by Laren van der Westhuizen

MX2 No. 1: Anthony Raynard (images courtesy Brodalka Photography)

National motocross has been going to Rover for more years than any other club or track in the country. The Rover MX club has a rich history and a strong committee that has many years experience. All this together, makes a recipe for success, which I can safely say was the case for 2013. Several years ago, the Rover MX chairman, Theo Mare, had a dream to take mx to a higher level. This weekend, that vision was a reality, albeit under new chairmanship of Clayton Barnardo. The Rover committee put together a great track, great event PR and more importantly, a great show. All the nationals have been great this year, but I think my vote has to go to PE as the best so far.

The 50cc track was awesome. Ups and downs and elevation changes that we hope to see in a GP track. Of course the Rover track is the sandiest in the country and that made life tough for the 50cc juniors, but by the end of day 2, the riders had improved 10 fold. The junior class was won by local star, Kyle Phillips, who lapped the entire field. The Vision racing entry of James Thompson had his best national of the season, finishing 2nd, ahead of championship leader, Lukas Venter. Liam Botha was 4th.

The 50cc senior class was a one horse race, Camden McLellan cleaned up the first 2 heats and was way ahead in the final heat when a silly mistake put him back to 2nd. The weekend didn’t start well for Camden, as a mechanical failure meant he would only qualify in 17th. This overall win puts him +- 6 points in the lead going into the final round in Teza. The man he was battling with was Jono Mlimi. Jono has a number 2 on his bike and badly wants to change it for a number 1. The Cape Town rider, Ike Klaasen was awesome in practice and had the fastest time, but bad starts plagued his day and 3rd was the best he could do. Hayden Tully was 4th and AJ Fourie was 5th.

The 65cc class was the class I had most respect for. The conditions were so bad for them, they had to change the track for the last heat just so they could make it around. The PE local, Grant Hutton, didn’t start the weekend well, with a few falls in heat 1. He did manage a 2nd despite the crashes. Grant came back on Sunday and won both heats. Dalton Venter went into the weekend with the red plate, but a solid ride from Wikus Van Sandwyk, means he will go to his home national with a slight points lead and will definitely be the favourite to win. Cam Durow showed great speed and in heat 2 was just about as fast as Hutton, but a first turn crash and bits of bad luck meant he had to settle for 3rd. Dalton Venter is not a sand rider by any means, but will be happy with 4th and still in the hunt for the title. Justin Sangster was 5th.

The 85cc class was one-way traffic for the local favourite, Seth VD Abeele. Much like Grant Hutton, his weekend started a bit nervously. 2 falls left him way back of Slade Smith. Fortunately for Seth, Slade crashed as well which allowed Seth to catch him and take the win. Slade did not make it to the line for heat 3, which meant that Matthew Kruger would place 2nd overall. He is on a real mission this season and looks good as a prospect for 2014. Cayle Dormehl got stronger as the weekend went on. He almost past Matthew Kruger on the last lap of the final race but ran out of time. His 3rd will give him plenty encouragement for the last round in KZN. For me, Ethan Van Heerden was a real surprise. He has obviously been training hard and his 4th place showed it.

Unlike the previous 2 classes, the Pro Mini class was definitely not one-way traffic. A different winner in each heat throughout the weekend. Marcus Phelps won heat 1 and had the fastest times throughout the weekend, but mechanical failure and bad luck meant he could only manage a 5th overall. He even crashed hard whilst passing for the lead in the final heat. Jason Visser looked like he was riding cleverly to protect his healthy championship lead. He finished 2nd overall, but lost 6 points to the eventual winner, who also stems from PE, Bevin Potgieter. Bevan rode hard in the final heat, battling with Marcus Phelps. When Marcus crashed, that left Bevin with an easy win and the overall. Marco DeVrye finished 2nd in heat 3 and 3rd overall. Looks like Marco is finding some real form.

Brad Cox is heading for the USA this week to try to qualify for the Loretta Lynns. He has been putting in hard work and it paid off in PE. The money was all on Dylan Stokes to win the High School class, as the SA sand specialist, but Brad was on another level this weekend and took 3 out of 3. Dylan was actually left to battle with Dirco VD Westhuizen who is improving daily on the 125. Dirco finished 2nd in heat 1, but was just beaten in heat 2 and 3 by Dylan Stokes. Connor Fletcher and arch rival, Nicholas Phelps were 4th and 5th respectively.

MX1 No.1: Richard van der Westhuizen (images courtesy Brodalka Photography)

The MX1 class was the Richie VDW show again. The rougher the track got, the more he won by. He was the only rider who could more or less maintain his lap times throughout the 20min heat. 2nd overall with a 3rd, 4th and 2nd , was Royce Griffen. Royce was 4 seconds a lap quicker than anybody else in qualifying, but hasn’t been able to transfer that into a race just yet. Sacha Naude had great speed, but in all 3 starts, was left standing. He spent most of the time swallowing sand from the pack ahead of him. He did manage to persist enough to finish up 3rd. Wyatt Avis is looking better on his Husky 450 as he finished 4th overall ahead of Kerim Fitzgerald. Ross Branch was leading heat 1 and looking really good when he had a big crash and injured his shoulder. He did ride the rest of the weekend, but the shoulder was too weak to ride like he did in heat 1.

Ian Toplis won the vets class with 3 out of 3. He didn’t have too much trouble from his nemesis, Roger Bergstrom, who was nursing a knee injury. PE local, Craig Kruger finished in 3rd. The Masters class was won by Terence Monk who had his best weekend in years. He finished ahead of Alec Combrink and another PE local, Ashton Ferreira. Geoff Den won the Grand masters class.

Richie VD Westhuizen won the MX2 class, but had his hands full with a resurgent Kerim Fitzgerald. Kerim managed to win heat 2, but couldn’t manage to pass Wyatt Avis in heat 1 and 3. Wyatt finished 3rd overall ahead of a solid day from Justin Mittens. Caleb Tennant made silly mistakes, but still managed 5th overall in a stacked MX2 class. Anthony Raynard was really fast, but bike trouble in heat 1 put him way down. Tristan Purdon also had bike trouble and had to settle for 7th.

The track was insane by the final heat. I would say almost unrideable except for top national competitors. It was a true test of bike body and skill. There was a great spectator turnout and all I can say is I look forward to TEZA in June.

Photographs courtesy Brodalka Photography: 083 415 5098

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