2022 Motocross Des Nations Preview

2022 FIM Motocross Des Nations

September 18, 2011, Saint-Jean-d’Angély, France. That was the last time a United States Motocross Des Nations entry won it all. Since then it’s been nothing but shortcomings or simply just the red white and blue not being able to send their best possible team. After scuttling a bid to run the 2021 edition of the event in Italy, the US is back with a vengeance on home soil in 2022.

The Team USA trio of Eli Tomac, Chase Sexton, and Justin Cooper have the shot to end a decade-long dry spell as favorites, but they’ll have some tough competition. Namely Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and defending winners Italy. Additionally, several high-profile riders are out of this race as well, making things a bit more interesting. Will this finally be the year the United States breaks the drought? Can Australia begin the start of a dynasty with the Lawrence brothers? Or will one of the European blue bloods reign supreme? Here are how things shake out going into this Saturday and Sunday.  

Be sure to keep up with all of our Motocross coverage.


Notable Absences

While not belonging to a nation with a heavy shot to win, Tim Gajser is by far and away the biggest rider missing Des Nations this year. Although Slovenia isn’t winning this event anytime soon, Gajser wouldn’t have been doing all the heavy lifting this year. Jan Pancar, who finished 11th in this year’s MX2 Championship, would have served as a quality teammate to the World Champion. Speaking of Champions, Jeffrey Herlings, who has been shut down for the entire year, is going to have to wait until 2023 to bring a Chamberlain Trophy back to Holland.

The French are in a position like the United States to where they have an abundance of options for a team. Those not making the team for various reasons were MX2 World Champion Tom Vialle, whos prepping for his maiden Supercross voyage. In addition to former MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre, and MX2 top five points finisher Thibault Benistant not making it/bowing out. Elsewhere, Ken Roczen, even before his split from Honda HRC, declined to run for Germany. While injuries knocked Jacob Piccolo and Jess Pettis out of the running for Team Canada.


2022 Motocross Des Nations Teams

(Numbers determined by prior year’s finishing order in the order of MXGP rider, MX2 Rider, and Open Rider. Non-participating countries keep numbers)

Non AMA/MXGP Series Distinctions: ACU – British Nats. ADAC – German Nats. CTC- Canadian TripleCrown MX. AJPM – All Japan Pro Motocross.

Team Italy – Managed by Thomas Raversini
No. 1 Antonio Cairoli – Red Bull KTM (AMA)
No. 2 Andrea Adamo – SM Action (GasGas) Racing Team (MXGP)
No. 3 Mattia Guadagnini – Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing (MXGP)

The defending winners of Des Nations effectively swap Alessandro Lupino for Adamo and bring their best two riders from last year’s event back. Guadagnini ended up being the MVP for the Italians last year with a 5-6 run on a 250. This year, he made the mid-season switch to the MXGP class and did well for himself in 10 rounds of work. Adamo meanwhile was solid throughout the year in the MX2 ranks, but a half dozen bad days put him eighth in the points.


Guadagnini is probably the surest thing on this Italian squad, but if Cairoli is entering this weekend better than he did the AMA Nats, that would be big. He won last year’s MXGP Class qualifying race going away, and his second in Moto 3 secured Italy’s first Des Nations win since 2002. Should they qualify well on Saturday, specifically Cairoli in a stacked MXGP class, they should be a podium threat at the least for this Sunday.

Team Netherlands – Managed by Barry Forschelen
No. 4 Glenn Coldenhoff – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
No. 5 Kay De Wolf – Neestan Husqvarna Factory Racing (MXGP)
No. 6 Calvin Vlaanderen – Team Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing (MXGP)

Even without Herlings, the Dutch once again have a formidable squad going to RedBud. Outside of a 15th in Moto 1 last year, Coldenhoff has been nothing short of a monster for Holland in this event. Going back to the last three runnings of Des Nations, his top five Moto results are (in order) 1-1-1-1-3. Joining him is another former member of the 2019 Assen winner Vlaanderen, who pulled off a massive upset winning a ‘GP in Italy earlier this year. Unclear if he is going to be running a Star Yamaha engine for this event. However, it sounds like he is for next year’s MXGP tilt for what it is worth. Perhaps they speed up that timeline.

Meanwhile, De Wolf gets the nod over fellow Neestan Husky teammate Roan Van De Moosdijk, who missed 11 MXGP rounds via injury. De Wolf was nearly a top-five rider in the MX2 Championship for the entire season. Furthermore, he’s third among the riders in the class running a 250 for this event. Assuming the Dutch perform well in qualifying, and history says they probably will, do not count them out.

