Talking Point: Why team USA are NOT a B team for Ernee MXoN!

America had a bumpy road to get to Ernee, the last confirmed team of them all and more relief than expectation when the team was initially announced.

But, with every other team other than France missing a key rider on the eve of the event, the USA, for me, are very much back in contention, even if France remain favourites despite Renaux not being able to race on Sunday at the British GP after a crash on Saturday.

The Dutch have no Herlings, Spain lost their MX2 guy in Braceras, Italy have had Guadagnini out with injury and Forato was injured at the British GP (although he did race last weekend in the Italian championship).

Germany have Roczen and Laengenfelder but Tom Koch on paper isn’t the level of Christian Craig and while Belgium have three GP winners in their ranks, all three are MX2 riders with Everts on a 350 and Geerts riding the 450 but telling us he is still not totally 100% fit with his shoulder injury.

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Australia have Hunter Lawrence coming in off an injury that ended his SMX hopes and Mitch Evans, their factory MXGP rider, has been forced out with injury with former GP man Dean Ferris stepping in to fill that void.

So, as you can see, virtually everyone has some sort of issue coming in, and when you look at the US team on paper, the only real guy they are missing is Chase Sexton, that’s the equivalent on the Dutch missing Herlings, but the Dutch don’t have as big a pool of riders to choose from.

Yes, there is no Deegan, but the reality is RJ Hampshire was Deegan’s pace most of the year until his crash at Unadilla, even in SMX RJ was on that level again, he’s the real deal in MX2.

Aaron Plessinger was the top American in the 450 outdoors, finishing third, ahead of Sexton, who finished fourth with missing a couple of races. Plessinger was in this team either way and is out for revenge from 2018 at Red Bud.

Christian Craig is the biggest outlier, but only because he has been injured. The guy is an amazing natural talent on a bike. A 250 supercross champ, who was top five outdoors last year on 450 in a deeper field than 2023. Craig is class on a 450 and probably underrated outdoors, he is not just a supercross guy, he is quality outdoors too, especially on a 450 with that smooth style, a style that should suit GP tracks and he has been riding for nearly two months and doing so lately with his team US teammates getting on their speed.

The US are coming in with much less pressure and expectations than normal but make no mistake, America (Iike a number of Nations in 2023) are very much in contention and capable of a podium. And as usual, they are very, very confident they can challenge the pre-race favourites France and the Aussies for the win.

The USA can win this weekend in Ernee, they may need a little luck but at this race anything can happen and the three riders are fast enough to put themselves in contention, especially if their MX2 rider, RJ Hampshire, can get great results on the 250, which is crucial for the event.

Don’t count them out!

Article: Jonathan McCready

Image: Cudby