by Laren van der Westhuizen

Well 2013 has brought about many changes in the national motocross championship. The format has changed, the duration has changed and most importantly, the focus has changed. This all came about as the brains behind the sport recognised that stale formulas from 20 years ago were no longer allowing our sport to progress with modern times. Online entries were introduced and social media has taken over as the biggest focus of marketing. A more compact season has now allowed for riders to explore other facets of motorsport, it has also allowed clubs to run strong club and fun series, which helps with the development of the sport and finally, it also allows the top riders to compete internationally in the European or American summer.

All these changes made the first national of 2013 a much anticipated event and with pros and cons, no one was sure which would be the greater factor. When the 170 riders came streaming through the track gates on Friday, this was the first indication that the sport had moved in the right direction. Another positive factor was the nearly 2000 spectators that flooded to the circuit over the weekend. The Facebook and twitter hype prompted a top national radio station DJ to help us promote the event free of charge. Another positive factor was the track. Nationals are for the elite of SA motocross and the 2 day format provided the riders with a stern test of fitness, skill and speed, with one of the roughest tracks I have seen in SA for a while. The BUZZ in MX is amazing at the moment and we must continue to ride the crest of momentum we have created.

The 50cc senior class kicked off the racing on Friday and was one of the most stacked classes. 23 riders on the line and the future talent of SA motocross lie in this class. I was unable to see the entire race from my vantage (or disadvantage) point, but did manage to see 3 different riders holeshot and the final holeshot going to Vincent Van Rooy who collected his Skull Candy headphones. I did also see that the track was really tricky and yellow flags were out for the majority of the race. There was all sorts of chopping and changing at the front and quite a few Gauteng based riders were involved, Hayden Tully, Camden McLellan, Vincent Van Rooy, Jono Mlimi and at times, Cody Tebbut. Camden McLellan walked away with the win overall, but one thing is for sure, he is going to be hard pressed all season.

The 50cc junior class is a new addition to the 2013 MX nationals and was great to see 5 and 6 year olds out on track in their own championship. Lucas Venter impreede with 2 holeshots for the Skull Candy award, but could not beat young Barend DuToit over the 3 races. Young Emma Jennings put in a great ride to finish 3rd.

The MX2 class was up next and was stacked with talent. It was one of the goose bump races that you dream of seeing in SA motocross. A thunderous roar of 4 strokes pulled of the line to the tune of Sandstorm and 3 heats of epic racing was witnessed by the large crowd. Richard VD Westhuizen has been plagued by bad luck over the last few seasons in MX2, but this year started with an impressive 3 out of 3 wins. The holeshot award went to Ant Raynard and he walked away with an awesome set of Skull Candy Aviators. The great start in the final heat saw him also claim 2nd overall from Kerim Fitzgerald. Wyatt Avis had a great weekend up to the final heat, where his bike seized and would put him way down the overall standings.

#717 Richard van der Westhuizen

The 65cc class was a 2 horse race between Dalton Venter and Cameron Durow. Durow got the holeshot award, but Venter was too strong on his home track, taking 2 wins out of 3. Cam Durow will take heart in a solid performance and will be strong in the sand of Cape Town. Wikus Van Sandwyk was left in a lonely 3rd for most of the weekend, but did have some rivalry from Grant Hutton on occasion. Grant was fast, but too many mistakes meant that is would be an easy 3rd for Wikus. Great rides also came from Justin Sangster and Christiaan Cilliers.

The MX3 class was next. The MX3 class has been split into Vets, Masters and Grand Masters. The reigning Vets champion, Ian Topliss made light work of the class and was at times 5 seconds a lap ahead of the pack. There was an awesome dice for 2nd between, Marc Ainsley, Geoff Den, Terence Monk, Alec Combrink and Niclaas VD Linden. It was great to watch as these riders swapped out positions through the various heats.

The 85cc junior class was a great one to watch. There were 3 different winners in all 3 heats. Slade Smith looked like the sure winner of the weekend after a dominant performance on Saturday., but Sunday was not the same. Slade battled with consistency and had to settle for 2nd overall. The win in heat 2 went to Seth VD Abeele and his Yamaha looked great. Seth was hoping for a win in heat 3 to snatch the overall, but a turn 1 crash saw him drop to 3rd place for the weekend. The man who capitilized on all the mayhem was Keagan Hickson-Mahoney. Keagan won heat 3 and the overall. He also walked away with junior rider of the day and the SkullCandy holeshot prize.

The MX1 class was the only class slightly thin on numbers, but certainly was not thin on talent. Once again a dominant performance from Richie VD Westhuizen, saw him walk away with 3 out of 3. He did have a bit of pressure from Michael Docherty and Sacha Naude, but Richard would have none of that and his many years of experience and mental strength pushed him through. The pace of this class was frenetic and at some stages were running 1.55’s around Dirt Bronco, which was simply sensational.

The Pro-mini was the highlight of the day for me. 2 riders went bar to bar through all 3 heats, Marcus Phelps and Jason Visser. Marcus was leading heat 1 when he collided with Visser in a rut and they both went down. Visser remounted and managed a 3rd, but Phelps would only get a 9th. Visser managed to win the next 2 heats but not without another epic battle with Phelps. Yamaha’s Justin Thompson was the eventual winner of heat 1, but heat 2 and 3 didn’t go so well and he had to settle for 2nd overall. 3rd Place was the holeshot King, Joshua Mlimi.

The final class was also one of the biggest, the 125 high school. Heat 1 saw Brad Cox with clutch problems and as the hotshot favourite, left him down the pack fighting for positions. He showed his skill to fight through the field, despite his mechanical problems and finish in 2nd. Dylan Stokes won the first heat and is my candidate as the most improved rider of 2013. He unfortunately suffered a broken gear lever in heat 3 to finish down the field. Dirco VD Westhuizen holshotted heat 3 and finished a solid 2nd and will be a factor in 2013. A special note must be said about Nicholas Phelps who surprised everybody with outstanding performances, but crashes in the late stages of all 3 heats left him outside the top 5. He did however get some sort of redemption by winning the Skull Candy holeshot award.

All in all, the event was probably one of the greatest we have had in SA for some time and whilst the new format has many bugs to iron out, it proved successful. We look forward to a bigger, better event in Cape Town in March.

We would like to thank all the sponsors:
- Full Throttle
- Monster Energy
- Bridgestone
- Thor
- Gaerne
- Fly
- Belray
- Intertherm
- SkullCandy
- Ogio
- Racestar Graffix
- Global asp
- Warren Jennings
- And Claudine Phelps for the goodie bags.

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