24 June 2013

By Laren van der Westhuizen

MX SA: You shocked the MX fraternity with your announcement of retirement at TEZA. What prompted the announcement?
Well I've been racing MX since I was 5 years old. I've had so many good times, along with the bad. It's something that i've been thinking about for the last two years and you can't really race like that. Your head has to be clear. Even though I just turned 27, our sport is for the young. To be at the top, everyone know's how much dedication and time needs to go into it to win. For the last 14 years, since i started taking it really seriously, i've really tried to put in effort and its just time now. I think everyone knows when it's time.

MX SA: You won both championships and ended on a high. No thoughts after that, that maybe there is another year left in you?
That was the goal. I had done the double twice (winning MX1 and MX2 in the same year),and for me the third time would be the icing on the cake. The age gap for me to have raced overseas is gone and I wanted the third double really badly. That was my goal and now that I've achieved it, I feel a huge sense of relief and contentment.

MX SA: I remember some great and challenging times with you in Europe. What has been the highlight of your career?
Yeah those were good times, tough but good. I think my 12 SA National titles. When I first swung my leg over a dirt bike, being an SA champ never even crossed my mind once. Definitely racing for my country in last years MXoN. Beating Max Nagl straight up in an 85 ADAC round in 2000. I have so many great memories!

MX SA: On the other hand, what has been the toughest part of your career?
For me the toughest part is just accepting that i'm not in Europe or the US being a professional racer. It was a dream of mine and it just never materialized. Also the injuries and being away from home alone weren't my fondest memories.

MX SA: You have a reputation as being a hard worker. Is it determination or discipline that made you work so hard?
I think it's both. You have to want it badly, more than the next guy. Racing against talented guys like Wyatt and Kerim, and all the rest of the guys is not easy by any means. These guys can handle themselves more than well enough on a track. So to beat them and be in the same league of them wasn't easy. So sacrifice, hard work, dedication and determination are all the things you have to have in order to be the best.

MX SA: Who or what would you attribute your years of success to?
My family and friends. My sponsors. Without them there's just no ways I would come close to doing what I have. My family lived and sacrificed so much for me. My dad would spend many a night working on bikes trying to get them better. And spend all his money and weekends on Dave and myself. My mom put in all her hard earned money and time into Dave and myself too. Dave spent weekend after weekend helping me and being there for me at the races. It's a thankless job so I'm extremely grateful to have them behind me in whatever I do. My friends are also a big part of my life and have supported me so much over the years. I have a great group of wonderful people in my life. And without my sponsors? I'd be nowhere. Kids, look after your sponsors. It's an expensive sport so take the time to go the extra mile for them. They do notice it...

MX SA: How influential was it to be around the likes of Townley, Rattray, Leok and Swanepoel?
It was awesome as it was the same time as these guys were breaking through. I raced the same GP where Townley won his first GP of his career. I saw what they did and how much effort they put in. I knew then, what it took and what needed to be done to be successful. I tried to soak as much in as possible.

MX SA: Tinus Nel is a man that is mentioned alot in your carreer. Who is he and how did he help?
Tinus Nel is a talent scout like no other. He was a big part of Langstons, Rattrays and Swanepoels success and the reason they made it overseas. He believed in SA talent and has a huge passion for MX. He's very professional and I can owe a lot of my success due to his belief in me. We are still great friends and speak to each other often. He's a great guy.

MX SA: When will you ride your last race?
Even though I announced i'd be retiring come the end of the year, i'm still doing all the regionals, the North South challenge, the All African challenge. I will go to Zim to do the Summer Series. So still plenty of racing, just without the pressure.

MX SA: Where to from here?
I want to put all my time and energy into our company Racestar Graffix, and get more involved with our company in SA MX. I want to try help grow the sport and get it to where it should be. With guys like yourself, MXSA, and the whole team that pumped the MX nationals this year, there's no reason why we can't run the best MX this country has ever seen.

