Starting with Johnny O'Mara, American riders on small-bore machines have historically shocked the Euro riders with their speed. Add newly crowned Motocross Lites champion Ryan Villopoto to that legend. The youngster put in a memorable ride in which he combined speed, style, race smarts and team savvy. Villopoto may have been a new face to the Europeans at Matterley Basin, but his third-place-overall standing in the MX1/MX2 moto meant he finished behind only Everts and Stewart on their 450s! His average speed for the race was over 44 mph! That isn't top speed, but average speed, and 44 mph is tough to average on Los Angeles freeways, let alone on a muddy track you've never seen before. Villopoto was less than five seconds behind Stewart at the finish, and he and Stewart, who had to charge forward after a fall, recorded lap times faster than moto winner Everts' best lap. The races got faster as the day progressed, and RV's second-place finish overall in the MX2/Open moto required an average speed of over 45 mph! Class overalls are not really scored, since it is a team event, but RV had the best combined score of all the MX2 riders.To say the news of James "Bubba" Stewart's first race overseas was interesting to the Euro fans would be akin to claiming men might be interested in women. No doubt many of the 85,000 fans who braved the weather and long lines were there solely for a chance to see Stewart and witness in person his atomic racing style. Stewart could hardly even move without having security hold back the throngs of chanting fans, and even his father was mobbed and followed with cheers of "Bubba's dad!" Still, in European minds at least, he needed to demonstrate to the world what a future champion he is.The American team, as usual, was directed by five-time 500cc (now equivalent to the MX1 class) World champion and Suzuki motocross team manager Roger DeCoster. He collected six victories in a row with the Belgium team at the MXdN (making his debut in '69) before moving to the U.S. and helping the Americans to many of their 17 victories. In fact, without his selling the concept to Honda and compiling teams entirely composed of his Team Honda riders, there might not have been a first win, let alone a U.S. history of des Nations glory. But throughout the Americans' involvement in this team competition, DeCoster's native Belgium has remained a powerhouse. Although you could say that Team USA prospered at Belgium's expense, DeCoster has remained staunchly behind the U.S. effort.In recent years, the U.S. and Belgian teams have been the consistent power players, with Britain, France and Italy having their respective brilliant years. As always, the Belgian threat loomed large. Ten-time World champ Everts placed side by side with MX1 regular Kevin Strijbos, who rode the smaller MX2 Suzuki RM-Z250 for this race while his Suzuki MX1 teammate Steve Ramon attacked the Open class. The Belgian team is directed by Joel Robert, a former champion racer and a factory Suzuki teammate and contemporary of DeCoster.The British team held a home-court advantage-their cheering section composed the lion's share of the spectators-but with Billy Mackenzie (MX1), Carl Nunn (Open class) and the promising young Tommy Searle (MX2), this wasn't their strongest team. The French team boasted new MX2 World champ Christophe Pourcel, his brother Sbastien (MX1) and 34-year-old '06 MX3 World champion Yves Demaria (Open class).A relatively new development is the arrival of podium-capable teams from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Estonia, which all have a relatively small motocross community but can field three talented riders with little problem. Of these teams, the most starved for victory were the New Zealand pilots, with World championship veterans Joshua "Lizzard" Coppins (Everts' number-one opponent) and Ben Townley, along with lesser-known rider Cody CooperThe entry list lacked two important names because of injuries: Chad Reed for Australia and Grant Langston for South Africa.The weekend began with thrilling qualifying sessions, which were won by Stewart (MX1), Villopoto (MX2) and Ramon (Open class), and two items of shocking news. First, Carmichael had decided he could not race, which spoiled expectations of the duel between the two legends. This left all the eyes on Stewart and company.Second, Everts appeared at the KTM press conference, where he was introduced as KTM's new Race Director for Motocross Activities. Only a few expected it, and the news left many overwhelmed and some disappointed, but Everts seemed focused on the last great objective of his career as a rider: to guide the Belgian team to victory for the 60th edition of the Trophy of the NationsThe spectators on hand will always remember this edition of the Motocross des Nations as a show at the sport's highest level. The notorious English climate, with its cloud-wind-rain-sun combo, was mild and offered a weekend interspersed with splashes of sun, even if the dawn rains made the the track's soil bouncy and muddy.The show started with the MX1 (450cc) and MX2 (250cc) pilots together. The MXdN is based on the formula of mixed classes. First the MX1 and MX2 race together, then the MX2 and the Open class (up to 650cc four-strokes, but legal for 450s at this race), and lastly, the MX1 with the Open class. Adding the team's five best moto scores gives the overall score. In this case, Stewart scored a pair of seconds while Villopoto nabbed a second and a third, so their total was nine points, and it was up to Tedesco to supply a low enough score to win, and his sixth-place finish clinched it. Even though Everts earned two first-place scores, his teammate Ramon obtained a fourth and a fifth place for a combined two-rider score of 11 points. But Strijbos was the third rider, and his best score was 11th-below Tedesco's worst score! As we mentioned earlier, the team felt that Strijbos did not have comparable equipment, but they may have also been guilty of underestimating the speed of the current crop of young MX2 riders. In '03, Everts won every MX2 moto he raced while riding the MX1 class on the same day! It would be understandable for the team to assume that any top MX1 runner would be a better choice than an average MX2 pilot. Or perhaps they didn't have a strong enough MX2 rider to pick. But Strijbos' MX1 teammate Ramon was beaten by three 250cc four-strokes in his combined moto. Nevertheless, the Belgian team's 22 points is closer to winning than it looks. One DNF or a crash by a rider intent on riding his own race and not thinking about the team, and the results could have been very different.