The 64th edition of the Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations started with the MX1, MX2 and Open class qualifying races and it was Team USA who got the first spot at the end of the day.
Germany was second ahead of Puerto Rico, while Belgium and France finished fourth and fifth respectively.
The winners of the qualifying heats were Tony Cairoli for Team Italy in MX1, Trey Canard for Team USA in MX2 and other American Andrew Short in the Open class.
Right before qualifying started, all the teams were presented at the start of the Thunder Valley track and the international crowd gave them a warm welcome unveiling to be a confidence booster for the three eventual winners of the day.
After being the first one to choosing the starting gate, Gautier Paulin took the holeshot and put France in the lead of the MX1 qualifying heat. However, already in the opening lap, 2010 MX1 World Champion Cairoli overtook the Frenchman and brought Italy the first victory of the weekend.
Paulin was second but Brett Metcalfe overtook the French placing Australia in the second position until the end of the race. Paulin fought until the end to get the second position back but he finally crossed the finish line less than a second after Metcalfe.
Ryan Dungey did not have a really good start but he overtook up to six riders placing USA in a final fourth position after obtaining the fastest lap of the heat in the penultimate lap.
Jonathan Barragan, riding for Spain, got a consistent fifth position, followed by Belgian Steve Ramon, Estonian Tanel Leok and Portuguese Rui Gonçalves. Nicholls for Great Britain was ninth, despite the team being picked to start from last at the morning’s ballot, and completing the top ten was Josh Coppins for New Zealand.
The MX2 qualifying race was characterized by the dogfight for victory in between Canard and Ken Roczen. The American took the lead at the very beginning of the race but Roczen managed to overtake Canard with only three laps to go.
The German then made a mistake and lost the leadership, with Canard taking the first victory for Team USA being Germany the second classified.
Third position was for Belgian Jeremy Van Horebeek, who did a really consistent race, and fourth was for Zach Osborne from Puerto Rico. MX2 World Champion Marvin Musquin did not have a good start and rode fifth from the beginning to the end of the qualifying race.
Ecuadorian Martin Davalos was sixth, followed by Latvian Matiss Karro, while Italian Alessandri Lupino, who had to give all his best in order to improve his initial fourteenth position, finished eighth.
Team Australia, who was 21st in today’s balloting, was ninth courtesy of Dean Ferris, and completing the top ten was Harri Kullas for team Finland.
In the Open qualifying heat Short was the clear dominator from beginning to end and handed Team USA the second success of the day, even being the 13th country to choose the gate for today’s races.
New Zealander Ben Townley did also a superb race finishing second but he crossed the finish line nine seconds after the American.
Also Kyle Regal from Puerto Rico did an excellent race and kept his third initial position until the end of the heat. Fourth and fifth were GP winners Max Nagl (Germany) and Clement Desalle (Belgium).
Brazilian Antonio Balbi finished sixth ahead of Swiss Arnuad Tonus and British Brad Anderson, while Japanese Yoshitaka Atsuta contributed in the classification of his country with a solid ninth position. Completing the top ten was Australian champion Jay Marmont.
French Xavier Boog was not fortunate today and could not finish the race due to a muscular problem to his calf. Fortunately, the young Frenchman will be back on his Kawasaki machine as his injury is not a serious one.
Nations Qualifying Top Ten Qualifying Results:
3. Puerto Rico
8. New Zealand
9. Great Britain