Team USA were supposed to be the clear favourites for the MXoN on patriotic home turf at Red Bud. Even if they weren’t all guaranteed to win their class, they were going to be class winning contenders and the strongest team overall on paper, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday on a technical Red Bud course as the versatile GP riders showed why they deserve more respect and coverage in America.
It began badly with Eli Tomac down in tenth in qualifying a full six seconds off the pace of fastest man Herlings. Then in the race, Tomac battled Searle and Paulin for fifth but couldn’t find his way by as his pre-race rival Herlings went down in turn one.
But Herlings proved why he is the world motocross champion and the fastest man on the planet, tearing through the field from dead last and, as the moto reached the final couple of laps, had Tomac next on his passing list when the American’s bike expired. Herlings, denied his opportunity to pass Tomac from last, then made short work of Searle and Paulin to come all the way from last to third in 20 minutes.
Tony Cairoli meanwhile showed Ken Roczen he still had some tricks to learn as the 33 year-old eased away from the 23 year old German to win by 21 seconds. The Italian showing the American public why he is one of the greatest riders of all time.
America’s rookie Aaron Plessinger looked to be getting USA back up front as he led MX2 but he had Ferrandis and Lawrence giving him heavy pressure until he crashed hard on an uphill triple, fortunately he was unhurt and got up to finish eleventh but it wasn’t the result he or America wanted after Tomac’s DNF.
The pressure was then all on Justin Barcia to bring the bike home in one piece and in a good position to avoid the USA going to the B final! Barcia did his job well but couldn’t quite get by Dutchman Glenn Coldenhoff who rode superbly despite many feeling he couldn’t run with Barcia this weekend.
So, the USA have had a big wake-up call at Red Bud, it’s not going to be as easy as they thought, but they are still in there and they will fight harder than ever tomorrow. Today will have hurt their national pride, they are still the home team and will stop at nothing to win in front of their huge, vocal support across the vast and impressive Red Bud circuit.
Don’t write the Americans off yet- they will be out for individual and collective revenge on Sunday!