Brainstorm | Top 11 Teams at the 2018 MXON

By Billy Rainford

Team France takes top honours for the 5th straight time at Red Bud.

MXON 2018 at Red Bud has come and gone. Team France were champions for the 5th time in a row — that’s a dynasty! In this column, I’ll give my thoughts on the performances of the top 10 teams, as well as Team Canada.

10. Germany (78 Points) – Ken Roczen (MXGP), Henry Jacobi (MX2), Max Nagl (Open).

Germany’s #60 Max Nagl.

These guys all had their troubles and did not finish where they should have. (Yes, there is a lot of that to go around at this event.) You really need to have things go your way to win at the MXON. On paper, these guys are fighting for a podium, every time.

Kenny crashed and took down Canada’s Jess Pettis in the first moto, but he qualified well in 2nd spot behind Italy’s superhero, Antonio Cairoli.

Jacobi was left at the gate in one of his races and Nagl had troubles of his own. Like I said, things have to go your way when it’s all on the line, and it just didn’t for Team Germany.

9. Estonia (71 Points) – Tanel Leok, Hardi Roosiorg, Harri Kullas.

Estonia’s #24 Harri Kullis.

These guys were pitted out of the Redemption Racing rig. There were some familiar faces helping out, in Josh Snider, Dave Snider, and Andreas Konrad.

Josh said they were an amazing group of people to work with. Leok raced his 18th straight MXON, I was told! Let that sink in.

Canada has historically battled these guys, so to see them up inside the top 10 is a solid finish for them. Eventually, they will have to do it without a Leok in the line-up, but I guess 2018 wasn’t that year.

Kullas is legit and there are rumours of an Estonian possibly making an appearance at the Canadian Nationals in 2019. We’ll see…

8. Spain (63 Points) – Jose Butron, Jorge Prado, Carlos Campano.

Spain’s #53 Jorge Prado.

Newly crowned MX2 world champion, Jorge Prado, may have been the standout rider of the event. He was up front on his 250 against the top 450 guys every time he was on the track! It was impressive. Actually, he finished 3-3 in his races, and that’s amazing, and he’s only 17.

Butron and Campano kind of got lost in that 15-25 range and it was really hard to standout in the mess back there. There was so much wet sand back there that I don’t even remember noticing either of them.

7. Belgium (53 Points) – Clement Desalle, Jago Geerts, Jeremy Van Horbeek.

Belgium’s #10 Clement Desalle.

Desalle (5-26) and Geerts (13-18) were both 6th in their respective classes. Van Horbeek was their most consistent rider with 6-11 motos.

Motocross is like a national sport in Belgium, so you know they won’t take 7th all that well. Oh, and where was Jurgen? I still have a Team Belgium pit shirt in a size medium to trade back for my classic MX Forum Team Canada one he talked me into trading way back when at the after party.

6. USA (49 Points) – Eli Tomac, Aaron Plessinger, Justin Barcia.

Team USA’s #25 Eli Tomac.

Hmm, really didn’t think I’d be talking about these 3 until closer to the podium or at the top of it, but Team USA finished 6th overall at Red Bud. Yes, the track where AP went 2-2 to Dylan Ferrandis in the 250, Eli Tomac went 1-2, and Bam Bam finished 4th overall.

Again, like I said earlier, breaks need to roll your way at this event, and the Americans didn’t really have any luck in the wet and sandy conditions of the Red Bud track.

There was so much sand brought in that the track resembled Deschambault more than any Red Bud I’ve seen in the past. Of course, everyone has to race the same track, but an argument could be made that the conditions favoured the Europeans a little.

Anyway, if the US wants to return to its former glory days at this event, something needs to be done and I don’t know what that thing is.

These guys aren’t racing nearly as much MX as the rest of the world. All the MXGP guys also race their national championships and don’t have Supercross on their minds like the Americans.

Either way, they got spanked pretty soundly this year and it will be interesting to see what they do, heading to the sand track at Assen in Holland in 2019. Also, they may not have Roger DeCoster steering the ship.

I kept waiting for Eli to “make his move,” but that move never came. He looked like he was trying but just couldn’t make up ground on the leaders.

Plessinger hit the ground and was left fighting back in the sandblasted areas outside the top 15 each time.

Barcia was 9-13 in his motos and, although he had the support of the fans, didn’t look like a threat, except in his qualifier.

5. Great Britain (48 Points) – Tommy Searle, Ben Watson, Max Anstie.

Great Britain’s #8 Ben Watson.

It was a weird MXON for Team GB. Anstie went 1-1 in front of his home crowd last year but really struggled this time. His highlight was flying off the track and then absolutely covering James Lissimore with mud from head to toe as he grabbed a handful of throttle in the soft dirt. OK, maybe that wasn’t his or James’ highlight, but I thought it was funny.

Anstie had a first turn crash, Searle had an engine go on him, and Watson had their best result with a 4th in moto 2.

They were well behind after the first 2 motos, but it was likely they would have Searle’s DNF as their throwaway, and they did.

4. Australia (48 Points) – Kirk Gibbs, Hunter Lawrence, Mitchell Evans.

Australia’s #17 Hunter Lawrence.

Wow, Hunter Lawrence was impressive! He’s signed to race on the Geico Honda team this coming year and it looks like they made a very good choice. Hunter finished 2-8 in his motos and led the team to a 4th overall.