Team Great Britain – Managed by Mark Chamberlain
No. 7 Dean Wilson – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing (AMA)
No. 8 Max Anstie – Fire Power Genuine Parts Honda (AMA)
No. 9 Tommy Searle – Crendon FastTrack Honda (ACU) (2022 450 British National Motocross Champion)

The UK is running it back with their 2017 Matterley Basin lineup. Just with everyone in a different spot this go around. Wilson now serves as the MXGP class rider in what is his final event with Rockstar Husky before moving over to Fire Power Honda. Anstie, who did run a 450 for a few brief rounds in the AMA Nats, is dropping down for both this event, as well as World Supercross. If you remember 2017, he put on the run of a lifetime on home soil going 1-1, outdueling Gasjer in his first Moto, and Herlings in his second. Hopefully, he has better luck at RedBud this go around as well, after a bike issue in Moto 1 ended his day completely in July.

Searle gets the nod for the Open spot, as Ben Watson had a rough year in MXGP with Kawasaki KRT. The 33-year-old meanwhile had a big year, taking home the British Motocross Title for the second straight year since leaving the MXGP scene full-time. Maybe not a win contender for the UK, but this is still a quality squad.

Team France – Managed by Pascal Finot
No. 13 Maxime Renaux – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
No. 14 Marvin Musquin – Red Bull KTM (AMA)
No. 15 Dylan Ferrandis – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (AMA)

The French are going with a past present and future look for their 2022 Des Nations entry. Musquin ended up getting the nod to hop down to a 250 with Vialle bowing out in an interesting move. Mainly just from the standpoint that Marv hadn’t run Motocross this year until Pala 2. While Benistant over in MXGP had a great year and would have lined things up for an all-Yamaha lineup. Instead of opting for their tea

m to operate out of the same rig, the Fench opts for the experience.

Playing the role of the Present is Ferrandis, whose AMA Motocross title defense was ruined via an injury just days before the season opener. Despite that, on top of another small injury, he is good to go. That then brings things to the X-factor for the french in the form of Renaux. As a rookie on a 450, he ran as high as second in the MXGP points this year. Vialle may become to more known commodity in the states, but Renaux is the real deal at just 22 years old. Comfortably tab the French as one of the gold medal contenders for this weekend.

Team Belgium – Managed by Johan Boonen
No. 16 Jago GeertsMonster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
No. 17 Liam Everts – DIGA Procross KTM (MXGP)
No. 18 Jeremy Van Horebeek – Beta SDM Corse MX Team (MXGP)

It’s been a while since Belgium, the ‘dynasty’ of the mid 1990s-mid 2000s, has gotten to the top step of the podium. With that said, as the final member of that 2013 winner, Van Horebeek, gets ready to call it a career, things are looking up in a big way for the Belgians. Their new youth movement is being led by Geerts, who is making his 450 debut in this event. Alongside him being Everts, the son of the legendary Stefan Everts, who is tabbed for a ride at Red Bull KTM next year. This is actually young Liam’s second Des Nations, as he went 17-13 last year in Italy.

Back to Geerts, a good run at RedBud would be a phenomenal confidence rebuilder after choking away the MX2 World Championship. Save for the last few rounds, he was lights out in spots this year and has a chance to make a big name for himself in front of an American audience. A Podium for Belgium may not be a lock, but they absolutely have a real chance, especially if Geerts can step up.

Team Switzerland – Managed by Daniel Zollinger
No. 22 Jeremy Seewer – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
No. 23 Valentin GuillodiXS Hostettler Yamaha MXGP Team
No. 24 Kevin Brumann – iXS Hostettler Yamaha MXGP Team

Another country that may not win but should perform admirably is the Swiss. Outside of Tomac and Sexton, Seewer is probably the third-best rider in Des Nations outright. The fan favorite in MXGP has finished second in the Championship three times in the last four years, and ended 2022 on fire, finishing first or second overall in four of his last five ‘GPs. It would be a safe bet to make saying he’s going to make a ton of new fans this weekend. Seewer is as electric of an interview as there is in Moto and can go with the best of them.

Joining him will be the pair of iXS Yamaha teammates Guillod and Brumann. The former of which is hoping down to a YZ250 for the event. Brumann, who made the switch later in the year to a 450, will stay there as well. An interesting move that will be worth monitoring. If those two can give a good effort in qualifying to get Seewer some good gate picks, watch out.

