Race Report: The Diamonds
and Dirt Amateur Ladies Fun Race - Round 1
25 March 2014
Published with Permission
by Michelle Smith
We could not have asked for better weather to kick off the
first round of the 2014 Diamonds & Dirt Amateur Ladies
Fun Race Series at Chestnut Hill Motocross Park. Thanks to
our amazing sponsors Enlightening Life, Rockstar Energy, Fox,
32Gi, MX SA and Liquor City Groenkloof, we are able to bring
the ladies a bigger and better series in 2014.
#15 Amy-Leigh Sawyer
The first half of our day was dedicated to Motocross. A large
portion of the ladies competed in both the Motocross and Enduro
parts which is quite an advantage in terms of developing riding
skills. After a quick practice session for all the groups,
we kicked off the Junior and Beginner MX on the flat track.
With long straights, some flat and small bermed corners and
five very small jumps, it is the perfect place for these ladies
to get started in MX.
As the flag dropped it was Junior, Emma Jennings and Beginner
Juliana van Niekerk that were quickest around the first corner
but 8 year old Emma started pulling away from the entire group
on her little KTM 50 Mini. With the Beginner ladies it was
the battle for second and third between Yolandi Hichens and
Christine Fick that was most exciting to watch.
As the chequered flag dropped after 8 minutes plus a lap,
it was Emma out front and Benica Phillips in second for the
Juniors. A great performance was put in by Juliana van Niekerk
in the Beginners, with Yolandi Hichens and Christing Fick
in second and third respectively. After the second heat, the
top three remained unchanged and that is how it looked with
the overall results for the day in this class.
The amazing thing to see is how even raw beginner ladies push
their limits and had some amazing battles with the other ladies.
Even more impressive was the way riding levels improved as
the day progressed.
1. Emma Jennings 50
2. Benica Phillips 44
1. Juliana van Niekerk 50
2. Yolandi Hichens 44
3. Christine Fick 40
4. Annelize Boshoff 36
5. Jessica Taljaard 36
6. Tania van der Walt 36
7. Amore Hichens 31
8. Charne Steyn 31
9. Lilian Ackhurst 28
10. Emmerencia Terblanche 26
We now moved to the main MX track for the race with our Intermediate
and Advanced MX girls. A total of ten girls competed in this
race and it was incredible to see them all reach the first
corner at the same time. Some of the starts that the ladies
pulled off were incredible. It wasnt long and the advanced
girls started edging away from the rest of the pack with regional
rider Amy-Leigh Sawyer putting in some incredible laps and
leaving the other girls behind. There was a good battle between
Samantha Erasmus, all the way from Bloemfontein, and Enduro
rider Natasha Rugani. Natasha amazed us at her MX skills and
she fought hard to pass Samantha in the first heat.
In the Intermediate group, it was Belinda de Villiers that
was the one to beat. The big battle in this race was right
behind her between Adel Pieroni, Tanya van der Walt from Pietermaritzburg
and Cathlene Roos. Adel managed to hold out to the chequered
flag in heat one with Tanya and Cathlene behind her.
In Heat two, Amy once again raced unchallenged and easily
took the checkers and the overall in the Advanced class for
the day. This time it was Samantha that managed to stay ahead
of Natasha. Natasha didnt have a great start in heat
two which left her with a lot of catching up to do but she
just ran out of time to try and make the pass on Samantha
who rode flawlessly.
For the Intermediates Belinda once again dominated but this
time it was Tanya that managed to stay ahead of Adel.
1. Amy-Leigh Sawyer 50
2. Samantha Erasmus 42
3. Natasha Rugani 42
1. Belinda de Villiers 50
2. Tanya van der Walt 42
3. Adel Pieroni 42
4. Henriette van Eck 37
5. Dominique Tursini 34
6. Cathlene Roos 19
7. Tharien Smith 18
Some of the ladies at Riders Briefing
The Enduro loop was quite a fun course which included the
flat mx track, the outride loop, a forest section and finally
a basic Enduro cross section. The Intermediate and Advanced
ladies had some bigger obstacles to get over and the Junior
and Beginner ladies smaller ones. For the Junior and Beginners
there was the option to bypass obstacles but they were penalized
on points for bypassing obstacles. This was done as an incentive
to encourage them to try some of the more basic ones.
The group of over 20 girls set out in rows of five starting
with the Advanced girls and working back to the Juniors who
set out last. The ladies had to do as many laps as they could
in the time allocated.
It was a nerve wrecking few minutes as everyone waited in
anticipation for the first lady to come in after the first
loop and approach the Enduro cross section. It was no surprise
to see Enduro rider Natasha Rugani come flying around the
corner. She breezed through the Enduro cross and set off on
her next lap. The faster ladies started coming through in
droves now, Adel Pieroni, Cathlene Roos, Margaret Kalis, Belinda
de Villiers, Helen Squirrel Armstrong, Tharien Smith, Yolani
Hichens to name a few.
Once again it was amazing to see that just about every single
one of the ladies attempted and, in almost all the cases,
succeeded at clearing the obstacles, sometimes just barely
but they did it. It was really only our Juniors Benica Phillips
and Thandazo Slaghuis that opted to skip some of them.
After a very long thirty minutes the chequered flag came out
for the Juniors and Beginners. It was young Benica Phillips
that took first place in the Juniors with Thandazo putting
in a great ride and taking second. It was incredible to see
Jenine Klette take first in the Beginners. At the end of 2013
Jenine had only had her bike for about a week when she competed
in our last event. Second place went to Juliana van Niekerk
and third to Tania van der Walt.
1. Benica Phillips 17
2. Thandazo Slaghuis 7
1. Jenine Klette 25
2. Juliana van Niekerk 20
3. Tania van der Walt 11
There was so much incredible racing between the Intermediate
and Advanced ladies and by the end of the race when the flag
came out after 45 minutes, the ladies were flying over the
obstacles to try and get those much wanted points.
The Intermediate ladies comfortably completed the course each
time and it was out of town rider Helen Squirell-Armstrong
that edged ahead of local ladies Tharien Smith and Belinda
de Villiers in the overall results.
It was our Advanced ladies that really excelled and showed
that they are all more then capable of competing in professional
racing. Natasha breezed home in first, with Adel and Cathlene
1. Helen Squirrell-Armstrong 25
2. Tharien Smith 22
3. Belinda de Villiers 20
4. Yolandi Hichens 19
5. Laura Schoonhoven 18
6. Corinna Botha 16
7. Dominique Tursini 16
8. Katherine Otty 9
9. Lourette Slaghuis 9
10. Amore Hichens 7
1. Natasha Rugani 25
2. Adel Pieroni 22
3. Cathlene Roos 20
4. Margaret Kalis 19
At our fun races, we create a stepping stone for ladies that
socially ride bikes and we purposefully provide race conditions
for ladies based on their age and skill level to ensure that
they are not placed in situations that they are not ready
for. As ladies develop their skills they have room to grow
and to move up to other classes and ultimately one day be
skilled and confident enough to race with the top girls in
the country in regional and national events.
Our format caters for MX and Enduro because so many ladies
cross ride and it is important in terms of skills development
for ladies to experience both scenarios. The best part of
our series however is that the ladies come out to have a day
of fun amongst their peers.
There are plenty of pictures posted on our Facebook page,
go check it out! Diamonds
Be on the look out for the video shot by Katherine Otty,
thanks so much Katherine for taking the time to do that!
Our next event is on the 11 May. Look out for all the details
in the coming weeks on our Facebook,
The ladies getting ready to race.
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