Evans and Gibbs got lost in the sandy mess, but both looked good and were both inside the top 15 for scores that counted. Gibbs took a 33rd in the final moto and that one got scrapped.

I think this was a very solid finish for this group of 3, and they should be proud of that effort.

3. The Netherlands (41 Points) – Jeffrey Herlings, Calvin Vlaanderen, Glenn Coldenhoff.

The Netherland’s #6 Glenn Coldenhoff went undefeated.

Jeffrey Herlings went 1-2.

Herlings and Coldenhoff couldn’t do any better than they did. They won each of their motos and someone had to get 2nd in the one where they raced each other. 1-1-1-2 were their combined scores. That’s perfect, folks!

Unfortunately, Vlaanderen’s first moto crash took him out of that one and the final moto, so they were mathematically out of contention.

We can have this debate if you’d like, but Jeffrey Herlings is the fastest motocross racer on the planet right now. Did you watch his qualifying ride from last place?!

It looked like he was going to make a late charge to go after his teammate out front in that final moto, but he closed in but didn’t get close enough to battle, and that was probably a good thing for the team.

If things had gone slightly differently, these guys would have dethroned the French team.

2. Italy (37 Points) – Antonio Cairoli, Michele Cervellin, Alessandro Lupino.

Italy’s #19 Antonio Cairoli.

Cairoli was at it again. He won his qualifier and then led to the first corner of moto 1 but slid out and took a ton of guys out with him. He remounted and took 6th by the flag to save the team. He was 4th in the last moto but was way behind the lead 2 Dutch riders and Gautier Paulin in 3rd.

I don’t know why, but every time I’d look at the track it seemed the big #21 was right there. Lupino finished a solid 5th in the final moto.

I didn’t really notice Cervellin out there on the #20 but he was 10-14 and his 14 is the one they scrapped. Not bad.

They were only 2 points behind the winners and both teams scrapped their MX2/Open 2nd moto worst scores, so this one was a nail-biter to the flag.

1. France (35 Points) – Gautier Paulin, Dylan Ferrandis, Jordi Tixier.

France’s #1 Gautier Paulin.

Well, they came in on a streak and they finished it out with it in tact. Paulin has to be 50 now, doesn’t he?! Ferrandis is fast at Red Bud (he wont the national this year) and Tixier is the veteran whose 32nd place in the 2nd moto was the score they tossed.

I think there would have been less excitement had Marvin Musquin been their Open class rider instead of Tixier, as I believe he was good for better scores than 15-32, but that’s to be debated until next year.

These guys did what they had to do and they were super-pumped when Paulin crossed the line in that 3rd and final moto and they knew they’d done it again.

11. Canada (99 Points) – Colton Facciotti, Jess Pettis, Tyler Medaglia.

I hate to have to say this again, but our guys rode much better than their scores reflect. Again, luck needs to meet skill somewhere in the middle for teams to do well a the MXON. Our guys had the skill again this year, but luck bit each of them in the ass…actually, it was mostly in the shoulders.

#37 Colton Facciotti.

Colton crashed a couple times in his qualifier and got hit by another rider on Saturday, hurting his shoulder, and he really wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to finish even one of his 2 motos.

Even so, he still scored the team’s best finish with a 9th in moto 1 after he rode as far up as 3rd (almost 2nd) in it. His scores were 9-26. Colton finished 9th in MXGP.

#38 Jess Pettis.

Jess really made a name for himself out there this weekend. Although his motos show 20-21 finishes, he showed speed that had a lot of people taking notice of the #38 out there, both times.

Moto 1, he went from 33rd up to 21st, and in Moto 2 he went from crashing in turn 1 to 20th. Jess finished 9th in MX2.

In that first moto crash, he actually hurt his shoulder and was trying to downplay the level of pain he was in, but the medics came over at the end of the day and told him his shoulder had popped out when they were taping it before his 2nd moto. Our guys were in rough shape!

#39 Tyler Medaglia.

Tyler had the fastest lap time of the 3 Canadians and didn’t get a chance to show what he’s made of this year. After running up in the top 5 early in the 2nd moto, Tyler had slipped to 9th but had a nice gap on the riders behind him (including Barcia) when he took a hard crash in the off-camber section.

He remounted, got the bike re-fired and headed out without really losing more than 1 position. Unfortunately, the bike blew a hole in the rad release bolt and spewed coolant all over the place, ending his day with a fried motor.

The team came together and replaced the engine with the help of a part from Team USA (thank you). Tyler, himself, spent the break getting checked out by the Alpinestars Medical Unit (they saw all 3 riders) and made it back in time to head for his final moto.

He made a pretty good save down the start straight but was way back in the pack and was 31st at the end of lap 1.

He made it up to 23rd by the flag and was really mad at himself after that moto 2 crash. Tyler finished 15th in the Open class.

As you can see, these were not ideal conditions for a top Canadian finish, but the effort given by each rider has to be applauded. Nobody complained, nobody whined. They all got treated and went out and fought for every place out there on the battle field. And that’s really what this was — a battle. We can all ask for better results, but we can’t ask for more effort. These guys left it all out there on the track and did the maple leaf proud.

The MXON is an amazing event. If you still aren’t sure about that, get yourself to Holland next year and then we can have this conversation.

Huge thanks to Kourtney Lloyd and Team Canada MXON for all their hospitality and for allowing me to be in all of their faces throughout the weekend.