For over thirty years now, the main story line behind the Motocross Des Nation's has been Team USA and their abundance of exceptionally talented athletes. By: Paul Quesnel
Expected to win while under the close examination of the entire sport, the American riders went into the 2012 MXDN looking to extend their win streak to a remarkable eight consecutive wins.
Leading into the event, we all knew that Team USA had quite the challenge ahead of them due to the fact that they were heading into the deep sands of Lommel with a somewhat controversial and unproven squad (not including Dungey of coarse). Nonetheless, we still had a talented young group of guys that were heading over to Belgium looking for nothing short of a victory (and usually, that's good enough). Unfortunately, as the event began to unfold it quickly became more and more obvious that the team was in greater trouble than we originally thought.
After the loss, there was a substantial amount of contempt and a few harsh words thrown around from each side of the pond. If you were from the younger generation in America you most likely had never seen the U.S. lose an MXDN before and figured they would keep on winning regardless. In addition, if you were from the younger generation in Europe you had probably never seen anyone besides the U.S. win and were just salivating at the thought of someone (anyone) beating the powerhouse American crew. Considering all that, it wasn't too surprising that when the unthinkable finally did take place just a few months ago, it set off a powder-keg of emotions from all over the world. Now that cooler heads have prevailed and the initial shock of the upset has subsided, I think that this is an especially good time for everyone to forget about the loss and instead, turn their focus towards the incredible seven-year run of dominance put in by the American riders.
With all the commotion that took place after the defeat, it seemed as if the one thing that was getting pushed to the side was the astonishing success of the previous U.S. teams. Yeah it was definitely a bummer for all the Americans, but we can't let this one loss overshadow what was already an incredible feat. So in commemoration of the second longest winning streak in the history of the Motocross Des Nations, here are a few numbers, averages, and statistics from those seven special years.
First off, let me start out by saying that organizing a winning Des Nations team probably takes more effort than most of us can comprehend and we all should be thankful for all the hard work that's put in behind the scenes. However, when it comes down to it and push comes to shove, it's still all about the rider and the results that he can put in on that day. Three riders; every year; for seven years equals twenty-one vacant spots. In regards to the United States seven year winning streak, eleven riders make up those twenty-one spots that were needed. Here are a few numbers from what that group of riders were able to accomplish.
Note: Besides Villopoto, Dungey, and Carmichael, Tim Ferry was the only other American to win an overall classification at the MXDN during the streak.
Three American riders really went above and beyond when it comes to the seven year streak. Out of the 35 moto's it took to complete the sweep between 2005 and 2011, Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, and Ricky Carmichael are responsible for over half those results with 18 combined moto's turned in. During the streak, their scores were never used as throwaways, they always came through when the win was on the line, and at least one of them was on every single of the seven teams.
All For one
As if winning wasn't enough, the U.S. teams have put up some remarkable numbers during their latest streak of dominance. With a moto score average of 3.9 and an average spread of 10.6 points back to 2nd place, it's easy to understand why it took the world so long to topple the powerhouse American squad.
Note: 48 of the laps led by Villopoto was on 250, combine that with his 3 moto wins and 2 addition podiums and I think it's safe to say that RV has to be considered the most successful small-bore rider in the history of the MXDN.
Note: The lowest score a team can get at the MXDN is 7, in 2007 the U.S. team came up only one point short.
While the Americans were certainly used to winning, it was never a sure bet when it came to the MXDN. As you can see in the illustration below, the U.S. teams were actually more accustomed to going into the final moto behind on points rather than going in on top.
Note: During the streak, the biggest deficit the U.S. faced going into the final moto was in 2009 when they
went in trailing France by 14 points.
As it turns out, while the United States was busy winning all those years, there were two teams that were actually right there behind us. During the seven year streak, every time the American squad was on the top step of the podium, they could look down to their right (2nd place) and they would either see the Belgians or the Franks standing there. As a matter of fact, out of the twenty-one podium spots up for grabs between 2005 and 2011, eighteen of those spots went to the U.S., France, and Belgium.
Note: It is quite ironic that the team that beat the US this past year was neither France or Belgium, but yet Belgium still found their way to a sour second place.
Looking at the graph below, you can see just how unshakable the American teams were from 2005 to 2011. While the U.S. points tally only varied by 18 points over the seven years (8-26), you can see how the teams coming in second place were not able to come close to matching our consistency.
The Great Debate
This is probably a can of worms that is best left un-open, but I really just couldn't help myself. No matter who's wins the Motocross Des Nations from now until the end of time, the debate about which series (the AMA or the FIM) holds the better riders, will most likely never be settled. The chart below shows that although the AMA team won the event for seven years in a row, doesn't necessarily mean that they had everything their own way all the time.
Note: I placed riders that started their career in the GP's (Chad Reed, Ben Townley) on the FIM side.