FIM versus AMA - Times Have Changed
News Tuesday 02nd October 2012 By Geoff Meyer
What I had to think about while driving out of Lommel on Sunday night was how much of a difference from 1981 in Lommel and 2012 in Lommel.
In 1981 American were at the beginning of their domination of World Motocross. I spoke to Broc Glover last weekend and he mentioned how when he rode for Team USA in the 1980s their riders often finished 1-2-3-4 in motos. Didn't matter if it was sand or hard-pack. There was never a question of being beaten.
It is clear that the GP riders have made huge progress in this period, and as former MXoN rider and five times World Motocross Champion Eric Geboers said to me a while back in an interview on MXlarge the GP riders have learnt a lot since 1981. Their techniques are better and they are better prepared for the American riders.
Riding styles in Europe are now much more aggressive. Due partly to the circuits also being more technical than the wide open days of the 1970s and 80s. Hard pack is still around, but circuits like Lierop, Lommel, Valkenswaard, Kegums, Uddevalla or Agueda are testing the GP riders like never before.Youthstream have implemented indoor type obsticals and given riders more of a challenge.
While moto wins were hard to come by for euro riders back in the 1980s the moto win tally from the last eight MXoN events (since Team USA returned from missing 2001, 2002 and 2004), is 13 moto wins for AMA riders and 11 for FIM riders (former GP riders Chad Reed and Ben Townley have two of those AMA wins). Sounds to me like the speed is pretty similar doesn't it boys.
Team USA should be applauded for performing outside America so often, full credit for them there, and apart from Lommel they usually battle for motos wins, even in 2006 when Stefan Everts and Antonio Cairoli dominated the motos the American riders were fighting for the moto victories and won the teams event. Lommel was pure domination, a domination not seen since the 1970s by European riders.
When Jeffrey Herlings was coming around to lap the Team USA riders last weekend it meant a lot to the Grand Prix fans. We hadn't forgotten Lommel in 1981 or for that matter Budds Creek in 2007. That day in 07 when Team USA wiped the floor with the GP riders, when they made our guys look stupid and had the glory of pronouncing themselves the fastest riders in the World.
Now five years later Antonio Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings and even AMA bases German Ken Roczen can lay claim to being the best of the best. FIM World number one really means something now; it's not just that other series the American media like to call it. Our riders beat the crap out of their riders and nothing can dampen that feeling of success for the GP scene.
What should be pointed out is that the Team USA riders lost with dignity, they didn't complain about the circuit being too euro, they just gave compliments and despite being totally disappointed they remained classy and professional.
The difference between a Ken Roczen in America and Ken Roczen in Europe is like day and night. Two different riders, a level playing field Lommel wasn't, our guys had a huge advantage, but hey American media, now it's time to come clean. Greg Albertyn, Mickael Pichon, Seb Tortelli, Grant Langston, Chad Reed, Ben Townley, Christophe Pourcel, Marvin Musquin, Tyla Rattray, and Kenny Roczen deserve medals for taking on the yanks in their own backyard.
It's just about impossible to beat Americans on their home turf, but guys like Albertyn, Langston and Reed came away from their AMA adventure with number one plates. That says something about their resolve. Not surprisingly no European rider since J.M.Bayle in the 1990s has won in America, at least not a major Outdoor Championship.
For the American media it is easy to write the American are the best in the World. Former racer and now television commentator Jeff Emig has said it time and time again on American television that the American AMA National riders are the best in the World. I hear it all the time from my fellow scribes in America. Even last weekend one journalist told me how we (the AMA MX and SX series) take ALL the GP riders. I reminded him that in the last 10 years only a handful have moved to USA and in fact not ALL of our riders. And if ALL our riders were in USA, then I am not sure where those guys who went 1-1-1 in Lommel last weekend are from, but those guys were GP riders. Born and breed GP riders, both satisfied with the FIM World Motocross Championship, just like De Coster, Robert, Everts, Smets, Hallman, Thorpe, Geboers, Jobe, Malherbe, Carlqvist before them.
That Germany with a population of just 81,726,000 beat America with their population of 314,497,000 is impressive. That America with thousands of active Motocross circuits and Germany maybe less than 100 also gives credit to the Europeans. That America has such depth in their selection of riders for Team USA and Germany has just three is mind blowing.
Add to that that Belgium have maybe five active Motocross circuits and probably 10 World class riders, then second place is also pretty impressive.
Sure Team USA will be back in 2013 in Germany, they will be pissed and they will want to take prisoners, but believe me, the brash Grand Prix riders will be waiting this time, more so than ever before. It's going to be hard pack, which is a pretty good level playing field. I will admit, the thought of an angry Team USA arriving and wanting to totally dominating is scary. but my bet though, it's going to come down to that last moto again, as it has nearly every year for the last 10.
Maybe after Lommel the GP riders will have more confidence to put the sword in once again and regain the Chamberlain Trophy and not sit back and watch Team USA steal it from their hands. Are we seeing a changing of the guard once again after 30 years of American domination, maybe. It sure would be nice wouldn't it?