As always a huge thanks to my sponsors:

Full Throttle: A company that started with me as my title sponsor in 2010 with the goal of winning MX1 and MX2, we have grown so much over the years. I have become great friends with Ryan Shapiro and he has supported me so much. The passion he has is unbelievable at times. The big guys Shaun and Louis have also, backed me 200% so thank you guys, this has been a great journey and without you amazing help, I would never have achieved so much. A massive thanks to Full throttle.

Yamaha: Adrian Bac, Peter Wilkins, Peter Corkin and Steve Thompson put their faith into me back in 2011 and I have won a championship every year since. They are the most reliable dirtbikes I have ever ridden bar none, and for me there is only one brand of MX bike-Yamaha. This year my bikes were extremely fast, and a huge part of why I won these championships. My dad and I worked so hard with the guys at Yamaha, and the result was fast, reliable bikes that honestly, are the best motorcycles I’ve ever ridden. Thank you!! Also to Lachais and Neville, and the guys behind the scenes.

Monster Energy: A relationship that started back in 2008, this is a company that has stood by me through thick and thin over the last 6 years. Each year has gotten better and with all the effort going into videos and social media of late, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I will continue to be a brand ambassador for them, which is very exciting. Thank you to Garan, Nick, Greg, Seb, Wade and all the crew for all the effort at every race we do.

Ohlins Suspension: Vic Maharaj from VMP motorsport invested a lot into me last year bysupplying me with factory Suspension from Europe. I have never had bikes that handle so well. Thank you Vic, these last 2 years have been amazing

Oakley: My partnership with Oakley started with my first national win and title in 2000 when I was 14 years old. They have provided me with the worlds best eyewear and goggles. They are my longest standing sponsor and I’m proud to be an O athlete. A huge thank you to Seth, Matthew and Abu for all your incredible support and incredible product

TRP Distributors: Jim Tarantino and Eury have looked after me with Thor MX gear, Gaerne boots and FMF pipes since 2008. I have always looked good and been protected so a big thank you to them. I still have gear in 2008 that’s in perfect condition, and they have supplied me with a lot of gear over the years so thank you guys

Leatt Brace. Safety has always been a huge concern for me, so I am proud to have represented Leatt brace since 2007. The brace has saved me in some huge crashes and I will never ride without one. Thanks to Paul Medell and Leatt for all their Support

CTi Knee braces: Another company that I started with in 2007, CTi Knee braces have been a savior of mine in many occasions and is the big reason why I could race in PE and Teza. Le Roux Viljoen has supplied me with amazing braces over the years. Thanks so much!

Skullcandy and Ogio.: Music has always been a huge part of my life and what a better way to listen to it than through a pair of Skullcandy’s. Ogio was a new addition to the Luks brands and also travelled in style this year. Thanks guys

Unit Clothing: The amazing MX casual wear out of Oz and the States have kept me in new clothing for the past two years and their stuff is amazing. A true MX brand that I wear with pride everyday. Thanks for all the clothes and for keeping me looking fresh. Thanks to Monty and The Kartel Group here in SA.

Vortex Igntions and Game Services: Ken Somerville has helped me out with bike setup andVortex ignitions for the past couple of years and they make such a big difference to our bikes. Thanks Uncle Ken your help is much appreciated !!

32GI: We all know how physically draining MX is. Having 32Gi as a sponsor kept me going and going. Their products are the best I’ve used and I’ve been using them since they started up. Thank you for giving me endurance all year long!

Extreme clean: For all the bike wash products and for keeping my bikes and kit super clean the whole year round

The Full Throttle Yamaha Team Sponsors:
- Pirelli for all the amazing tires this year
- Repsol for all the generous amount of oils this year
- Delta for their brake pads
- Did for their chains
- Renthal for their sprockets and handlebars
- Progrip for their grips
- Shoei for keeping me kitted out in the best Helmets on the planet
- Zeta for all the bling parts making my bikes look factory

A huge thank you must go to my coach and one of my best friends Ryan Frerichs at Racestrong training. We were on an unstoppable program this year, and my body never felt as good. I haven’t been sick at all and I have felt strong the whole year. Thank you bud!

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