Justin Barcia, who has operated out of the Honda World Motocross team awning this weekend, took a third place finish in race three of the Motocross of Nations to take Team USA to podium success Nations in Lommel, Belgium yesterday. Evgeny Bobryshev and Rui Gonçalves also put on strong showings in their heats, although injury denied them of the results they were capable of.
In the opening race of the 66th edition of the Motocross of Nations, which is seen as the Olympics of off-road racing where racers compete as teams for their countries, it was the MX1 and MX2 class taking to the Lommel sand with Gonçalves getting a fantastic start into the lead. The Portuguese rider faltered after a few laps with the fractured shoulder he is carrying, but managed to finish the race in a creditable 12th place in some of the most demanding conditions, while Bobryshev battled with USA’s Ryan Dungey to take sixth position. World MX1 Champion Antonio Cairoli took the race win.
Race two was the MX2 and Open class where Barcia was the top Honda starter into third place. The American racer, who has never seen terrain like the notorious Belgian track before and made his Nations debut this weekend, battled on hard, but a collision with Ken de Dycker early on in the race left him with broken spokes in his wheel. With a handful of laps to go, the spokes locked the front end of his race machine and a helpless Barcia, who was in fifth place, nursed the machine to the pits where his crew cut the broken pieces out, enabling him to rejoin the moto to take 14th position. Jeffrey Herlings dominated the race, but other notable performances were Gariboldi Honda’s Aleksandr Tonkov, who battled from last place after crashing on lap one to 12th and teammate Max Anstie who had a consistent ride to finish ninth.
In the final race of the day, the MX1 and open class, all eyes were on Team USA, which is annually one of the dominant forces at this event. Barcia gated into third aboard his CRF450R at the end of the opening lap and rode consistently hard throughout to finish where he started at the chequered flag with the only top three result across the weekend for Team USA, which helped them onto the podium in third position. Bobryshev also made a good start and initially tussled with Barcia and Dungey, but a huge crash mid-race after battling with the torn ligament in his thumb forced him to retire. Gonçalves again rode a consistent race to 10th, helping Team Portugal to equal its performance of last year in 11th, while Anstie finished 11th for Team Great Britian, who finished in ninth position. Cairoli won the race but Team Germany won the Nations overall, with Team Belgium in second place.
Also working from the Honda World Motocross awning was Makoto Ogata, who raced the B-Final for Japan aboard his Team HRC machine, but a huge crash as he was caught out by the rough, sandy terrain put an end to their Nations challenge in his debut event, although he is hoping to be selected to race next year.
Justin Barcia #3 – Team USA: 3rd overall
“In my first race it was going pretty good and I was riding good, but I had a coming together with de Dycker and my spokes got all twisted in his wheel. Eventually on the second to last lap my front end locked up, and I had to get to the mechanics area to clip a couple of spokes, so I only finished 14th, which was a bummer, especially as I was doing pretty good. The collision was right in the beginning; he came across and I came in really fast, so there was nothing we could do. In the second moto things went much better, as I rode well until mid-race, where I got a little tight, but I put it together towards the end and got third, which was good. The track was really difficult and harsh; we don’t have a track like this in the USA, so it was really challenging. The guys at the front rode really well. We all did our best as a team and although I’m disappointed, those guys are really good on the sand, so it wasn’t a bad finish, but obviously we wanted to win. It was a crazy experience and I hope I get selected to race it again. The Honda World Motocross guys have treated us really well and being in their pits, hospitality and how they’ve taken care of us has been great, so we’re stoked on that. I’m pretty tired now and I pulled my groin a bit, so I’m looking forward to getting home and riding the 450 some more.”
Evgeny Bobryshev #43 – Team Russia: 7th overall
“The first race started well, as I got a fairly good jump into seventh and I was battling with (Ryan) Dungey. It was really difficult because I can’t get on with the bike so well, and with the sharp bumps I couldn’t hold on with my thumb. Dungey crashed and that handed me sixth, which was good. After that race Team Russia was fifth, which was great, so I was looking forward to putting on a good show in the last race. I got a great start into third, but then I made a mistake. The track was so rough and it was difficult not to crash, but as I hit a big bump with a hole I went down. I was catching Max Nagl when I got going again, but then after a few laps I had another big crash because I was trying to go quicker and get over the big holes, so I ended up going down hard. I hit my head and felt dizzy so I had to pull in, but we finished seventh, which was quite special. I am really happy this year is over, as it’s been so tough with injuries. The team worked so hard and stayed positive, so I am happy for that support. I also want to thank everyone who helps the team, all of the sponsors, the Japanese from Honda, Showa and Honda Europe, as it’s been a tough year for everybody. Now we are looking forward and we want to forget about this year to concentrate on 2013.”
Rui Gonçalves #31 – Team Portugal: 11th overall
“It was definitely a tough weekend and it was so difficult to come here with the injuries. I couldn’t prepare properly, in fact we weren’t even sure if I’d ride. I am happy to represent my country, but it was difficult as I had a lot of pain in the first moto. I rode tight and got arm pump, but I’ve had a long time off the bike, so there wasn’t much I could do. In the second race I had to dig deep, as my shoulder and neck were sore, although I finished both races, which I am happy with. We are happy to finish in a good position as Team Portugal and it’s been a long season with many tough things, but I’m still here even if sometimes it was really hard to dig deep with all the injures. I think 2012 was one of the toughest years of my career. Things were difficult at some stages, but I never gave up and we worked with what I had. Now it’s time to re cover, get things sorted and regroup for the future while thinking about all the positive things I did and the negative things to work on. I want to thank the team; everyone that was there for me and supported me throughout all the difficult moments. I want to thank my family, because without them it wouldn’t be possible, and I want to thank my mechanic who was always there. Everyone was a part of this and never lost faith in being behind me, so for that I am grateful. We had some great moments, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Makoto Ogata #37 – Team Japan: 26th overall
“It has been a good experience for me to race here, but in the B-Final I had a big crash, in which I have hurt my shoulder and back. I am disappointed we didn’t make the main races, but the track was very tough like nothing we have in Japan. I hope to be selected for the future so I can come and race for my country again. Thanks to the Honda World Motocross team for their help, and now I go back to Japan for a Japanese championship race next week.”