AMA Pro Racing's motocross/supercross series manager Steve Whitelock has been meeting with top riders, teams and OEM representatives to determine their interest in participating in the 2004 Motocross des Nations.

Scheduled to be held in Lierop, in the Netherlands on 1-3 October, the event is historically referred to as the 'Olympics of Motorcycling' and features three-man teams from around the world. Whitelock says that there are always a lot of variables that go into the decision of whether or not to send a team but that this year is particularly complex.

"There are many external factors impacting whether or not the United States can field a team," he explained, "Some of the factors this year are uncertainty regarding rider contracts and the difficulty surrounding the logistics of this year's event."

The 2004 MXdN is scheduled three weeks after the end of the AMA Chevrolet Motocross Championship and a week before the US Open.

"The riders are coming off a gruelling motocross season and have a brief window of opportunity to prepare for the US Open - a supercross race," Whitelock continued, "It's a lot to expect them to travel to Europe to race at that time."

Whitelock characterised rider interest as 'mixed'.

"Frankly speaking, enthusiasm for attending the event is lukewarm," he noted, "There is some interest and most of the riders I have spoken to have said they would consider going but, in all honesty, I would say that most riders are not that excited about it."

Kerry Graeber, AMA Pro Racing vice-president of communications, acknowledged that both AMA Pro Racing and the riders are usually pressured by fans to attend the MXdN.

"I've received e-mails and calls from those that suggest we ought to send a team under any circumstances," Graeber revealed, "Unfortunately, that blind enthusiasm doesn't really take into account the realities surrounding a MXdN effort in today's racing climate. On one level, we're all enthusiasts and have a feeling that Team USA needs to be there, but on a practical level, we have to do what's in the best interests of our riders and AMA Pro Racing."

Sending Team USA to the MXdN represents a considerable cost to the riders, the OEMs and AMA Pro Racing. With little commercial value in the United States, it's an investment that, from a business consideration, is hard to rationalise. Whitelock hopes that the event organisers work towards making sure the event delivers more value in the United States.

"Having participation from riders of the calibre of Ricky Carmichael, Bubba Stewart and Kevin Windham adds credibility to the MXdN," Whitelock stated, "I'd like to see the organisers recognise that and ensure that we receive exposure and value in our home market. Even something as basic as a strong television broadcast in the United States would be a step in the right direction."

Graeber said that the plan is to continue talking to the top riders, teams and OEMs and use that information to make a final decision.

"Steve is going to get a feel for what the riders are thinking and what kind of support their teams are willing and able to provide," he explained, "Once we have that information, we'll sit down and determine whether or not it is feasible to send a team this year. The decision will be made with the input of all those involved."