LOMELL, Belgium – At the 66th Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, Team USA worked through the treacherous sand of Lommel, Belgium, to finish on the podium in third place.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett, representing Team USA for the second-consecutive year, finishing with a 14-6 moto score to secure second-overall in the MX2 classification.
Baggett and Team USA arrived in Belgium knowing the sandtrack would serve as an equalizer for the international field. He started off with a fairly eventless qualifying race on Saturday where he raced to third place. Baggett’s third was the best finish for Team USA in qualifying, leading them to seventh overall gate pick for Sunday. The first of three motos saw the MX2 and MX1 class face off. Baggett got off the gate smooth, but was quickly pushed back by the larger MX1 bikes. Baggett immediately went to work to make his way forward, but lost his front end on lap three and crashed. Undeterred, he began to once again make his way towards the front from outside the top-20. He progressively made his way through the field and finished in 14th position.
“The track is beyond explanation,” said Baggett. “I learned a lot after the qualifying heat and the track is epic. I had the inside gate for the first moto and got a decent jump. I had a small get-off that kept me from climbing into the top-10. It was insane how much dirt and roost I took on, but I was happy with how I came through the pack.”
Even though Baggett had less than an hour in between motos, he knew he had a job to do. The second moto was against the Open class, puttinghim again at a disadvantage. Baggett’s KX250F got him off to a great start ashe rounded the first lap within the top-10. He began to find a rhythm in the ever-changing sand and fought hard to finish in sixth. Although racing amongst 450 machines, Baggett was the third best MX2 rider in Moto 1 and second best in Moto 2, giving him second overall in the MX2 classification.
“The track was ruthless out there,” said Baggett. “I got abetter start in the second moto and the track was just getting nasty. The holes were so deep and I just kept plugging away. I fought with everything I had andcame away with sixth. This year was an awesome experience and I learned a lotfrom watching the best of the best. The closest thing we get to this back home is our public beaches!”
Known to be a hub for motocross in Europe, the country of Belgium is also known for its endless sand. Baggett and Team USA knew that this would be a challenge and came over a week in advance to get some testing in thevastly different conditions.
They were able to test at Lommel, as well as two other tracks in the region, but riding sand takes years of practice to master the technique. All three members rode extremely well, but some bad luck keptthem from the top step of the podium.
Baggett and Team USA came over to Europe with one goal in mind, to win. They have time and time again proven that Team USA are the fastest riders on the planet and were noticeably disappointed on winning bronze medals. Although Baggett had just wrapped up the 250 motocross championship back in the United States, he is always striving to better himself as a rider and saw this year as a great learning experience. Next year, Team USA will return to Teutchenthal, Germany for the 2013 Motocross of Nations and will be hungrier than ever to return home with gold.
“I’m really proud of our guys, I thought they rode awesome,” said Mitch Payton, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team Manager. “I am really proud of Blake. He rode strong in both motos and came back strong aftertipping over. We obviously came here to win, but coming over and just practicing in conditions like this just isn’t enough. The luck wasn’t quite onour side today, but our team did great.”