The final round of the Full Throttle, Monster Energy, TRP Motocross Nationals was run at the ever perfect TEZA Motocross Track in Kwambonambi, KZN. There couldn’t have been a more perfect setting to finish off what can safely be said to be the best MX season in years. Saturday was slightly overcast, but the rain held off and Sunday was just perfect blue skies for MX. Winter is a great time to ride in KZN and the track stayed loamy the whole weekend. There was also a full sized crowd lining the edges of the TEZA track on Sunday and they got to witness some of the finest MX racing in Africa.
Killer highlights video thanks to Freestyle Films:
The 50cc pro would be first up and I must say, the racing has been furious. Camden McLellan was leading going into this final round, but inconsistency had been his nemesis in 2014, so would have to make sure he had a cool head. Jono Mlimi had to win all 3 heats to have a chance at winning the championship. He went out in heat 1 and blitzed the field. It was looking good for him to repeat on Sunday, but a silly mistake while leading heat 2 would drop him to 2nd behind Camden McLellan and effectively end his seasons hopes. Jono did go out in heat 3 and win, but with Camden in 2nd, wasn’t enough for the title. There was a big battle for 3rd between Hayden Tully and Vincent Van Rooy who was also celebrating his birthday. Hayden got better starts and was flying, but 2 crashes put him back in 4th overall behind Vincent. The Cape town rider Ike Klaasen would struggle a little on the technical Teza track, but still did enough to finish 3rd in the championship.
The 50cc junior class was up next and it was time for a new sensation to shine, Kyle Phillips. He won all 3 heats and holeshotted all 3 as well, to win the Skullcandy headphones. The focus was on the battle for 2nd however, as a young lady rider, Emma Jennings was making waves. She was in a battle with championship hopeful, James Thompson. James would get the better of her in heat 1 and 2, but Emma finally got to 2nd in heat 3 and even matched the lap times of the leader Kyle Phillips. James didn’t do enough to win the title though, as that honour fell on the ever consistent Lucas Venter, who was given a set of Jonnesway tools from his idol, Richie VD Westhuizen for winning the championship.
The 65cc class went to the wire. It was the most intense class to watch as 3 riders were within 3 points of each other going into the weekend. KZN rider Cam Durow is a jump specialist, which suited the TEZA track. He also racked up enough holeshots for the Skullcandy award. The good starts would be the exact ingredient for success and would result in 3 wins. He rode faultlessly not making any mistakes. The 3 wins was also enough to clinch the title by 4 points. Dalton Venter impressed as he was the only 65 to clear all the jumps. This gave him some great lap times, but bad starts, meant he would struggle to catch Durow and had to settle for 2nd overall. Wikus Van Sandwyk has had a “cracker” season and was not expected to be in the lead going into the final round. He did a great job fighting for the title, but 2 x 3rds and 1 x 2nd wasn’t enough. Wikus has shown his metal now and will be on everyone’s mind for 2014. Grant Hutton was 4th in the championship ahead of Christiaan Cilliers.
The 85cc class has been the Eastern Cape class! Keegan Hickson Mahoney from PE won round one but sadly was injured before round 2. This meant the flame was handed to fellow PE rider Seth VD Abeele and he did a sterling job holding off a mob of Gauteng riders for the title. Slade Smith was his nearest rival and pushed him all the way. The day however belonged to RAD, Vision Racing, Midas KTM rider Matthew Kruger. He pulled off his first national win in the 85cc class and has now set the tone for 2014. Matthew is a hard worker and was great that the switch finally clicked for him. Slade Smith was 2nd overall courtesy of a bad heat 1, but will look to win this class in 2014. The KZN rider Cayle Dormehl was the holshot king for the day and also rode his way to 3rd overall. Seth was 4th for the day, nursing a bad knee, but 4th was enough for the title.
