Five teams stand out as potential winners from the 33 which have been entered in the Motocross des Nations at Lommel at the end of the month.
In addition to holders USA and sand natives Belgium and Holland, Germany and Britain left Lierop on Sunday evening smelling of roses, while France and Italy might as well stay home.
The tortuous sand of Lierop was a clear dress rehersal for the Nations and Britain’s trio of Max Anstie, Tommy Searle and Jake Nicholls raced to an impressive 3-4-5 in the MX2 opener.
Max and Tommy repeated the scoreline in the second moto as they even remained on the same lap as Jeffrey Herlings.
“I got to prove that I am strong in sand today,” enthused Anstie after twice steaming out of the pack on the underpowered Gariboldi CR250F,
“And I knew I could make the difference up by riding smoothly.”
The Brit twice caught and passed Searle from a mid-pack start and was even hauling in Van Horebeek at two seconds a lap until he clipped a haybale.
“I’ve been out on the 450 with Neil Prince this week – I can’t wait for Lommel,” he said.
Searle too was inspired by the solid showing of the Brits: “I haven’t spent enough time in sand yet, but after Faenza I’m going to take the camper to Belgium and ride Lommel every day for two weeks.”
Germany could be happy too as Max Nagl proved that he is second only to Cairoli in MX1, while Marcus Schiffer, third man alongside Kenny Roczen, had top ten speed.
Ken De Dycker and Jeremy Van Horebeek confirmed their selection for Belgium, while Clement Desalle will be hoping that his hand injury is better by the big day.
For Holland Glenn Coldenhoff ran away with the MX2 qualifier until Herlings caught him, and he rode from last to ninth in the
opener on Sunday.
However Marc De Reuver ended the day in hospital after mistaking a spare litre of fuel for water in the pre-parc of race two!
Toni Cairoli is clearly the only man remotely on the same planet as Herlings in sand, but Davide Guarneri and Alessandro Lupino were not even top ten, while the French are in disarray.
Gautier Paulin was a respectable fifth in race one but Christophe Pourcel, on injections for the shoulder injury sustained at Matterley, was caught and passed by Milko Potisek before he quit and he has been pulled out in favour of Xavier Boog, who was lapped in both motos at Lierop!
Already looking for a replacement are Switzerland after Jeremy Seewer broke a scaphoid at Lierop, while Austria nominated Pascal Rauchenecker even though he was not even due for medical clearance to start training until Wednesday of this week.
Here are the 33 teams as entered.
MOTOCROSS DES NATIONS 2012
USA: 1 Ryan Dungey (KTM), 2 Blake Baggett (250F Kawasaki), 3 Justin Barcia (Honda)
France: 4 Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki), 5 Marvin Musquin (250F KTM), 6 Gautier Paulin (Kawasaki)
Australia: 7 Lawson Bopping (Yamaha), 8 Luke Styke (250F Yamaha), 9 Todd Waters (Suzuki)
BRITAIN: 10 Tommy Searle (Kawasaki), 11 Jake Nicholls (250F KTM), 12 Max Anstie (Honda)
Belgium: 13 Clement Desalle (Suzuki), 14 Jeremy Van Horebeek (250F KTM), 15 Ken De Dycker (KTM)
South Africa: 16 Richard Van der Westhuizen (Yamaha), 17 Shannon Terreblanche (250F KTM), 18 Neville Bradshaw (Honda)
Germany: 19 Max Nagl (KTM), 20 Ken Roczen (250F KTM), 21 Marcus Schiffer (Suzuki)
Spain: 22 Jonathan Barragan (Honda), 23 Jose Butron (250F KTM), 24 Alvaro Lozano (Yamaha)
Holland: 25 Marc de Reuver (Kawasaki), 26 Glenn Coldenhoff (250F KTM), 27 Jeffrey Herlings (KTM)
Estonia: 28 Gert Krestinov (Honda), 29 Priit Ratsep (250F KTM), 30 Tanel Leok (Suzuki)
Portugal: 31 Rui Goncalves (Honda), 32 Paulo Alberto (250F Suzuki), 33 Luis Correia (Yamaha)
Switzerland: 34 Arnaud Tonus (Yamaha), 35 Jeremy Seewer (250F Suzuki), 36 Valentin Guillod (KTM)
Japan: 37 Yu Hirata (Honda), 38 Takuya Mihara (250F Kawasaki), 39 Yohei Kojima (Suzuki)
Czech Republic: 40 Filip Neugebauer (Kawasaki), 41 Milan Spicak (250F Kawasaki), 42 Martin Michek (KTM)
Russia: 43 Evgeny Bobryshev (Honda), 44 Aleksand Zonkov (250F Honda), 45 Evgeny Mikhaylov (KTM)
Italy: 46 Toni Cairoli (KTM), 47 Alessandro Lupino (250F Husqvarna), 48 Davide Guarneri (KTM)
Finland: 49 Ludde Soderberg (Honda), 50 Niko Koskela (250F Kawasaki), 51 Antti Pyrhonen (Honda)
Denmark: 52 Nikolaj Hansen (Suzuki), 53 Nikolaj Larsen (250F Suzuki), 54 Stefan Kjer Olsen (Yamaha)
Ireland: 55 Martin Barr (Suzuki), 56 Graeme Irwin (250F Yamaha), 57 Stuart Edmonds (Suzuki)
Austria: 58 Matthias Walkner (KTM), 59 Pascal Rauchenecker (250F KTM), 60 Michael Staufer (KTM)
Sweden: 61 Kim Lindstrom (Kawasaki), 62 Karl Olsson (250F Honda), 63 Filip Bengtsson (KTM)
Latvia: 64 Davis Livs (Kawasaki), 65 Roberts Justs (250F Honda), 66 Augusts Justs (Honda)
Slovenia: 67 Matevz Irt (Suzuki), 68 Tim Gajser (250F KTM), 69 Klemen Gercar (Honda)
Puerto Rico: 70 Gino Aponte (Yamaha), 71 Zach Osborne (250F Yamaha), 72 Jimmy Albertson (Suzuki)
Venezuela: 73 Carlos Badiali (Yamaha), 74 Hector Rodriguez (250F Yamaha), 75 Humberto Martin (Honda)
Norway: 76 Even Heibye (KTM), 77 Magne Klingsheim (250F KTM), 78 Kim Oiva Jarva (Honda)
New Zealand: 85 Josh Coppins (Yamaha), 86 Kayne Lamont (250F KTM), 87 Cody Cooper (Suzuki)
Lithuania: 91 Nerijus Rukstela (Suzuki), 92 Matas Inda (250F Kawasaki), 93 Vytautas Bucas (Honda)
Iceland: 94 Viktor Gudbergsson (Kawasaki), 95 Ingvi Bjorn Birgisson (250F KTM), 96 Solvi Borgar Sveinsson (Honda)
Greece: 97 Panagiotis Kouzis (Honda), 98 Dimitris Kotoletas (250F Yamaha), 99 George Llipoulos (KTM)
Thailand: 100 Jugkrit Suksripaisan (Honda), 101 Trakan Thangthong (250F Yamaha), 102 Chaiyan Romphan (Yamaha)
Hungary: 124 Bence Svoboda (KTM), 125 Erik Hugyecz (250F Yamaha), 126 Kornel Nemeth (KTM)
Mongolia: 127 Erdenebileg Khaliunbold (???), 128 E Munkhbolor (250F ???), 129 Purevdorj Murun (???)