Team.”
In the meantime, Dungey, Canard and Short are charged with keeping Team USA’s win streak intact – which currently rests at five-straight. As usual, the Yanks will be the favorites, especially with the home advantage. The Unadilla race gave us a glimpse of the competition the U.S. squad will be up against when Belgian rider Clement Desalle gave Dungey a race during the second moto. Desalle currently sits second in points in the MX1 division of the World Championships behind defending champ Antonio Cairoli, and he put up a good fight in Unadilla; however, in the end he was no match for Dungey’s speed and stamina.Interestingly, Cairoli, the current points leader in the MX1 division, and fellow Italian David Philippaerts, third in MX1 standings, were not chosen for the Italian team due to sponsorship reasons, leaving one of the American’s biggest challengers severely depleted. However, there will be plenty of other worthy opponents, including the Aussies, which will see Chad Reed, Brett Metcalfe (currently third in standings in the AMA 450 class), and little known Dean Ferris manning the ship. Reed and Metcalfe both have plenty of laps around the Thunder Valley course, so it might as well be a home race for those guys too.This year’s event will take place on September 25-26, just outside of Denver, Colorado, so be sure to get your tickets early and support Team USA.