The Pro-mini class was almost a formality for CIT BadBoy KTM rider Jason Visser. He had a big points lead and only mechanical failure would prevent him winning. His nearest rival was Marcus Phelps, who has been fast all year, but has suffered with some mechanical failures. Marcus qualified fastest, but a crash while leading heat 1 would almost ruin his weekend and in that any chances of the championship. The TEZA kid, Charl Van Eerden won his first national race in years in heat 1 and the crowd went wild. Jason Visser took it easy in heat 1, but went for the win in heat 2 which gave him the title. Now relaxed for heat 3, he would check out and win by far. There was a big pile up with Charl Van Eeden, Justin Thompson and Marcus Phelps in heat 3 and that would hand 2nd to Joshua Mlimi. Charl Van Eeden would remount to finish in 3rd overall and Marcus 4th.
125 Highschool class:
The 125 highschool class also came down to the wire between Cape town rider Dylan Stokes and KZN “wonder kid”, Brad Cox. Brad has recently come back from the USA and seems faster than ever. He won all 3 and didn’t look back at all. Dylan started each race well, but a massive crash a few weeks ago had hindered his training and wasn’t as fit as he would of liked. This allowed Dirco VD Westhuizen needed to reel him in and claim 2nd overall for the day. Dirco finished 3rd for the season in his rookie year behind Dylan Stokes. Intertherm KTM rider Nicholas Phelps had a great season to finish 4th and the Witbank kid, Tyron Nel finished 5th overall in the championship.
The MX2 class was once again a big class and really spectacular to watch. Richie VD Westhuizen had a big points lead and needed 2 solid results to secure the championship. His rival, Kerim Fitzgerald would do all in his power to see if he could force a mistake from Richie to reclaim the title he lost 2 seasons back. Richie was under pressure from Kerim in heat 1, but all the experience he has, enabled him to keep calm and ride flawlessly to the checkered flag. A 2nd in heat 2 to Kerim was enough to wrap up a title that has eluded him for many years. Kerim won heat 2 and 3 and ends the season with a BIG statement for 2014. The reigning champion, Anthony Raynard, Caleb Tennant and Grant Frerichs would battle it out for 3rd. Grant was relaxed and styling it for the crowd and that seemed to be the recipe for success, as he got stronger through the weekend for 3rd overall. Raynard had some bad luck after a solid start to the weekend, but 4th was enough for 4th in the championship. The rookie, Tristan Purdon rounded out the top 5 in the champs.
MX1 is a tough class. Brute force and fast guys 1st to last make this the premier class in SA. The day would provide a different winner in each race, which shows how tough this class is. Kerim Fitzgerald is the most improved MX1 rider of 2013 and he proved this by winning heat 1. A mechanical failure in heat 2 would prevent him winning overall and 3rd would be the end result for the day. Sacha Naude also tried to shake things up by winning heat 2. He looked strong and ready to keep winning. Unfortunately he couldn’t do it again as heat 3 would belong to the national champion, Richie VD Westhuizen. Grant Frerichs rode his 250 to 4th place ahead of Royce Griffin who is on a Yamaha now.
The MX3 class is made up of 3 different classes. Ian Topliss has been the man to catch in the vets and even riding with a shoulder injury, no one could catch him. Ian collected another SA title to add to his big collection. He was fast all weekend and didn’t look like slowing down any time soon. Roger Bergstrom was 2nd ahead of Kobus Goosen.
In the Masters, local man Clint Dreyer surprised everybody, riding his first national of the season and winning. He left the 2 championship hopefuls behind him and Terence Monk would win that battle on the day ahead of Alec Combrink. Alec Combrink might have been beaten on the day, but did enough to win the title by 12 points. Harry Grobler was 3rd.
The Grand Masters was won on the day by Rod Bergstrom. Amazing that he is still turning out quick laps and was a deserved winner. Francois Du Plooy was 2nd ahead of Geoff Den who missed heat 1 due to a serious injury to his son. Geoff did do enough to win the title though and add to his ever extending title collection.
The 2013 season was the best for some years and was fitting to end on such a picturesque track. Well Done TEZA and we will definitely hope to be back in 2014.
We also have to say bye to a few people. The first being Full Throttle, who announced their withdrawal from the sport as title sponsor. They have been in it for 5 years and helped elevate our sport to new levels. The 2nd being the legend himself, Richie VD Westhuizen. He will ride the regional season out, but his national career has come to an end as he has retired from professional Motocross racing.
Words by Laren van der Westhuizen (MXSA.co.za)
Photos by Rich Sutherland (richsutherland.com)