You'd Better Win...
It’s never too early for the fans of the sport to start arguing and discussing the annual Olympics of motocross AKA- the Motocross des Nations. And by the way, I know it’s now called Motocross OF Nations but you’re not going to get me to use that. It’s always been “des” and always will be “des” in my heart and that’s that.
Anyway, team manager Roger DeCoster gave an INTERVIEW to Motocross Action website where he was asked about his choices for the team as of right now. The team is going to be named in about three weeks so some things could change between now and then but this much we do know. Going off Roger’s comments, he’s leaning towards Ryan Dungey (obviously), Blake Baggett (he of the 18-point lead in the 250 outdoors) and Justin Barcia for the MX3 spot. This last name is a bit of a shock given the names that he could have said. Barcia is currently racing the 250 class so bumping him up is a bit of a surprise. Yes, he’s signed up for that class full-time in 2013 and yes, he raced a few 450 nationals last summer for Honda but still, DeCoster’s comments indicate that he’d rather go with a rookie rider who’s not even racing that size of motorcycle than the current group of riders he could choose from.
For example, James Stewart is scheduled to come back for Southwick in two weeks as his hand is still not where he wants it to be (obvious for anyone who was at Redbud) and yet DeCoster spoke of him as if he was a wild card and RD didn’t want that. Then there is Mike Alessi (currently second behind Dungey in the points) and Roger wasn’t sure about Mike’s team and machine being up to the task (Alessi rides for a privateer team). Jake Weimer, a tad behind Alessi in the points and a past MXDN champion, wasn’t even mentioned.
DeCoster made mention that the 250 riders are turning better lap times than the 450 guys (save for Dungey) and therefore he’s more eager to bump one of those kids up to the big bike because the times speak for themselves. And Barcia, as we’ve seen with our one sand track, goes well in the soft stuff, which is where the location this year is. The deep sands of Lommel, Belgium await the guys. The American track of Southwick is hardly what I would call a match for Lommel however and Barcia is fast there because of a combination of sand skills AND the fact he grew up on the track. Justin did win a moto there last year on the 450 so there is that.
We know the story by now, Stewart swept the first four motos of the year and then crashed out in Lakewood. He tried to race the next week but couldn’t. Took three weeks off, came out at RedBud and wasn’t anywhere near his early season pace. It was then decided that Stewart would take another leave and try again at Southwick in three weeks. In this journo’s eyes, there is only one rider that has ever gone as fast as Stewart at Southwick and his initials are R and C.
To casually write off Stewart as DeCoster did in the interview indicates that Roger doesn’t believe that Stewart can get up to speed and that to me is troubling. Stewart, when healthy, is absolutely one of the very best racers anywhere in the world. I can’t believe that DeCoster would just not think that the second 450 spot is Stewart’s to lose (instead of to gain) if he doesn’t get up to speed by Unadilla (which is the race after Southwick) then you start looking around.
As far as Alessi, well DeCoster’s managed Mike before and he’s right in wondering about the team’s ability to compete. The costs for each team are pretty high as the AMA doesn’t pay for very much. But Mike Genova, Motoconcepts team manager, is on the record as saying he would spend whatever it took to get Mike there with the same amount of support that the other teams have. It could be that Roger just doesn’t believe in Mike and his program, which is heavily influenced by father Tony. It may be a case of been there, done that for DeCoster.
By so casually dismissing Alessi and Stewart and his mention of sending a complete rookie on a bike size he hasn’t raced all year, one hopes the Man knows what he’s doing or the second (and maybe even third guessing) guessing will be strong if USA isn’t able to pull out another win.