The MXdN Debate
I just finished reading "Point Counterpoint MXdN"—a debate between Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes about who should be on Team USA at the sand box in Lommel—and, for the first time in my life, I am in complete agreement with a Canadian. I would choose Ryan Dungey for MX1, James Stewart for MX3 and the winner of the 250 Championship—most likely to be either Justin Barcia or Blake Baggett—for the MX2 spot.
Unfortunately for Stewart, though, our team manager, Roger Decoster, seems to have written him off for this year’s team saying he is too “up and down.” That is hard to argue with, but the bottom line is that Stewart is one of the top sand riders in the history of the sport, and when healthy, he was perfect on the Suzuki. So how does Roger completely overlook Stewart? Perhaps Decoster never got over the heart attack Stewart gave him when he went down and finished 23rd in the final moto at the MXdN in Donnington back in 2008. USA still won—after Tim Ferry rallied and saved us—but maybe, for Decoster, the damage was done.
Most of the debate surrounding team selection this year is about who will go if Stewart does not. Some people are saying that the next best choice would be Justin Barcia. Based on Decoster’s recent interview with MXLarge, it seems he may be on that page as well. While I do not completely disagree with putting Barcia in the MX3 class due to his 2011 450 performances and sand riding ability, I do think Mike Alessi has earned that spot in 2012. Mikey has been there all year, week in and week out, racing for podiums and even stopped Dungey's moto win streak last weekend in Washougal. According to the standings right now—and that carries a lot of weight in my judgment—Mikey is the second best active 450 rider in the U.S. and should be on the team.
Although the teams have not been finalized, Belgium and France look to be our toughest competitors this year. The Belgians will probably throw Clement Desalle, Ken DeDycker and Jeremy vanHorebeek or Joel Roelants at us, and the French will be solid with guys like Christophe Pourcel, Gautier Paulin, Xavier Boog, Jordi Tixier and Marvin Musquin to choose from. On top of their talent, they will also have a huge, home field advantage with the deep sand of Lommel being a test track for most European teams. Still, whether we send Barcia, Alessi, Tomac, Stewart, Weimer, Short or even a rusty Ryan Villopoto, Team USA will be the favorite to win our eighth straight Chamberlin Trophy.
If you want to read Weege and Matthes' great debate over at RacerX check out "Bench Racing Ammo: Point/Counterpoint MXdN."