Monster girl ready with 2 min warning board.

Qualifying and Racing
Come Saturday afternoon and the action starts to get serious with 3 seperate qualifying races for MX1, MX2 and MX Open to decide the 20 nations who will contest the 66th edition of the MXDN.
MX1 local boy Antonio Cairoli, who has a house in Lommel, bases himself with lovely girlfriend Jill in Belgium during the season, disappears off to an easy victory. Dungey places well to set team USA up for a good gate pick.
MX2 former World Champion Ken Roczen, back in Europe after campaigning in America, show’s why he has won the MX2 class at the MXDN for the past two years with another easy victory.
The Open class sees pre race favourite Jeffery Herlings racing for Netherlands, hit the gate and start dead last. Within 1 lap he is up to 4th and soon races to the front to score a confident victory. Behind him drama unfolds as Team USA’s Justin Barcia blows a soft berm on his Honda 450cc,ending up entangled in the banners and green netting right in front of Team USA’s Chuck Sun, who shouts to other spectators not to touch the bike, but after 30 + seconds of Barcia struggling to untangle his bike, Chuck moves a trackside stake to clear the green fencing near Barcia’s rear wheel and this in viewed as outside assistance by the FIM and Barcia was disqualified from the results.

Barcia’s crash through banner courtesy of mxptv.com

Chuck Sun was horrified to hear of this afterwards, and stated at no time did he touch the rider or bike and it was safety issue as bike and rider were strewn across the racing line! I just guess it was an unweilding official looking to make his mark on the race. Fortunately the exploits of Dungey and Baggett meant Team USA had qualified for the main event, so Barcia’s DNF could be discarded!
In the post race press conference, Chuck was swooped upon by all the leading journalists looking for his angle on the Barcia story,  Team USA vs Europe conspiracy threads etc!

Team USA press conference after qualifying

After the qualifiers Team Germany were first to the gate, followed by Belgium and Italy, Netherlands, France, Gt Britain, USA, Estonia, Russia and Australia.
Saturday evening was taken up with the Youthstream Awards in the massive VIP tent.

Youthstream Awards ceremony

Chuck was invited onto MX Live TV show, hosted in the massive Monster Energy rig to give his views on Lommel and Team USA’s expectations.

Paul Malin interviews Chuck Sun MX-Live TV show.

You could feel the drama & tension in the air as the riders prepped their gates for the first MX1/MX2 des nations moto.

Tension in the air as riders prep their start gates for Moto 1.

When the gate dropped Antonio Cairoli grabbed the holeshot and proceeded to give a sand riding clinic to all the other nations, as he won with ease!

Cairoli extending his lead each lap!

Ryan Dungey had gated well, but was struggling to stay on the pace of the leaders, as was Blake Baggett who was mired midpack and was eventually lapped by Cairoli in the dying stages! Why did the Americans look like “fish out of water?”  Watching the sand riding techniques of guys like Herlings, Cairoli and Roczen they appear a lot looser on their bikes, not sticking to exact lines each lap, just flowing with the bike wherever it takes them. Every lap around Lommel the deep sand changes, continually moving,. In comparison, Dungey , Baggett and Barcia were noticibly stiffer, especially in their suspension settings. They would slam the moving berms whilst Herlings and co just kissed off them! Baggett in particular was revving his bike a lot more than say Roczen which just digs down deeper, rather than riding a gear higher and staying on top of the shifting surface. The speed that Herlings and Cairoli were circulating, they were probably jumping 15-20% more of the track, missing deep holes etc. Credit to the young Americans, Lommel is open all year round as a practice venue, so the locals have hours in the sand logged, plus when Team USA hired it a week before for a private session, the track style and bumps layout would be a lot different come race time!

Ken Roczen dominated the MX2 class athe MXDN for the 3rd year in a row!

The second MX2/MXOpen moto was dominated by World Champion Jeffrey Herlings who was absolutely on fire from holeshot to flag.

Moto 2 start

Herlings out front past the VIP area lap 1.

Herlings the ultimate sandman!

Justin Barcia had gated well in third place but was soon passed by Belgium’s Ken Dedycker. Coming along the pit box straight and Barcia tried to use his Bam Bam style passing on big Ken, only this time Barcia ended up on the deck as Ken nonchalantly glanced back.

"Bam Bam" Barcia tries to outbrake Ken DeDycker

To be continued in Part 3

Barcia, what happened next, Moto 3 the Cairoli/Herlings sandman showdown, podium celebrations and antics and the afterparties!

To be published on Monday Oct 22nd!

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