Team Germany – Managed by Marcel Dornhoffer
No. 25 Max Nagl – Krettek-Haas Husqvarna Racing Team (ADAC) (Current ADAC National Motocross Points Leader)
No. 26 Simon Laengenfelder – Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing (MXGP)
No. 27 Tom Koch – Kosak KTM Racing Team (ADAC)

With no Roczen or Henry Jacobi, the Germans go to the well with veterans Nagl and Koch to lead things on the 450 front. With that said, Laengenfelder is the star of the show here on the 250 GasGas ride. Without Geerts or Vialle for that matter, he becomes the top MX2 Championship rider in the field, finishing third on the year. Lewis Phillips of MXVice went as far as saying he’s going to be “the rider who has the most people reaching for their [programs].” Laengenfelder will definitely be worth keeping an eye out for, but he’s got a trio of AMA guys to worry about as well.

Nagl and Koch, while not on the MXGP circuit, have kept themselves busy at the national level. Nagl is likely to clinch the German National title this year, Koch meanwhile is locked into a third-place finish in the points. Not having the best possible lineup will certainly cost the Germans a win, but Nagl, Laengenfelder, and Koch are still a solid group.

Team Canada – Managed by Carl Bastedo
No. 40 Dylan Wright – Honda GDR/Fox Racing (CTC) (2022 450 Canadian Motocross National Champion. Perfect Season)
No. 41 Ryder McNabb – Honda GDR/Fox Racing (CTC) (2022 250 Canadian Motocross National Champion)
No. 42 Tyler Medaglia  – GasGas CMS/Callus Race Team (CTC)

The only change from the 2021 Canadian team is McNabb getting the MX2 entry in place of the injured Piccolo. It wasn’t quite the perfect season Wright had, but he was able to finish well enough down the stretch to narrowly beat Mitchell Harrison. This is a massive opportunity however for the 16-year-old to get a Des Nations nod. Should he impress enough this weekend, I wouldn’t be shocked if some U.S based teams become interested in McNabb.

Next up is Medaglia, who was also slated to run in the International Six Days of Enduro for Canada before an injury forced him to back out. Before that, 2022 treated him nicely, as he finished second in every round of the Canadian Triple Crown before missing the Gopher Dunes finale. As for Wright, although his results didn’t show it last year, he did enough to impress to where he got to do some MXGP rounds last year. His best result was a ninth, backed up by a pair of 12ths in the final three rounds of the year. Really good all things considered. All things considered, this is a solid squad from north of the border.

Team Spain – Managed by Paco Rico
No. 46 Jorge Prado – Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing (MXGP)
No. 47 Guillem Farres – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (AMA)
No. 48 Ruben Fernandez – Honda 114 Motorsport/Honda HRC (MXGP) 

If you’re looking for a dark horse in this year’s Des Nations, Spain fits that bill nearly perfectly. Yes, they’ve had Prado for several years now, but not much behind him. Now you can safely say they have a complete team that could be a factor down the road. Starting with the GasGas rider, he is without question the single best starter in the business, as has been for a few years. The holeshot numbers do not lie, 50 to be exact dating back to the beginning of the 2020 MXGP season. The problem for Prado however, is when you hit the midway part of a Moto and he falls completely off the cliff. It’s happened time and time again since he’s been on a 450 as well. That cannot happen if Spain wants to make an upset podium appearance.

Although Prado is the best rider on this team, the reason to feel good about Spain is the two guys behind him. Starting with Fernandez, who is making the jump to MXGP’s Honda HRC team in 2023. Although his year ended on a sour note, he put together some strong results all throughout the summer, en route to an eighth-place finish in the MXGP class points. Farres is the most interesting of the three. He impressed Star Yamaha enough in his stint to sign with them (MX only in ’23, full-time in ’24). Going from a KTM in EMX250 to a Yamaha in the states with minimal drop-off is nothing short of impressive. Wouldnt worry about Spain in the qualifying department, but they need two good Motos from Prado to have a shot.

