Welcome to our web-exclusive weekly column: Transmoto's MXGP Insider, presented by Kawasaki.
The growth of American Motocross has often seen a good influx of riders from all over the world involved in the AMA Motocross series. Names like Pierre Karsmakers, J.M.Bayle, Greg Albertyn, Sebastien Tortelli, Grant Langston, Ben Townley, David Vuillemin, Chad Reed, Michael Byrne, Andrew McFarlane, Christophe Pourcel and so many more have fought tooth and nail against the Americans, with many having Championship success.
There's always been talk of how the European riders struggle when they head to the American Motocross and Supercross series. Antonio Cairoli pretty much set it straight that he won't be going to America any time soon, and while it was expected early in 2011 that Jeffrey Herlings and Gautier Paulin might be heading over in 2013, that is now not the case.
Obviously the less than brilliant results of Ken Roczen in America this year, supported by the fact that a Grand Prix rider hasn't won an AMA Motocross Championship since Grant Langston way back in 2007, makes a pretty clear statement racing in America, against American's, isn't the easiest thing to do.
What I do believe is that it's not an even playing field, and in just about anyone's eyes Ken Roczen was the fastest MX2 rider in the world in 2010 and 2011, due to his brilliant Motocross of Nations performances - where he not only beat all the leading MX2 riders, but also riders like Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed and Ben Townley who were racing in the MX1 or Open class - yet, he struggled in America this year. Roczen complained about the work load in America, including a lot of media work, a lot of travel and a lot of testing. Now, with Herlings and Cairoli clearly not looking at America as their next step, the question is when will we see another GP rider head to America?
Christophe Pourcel is looking for a ride in America, but due to his poor attitude towards teams, it doesn't seem likely he will find an opportunity too quickly. American teams seem only interested in signing World Champions, or riders who hold solid Supercross skills - something that is lacking in both the MX1 and MX2 class at the moment.
So with just Ken Roczen (2011 World MX2 champion), Marvin Musquin (2010 and 2009 World MX2 Champion), Tyla Rattray (2008 World MX2 Champion) and veteran Gareth Swanepoel coming from the Grands Prix and currently racing in America, the relationship between GP and AMA riders seems to be spreading further and further apart.
On another note, there's a huge lack of South Africans, Aussies and New Zealanders racing in Europe at the moment. Back in the day, the GP fields were loaded with non-Europeans, but these days it's the French, British, Italians, Dutch and Belgians who hold the key to the future of the sport in Europe. While names like Greg Albertyn, Grant Langston, Chad Reed, Andrew McFarlane, Ben Townley and Brett Metcalfe all made the transition from their own homeland to Europe and then to America, those days seem over, at least for now.
What this also means, is that the American series is no longer loaded with International riders, and looking at the top ten of both classes it's just Rattray (tenth in the 450cc class), Roczen (fourth in 250cc class) and Musquin (fifth in 250cc class) that are non-American riders in the AMA series. From around 80 riders, just three or four are Internationals in the fields of the 450cc and 250cc machines.