The American Motorcyclist Association has announced the three riders who will represent America at the 2011 Motocross of Nations, September 17-18 at Le Circuit du Puy de Poursay in Saint Jean D'Angely, France. Team USA is Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto and Blake Baggett, managed by KTM's Roger DeCoster. Thirty countries send their best three riders to compete in three classes (MX1, MX2, MX3) that are based on the FIM World Motocross GP Championship. America will be competing for its seventh consecutive victory at the "Olympics of Motocross", which has been running, without interruption, since 1947. Team USA is the all-time leader in victories with 21 since 1981.
Dungey ('09, '10) and Villopoto ('06-'08) have been on three MXoN winning teams but never as teammates. With three rounds left, Villopoto currently leads Dungey by seven points in the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship standings. The battle of the Ryans marks the first time since Jeff Emig and Jeremy McGrath in 1996 that two American riders who were locked in a close 450 class championship battle were chosen to represent Team USA.
"As demonstrated by their performances this summer, these three riders are among the best that the United States has to offer," said AMA Supercross Director Kevin Crowther. "We're confident they will do their country proud at this prestigious event."
The team event combines the individual finishes of all three riders with each rider competing in two motos. The worst score of the six finishes is thrown out. Even though each country is competing for the Chamberlain Trophy, Villopoto said the event feels like USA vs. The World. "Once we go over there we have a target on our back as a team," he said. "We've won it so many times and when we go overseas it's their time to show what they have. There's more pressure and it feels like it's us three against everyone else."
Blake Baggett is the lone rookie on the team. With five wins in nine rounds, the 250 class rider sits third in the AMA MX points behind Great Britain's, Dean Wilson and South Africa's Tyla Rattray. Baggett said he has no idea what to expect. "[Ryan] Dungey talked to me about it this past weekend," he said. "He said 'No worries, just ride like you do here. Do the best you can and it will be ours.' " Dungey said he can't stress the 'all or nothing' strategy of winning this event. "Never give up," said. Trey Canard crashed in both of his motos last year. He could have given up. Because he didn't give up is the reason we won."
Originally scheduled for September 24-25, the event was moved up one week so it didn't coincide with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The September 17-18 weekend falls just one week after the conclusion of the AMA Motocross Championship at Pala Raceway, giving Team USA a logistical obstacle to overcome in preparation. "It's going to be a quick turnaround," Dungey said. "I think we're going to have to ship bikes before the season is over with. It's quick but nothing we can't handle."
Other team announcements include, Team Australia (Chad Reed, Brett Metcalfe and Matt Moss), Team Great Britain (Dean Wilson, Tommy Searle and Brad Anderson) and Team Germany (Max Nagl, Ken Roczen and Marcus Schiffer). The home country team will consist of Marvin Musquin, Steven Frossard and Gautier Paulin.
The last time the event was held in Saint Jean D'Angely, France, in 2000, Team USA won with future X Games athletes Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Ryan Hughes representing.