Belgium’s options for the Nations
With Kevin Strijbos out for the rest of the season, Belgium will need to pick someone to replace him to ride the motocross of nations. We will look at the possible riders that Joel Smets can select from to ride along with Jeremy Van Horebeek and Julien Lieber.
Brent has had a solid season in his rookie MX2 year and he is a big guy, they could probably put on him a 450 and he could then be the open rider. Brent is a rider for the future and if he gets the opportunity to ride for the nations this year he will then be more prepared for the event in the future. The problem for Brent is that he needs to get an operation on his knee as soon as the season is over so he will be back ready for next year. Will he put the operation on hold until after the Nations? Who knows, but Brent would be a solid pick for Belgium.
Yes, Jens hasn’t had the best of seasons in MX2, certainly not the results he would have wanted but he is still fast. He just got his best ride of the year in Mantova with a fifth place in the second moto which is encouraging and will be more confident than ever. If Jens was to be selected it would definitely be best putting him on the 450. Jens is a huge guy and suits the bike more for sure and if he rides like he can then he could certainly surprise some people at the nations.
Damon has been contesting in the EMX250 championship this year and in my opinion is probably the fastest rider in the class – he has a lot of bad luck and it would be very typical if something happened to him at the nations such as a first corner crash. The problem with picking Damon would be that he would need to ride a 250. I wouldn’t suggest putting Lieber on a 450 either so picking Damon would mean that the rider in the open class would be riding a 250 machine which would be a massive disadvantage for Belgium.
Jeremy Delince is a talented Belgian and has been competing in National championships for the last few years, he is competing in the ADAC championship this year. He just had his best result at the weekend with a third place finish. The problem with picking Jeremy is that he hasn’t rode GP’s in a while (he did ride a few GP’s for 24MX last year as a replacement rider). It would be a lot of pressure for Jeremy to handle but I believe he is riding Assen GP so let’s see what sort of performance he can put in there. He has extra motivation now knowing a Des Nation’s spot is available.
It may seem a bit risky to pick Steve Ramon but I believe he has to be considered, he has plenty of experience and has rode the nations plenty of times before. Steve still riders for fun and rides some National races – he beat Tyla Rattray a few weekends ago in Belgium. If he is the one to be picked then he could start preparing for the Nations by training more. With his close links at Suzuki he might even be able to get a Factory bike for the event. However, picking a younger rider like Brent or Jens could be a smarter decision because then in the future they will be more prepared for the event.
It will be interesting to see who Joel Smets will pick for the nations but the decision should be made soon. If he picks an MX2 rider to ride a 450 at the nations then they will need to start preparing as soon as possible to get comfortable with the bike. It is a real shame that Desalle, Strijbos and De Dycker are all injured for the event. It will be hard for Belgium to get on the podium now but they always seem to step it up for the nations so don’t rule them out just yet!
Article: Andy McKinstry