Team Japan – Managed by Takateru Atsuta
No. 97 Yuki Okura – Honda Dream Racing (AJPM)
No. 98 Jo Shimoda – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki (AMA)
No. 99 Kota Toriyabe – Yamaha bLUcRU Team by NCXX (AJPM)

The Jo Shimoda Agenda™ has gone global baybay. Along with the All Japan MX duo of Okura and Toriyabe, this is Japan’s first entry into Des Nations since 2018, but they haven’t made the main show since 2016. Something tells me that is probably changing this weekend. With Geerts and Jett Lawrence not running 250s, there is an argument to be made that Shimoda is the best 250 rider in this event period. He also won the RedBud National earlier this year with a 1-3. Also having maybe the best-looking bike helps out too on top of that.

Now for the two AJPM riders, starting off with Honda Dream’s Okura. Currently, he ranks sixth in the ‘IA1’ (450) class as a rookie despite missing the first Moto of the season. Okura also finished second in last year’s IA2 (250) Championship aboard a Yamaha. Additionally, he was the reserve option for Japan but is filling in for teammate Kainosuke Oshiro. Toriyabe meanwhile is jumping up to a 450 for this event. As of right now, he’s seventh in the IA2 points after missing a couple of Motos. Qualifying day is going to be massive for Japan. They have to push it to get Shimoda some good gate picks. If they do so, he should get the first crack in both of his races.

Team USA – Managed by Roger De Coster
No. 101 Eli Tomac – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (AMA) (2022 450 AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion)
No. 102 Justin Cooper – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (AMA)
No. 103 Chase Sexton – Honda HRC (AMA)

On home soil, with perhaps the two best outright riders in this event, Team USA not coming home with a win barring any mechanical/injury issues would be a massive disappointment. Tomac and Sexton were otherworldly this summer and you’re not getting the former to go over to Ernee next year in any case. There was some debate on if Tomac was going to run the current YZ450 or the ’23 model. It appears he will stick with what got him both AMA titles. If you remember in 2018, Tomac opted to run the then-new KX450 at RedBud and it didn’t go as planned. If you ask me, this is the right call. Don’t risk the biggest event of the year on a new bike model.

Pairing Sexton, who has come into his own this summer, with the best version of Tomac we have ever seen is a downright horrifying thought. We never got Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart (so good btw), on the same Des Nations team, but this is about as good as it gets. A lot of criticism has come the way of Cooper for getting the MX2 spot. Some warranted some not, but I will say this. In his Des Nations debut in 2019, he went wire to wire in the MX2 qualifying race on the farthest outside gate. Then on that Sunday, went 60-plus minutes with a boxer fracture in his hand. Cooper showed that his heart is in it 100 percent that weekend and instantly became worthy of another shot.

Should this team win this weekend? I would ultimately say yes, although it isn’t a lock with some other teams being more than capable. Would guess we get one last Landshark sighting out of Tomac. However, there is also a real shot Sexton wins this for the red white, and blue. Cooper will be worth watching as well. He could have a ton of people eating crow with a good weekend.

Team Australia – Managed by Michael Byrne
No. 113 Mitch Evans – Honda HRC (MXGP)
No. 114 Hunter Lawrence – Honda HRC (AMA)
No. 115 Jett Lawrence – Honda HRC (AMA) (2022 250 AMA East Supercross and Motocross Champion)

Australia could be classified as the best country to never win a single Motocross Des Nations. There is close to a 100 percent chance that will not be the case by 2032. That’s largely in part due to the Lawrence brothers, who are both in this year, but they have several other capable riders for future years. For 2022, joining them is Evans, who is entering his final weekend with the MXGP sector of Honda HRC. After missing all of 2021, he finished 10th in MXGP points after finishing 14th in 2020, his rookie 450 season. This is also Evans’ first Des Nations appearance since 2018. That year at RedBud he went 10-14 as the Open rider.

Hunter meanwhile is making his third appearance in Des Nations and was lights out the previous two tries. The only MX2 rider to ever outrun him is Prado, who did so in 2018. Now to Jett, who is making his 450 debut this weekend. Odd that they didn’t make him the MXGP rider to give him the longer break between races, but I digress. He has certainly spent a good amount of time on the 450 by now, but we’re going to find out where he stacks up the second they begin practice sessions. I got a hunch to say he’ll be just fine. The Lawrence Brothers should be as advertised, but if Evans can step up, Australia could bring home its first Chamberlain Trophy.

2022 Motocross Des Nations Preditions

5th Place: Team Belgium
4th Place: Team Australia
3rd Place: Team Netherlands
2nd Place: Team France
1st Place: Team USA (MVP Chase Sexton)

Also, CBS Sports Network will air all three Motos live on Sunday, you’re welcome in advance.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images 


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