South Africa takes top spot at the MX of African Nations.
9 September 2014

Published with Permission.
Written by Laren van der Westhuizen

The SA Team. Image courtesy Brodalka Photography.

In 1999 Zimbabwe launched the very first inter country championship in Africa called the AMU, (African motorcycle union). The race was world class and on a world class track in Donnybrook Zimbabwe. Since then the series moved to Morocco, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Zambia to name a few and also changed its name to FIM Africa. This year, the event moved to Zambia for the 2nd time. This time though, it was held on the Mopani mine track in Kitwe in the copper belt. The mine assisted in making this event one of the best to date. Kevin Bohling and his team did a fantastic job on the track and was perfect on both days. Most riders commented that it was a fun track to ride with some BIG jumps and some technical sections.

The day started with the 125 class, otherwise known as the kamikaze pilots. Heat 1 got off to a flyer and it was clear that SA had a strong team here, with Reid Sinnicks and Peter Thompson to back him up. Joshua Mlimi was riding as an individual rider and got the holeshot in heat 1. As hard as Reid Sinnicks tried, he could not make the pass. Peter Thompson rode out of his skin to bring home a solid 3rd for SA. In heat 2 and 3, Reid Sinnicks reversed the role and left the chasing to Joshua Mlimi. Reid seemed to get stronger and stronger through the day and was your eventual 125 winner. Joshua Mlimi was 2nd ahead of Peter Thompson and a great ride from Thor Kituyi from Kenya who busts the biggest scrubs I have seen. Zambia’s Scott Heygate was 5th.

Reid Sinnicks.

The big guns of the MX1 class were next and Botswana would have an opportunity to score their first official win in an FIM Africa event, with Ross Branch. Win is exactly what he did and in doing so re-wrote the history books with not only Botswana’s first official win, but 5 FIM Africa titles. The battle would be for 2nd between team SA’s Wade Den and individual rider from Congo, Frank Verhoerstrate who displayed incredible corner speed. Wade did enough to hold onto 2nd and Frank 3rd. Zambia’s Carl Agente rode well to beat a strong contingent of Zimbabweans and score valuable points for Zambia.

The MX lites was once again a Zimbabwe versus SA affair and it was clear that those would be the 2 countries going for the title. SA scored big points in this class with a win from Janes Van Sandwyk and a 3rd from his younger brother Wikus. The 2 brothers were separated by former SA champ, now riding for Zimbabwe, Regan Wasmuth. Regan tried hard to upset the apple cart and was able to win the first heat, but Janes was relentless in the next 2 and Regan had to settle for 2nd. Regan was happy that his teammate, Josh Goby was able to race for 4th and pick up some much needed points

Team Manager Grant Foley congratulates Janes van Sandwyk on his win. Thanks Fox and Ekerold Yamaha on behalf of Janes.

The 65cc class saw another Zimbabwean win a heat, Davin Cocker was on form, but just failed to to get the starts he needed in the remaining heats and left the winning to young SA star rider, Jono Mlimi. Zimbabwe did pick up BIG points in this class as they finished 2nd with Davin Cocker, 3rd with Tristan Grainger and 4th with Regan Bond. Christiaan Cilliers had a big crash in heat 3 and only managed 3 points which put him down in 5th.

The MX2 class was where the crowd went mad. Zambian rider, Bradley Lionnet was freshly back from the USA and a top 10 result at Lorettas and rode like a demon. He won all 3 heats setting some of the fastest times. 1min36secs was the fastest time of the day. Whilst he put on a riding display, the rest were left to fight over 2nd. Once again, a South African stuck his nose in the action and picked up what points he could and that was Zane Farquharson. Zane really kicked into another gear in Zambia and hanging on to Brad for a few laps helped his pace. Zimbabwe’s Ashleigh Thixton rode a 125 and was quick enough to beat a hard charging Dart Lobjoit from Botswana. Dart was fast, but a few mistakes cost him a podium.

Zane Farquharson.

The 50cc Class was an excellent display of what we have to expect in the years to come. These little guys raced a relatively rough portion of the main track and it was incredible to see the skills of these little guys. The day belonged to young Daiyaan Manuel who is on top form this year and got three out of three wins. James Thompson rode like a star, he managed a third in the first heat but once he got the feeling of the track managed two second places to follow for a second overall for the day. Young Emmanuel Bako got third overall for the day.

The ladies class was one of the most anticipated on the day. 5 Zambians, 5 South Africans and 1 Ugandan went head to head for the honours. In practice and qualifying it was clear that Zambian rider Leah Heygate would be hard to beat. The young lady who rides without gloves knew the track and had all the jumps dialled. In the racing however, Nanda Swiegers with her international experience, got the holeshot and began a battle with Leah. Brittany Cuthbert was back in 3rd, but not really in the groove yet. Nanda would eventually do enough to win but with the Zambian breathing down her neck. In heat 2, Brittany Cuthbert found a turbo button and went 3 seconds a lap quicker. She caught her SA teammate Nanda and made the pass for the lead. Nanda tried to fight back, but Brittany was riding with some determination. Brittany won the heat ahead of Nanda and Leah a distant 3rd. Toni Jardine was a solid 4th. It was all to ride for in heat 3. Nanda made it 3 holeshots out of 3 and this time Brittany was down in 4th off the start as Leah Heygate and Victoria Van Breda got great starts. Brittany took some time to get going, but slowly picked off the riders 1 by 1 and on the final lap, dived on the inside of Nanda and took the lead. There was nothing Nanda could do and had to settle for 2nd. Leah Heygate was 3rd, Toni Jardine was 4th, Victoria Van Breda was 5th and Jenna Bohling was 6th.

Team Captain Nanda Swiegers, Team Manager Grant Foley and young James Thompson.

The Vets class gave Zambia another chance to celebrate. Dale holiday won all 3 heats and was only under pressure in the final heat from team SA rider, Geoff Den. Uganda had reason to celebrate as their team captain, Arthur Blick finished on the podium in 3rd. Shaun White from Zimbabwe made a return to action for the event and finished 4th ahead of teammate, Trevor Thixton.
The masters class was a Zimbabwe domination. Blaize Thomas has long been one of Zimbabwe’s top riders and he dragged his brother Shane along for the ride as they finished 1 and 2. Mark Bradford from Zambia was 3rd.

When the final results were posted, Botswana was 6th overall. They had some great results, but not the depth that was required to really challenge a podium. Uganda was 5th and are showing signs of real improvement, but I have to say that it was Kenya in 4th that really impressed me. They have come a long way and have some young stars in the making. Zambia got 3rd, but it was Zimbabwe and SA that were tie on points at the end of the event that stole the show. After a heat by heat count out, SA took top honours and retain the FIM Africa title.

On behalf of the SA Team they would like to thank FIM Africa, Motorsport South Africa, Portable Shade, Mopani Mine, Grant Foley, Monster Energy and Dirt Nurse and anyone else that was involved in making this such an amazing event!

The Ladies Team. Natasha Rugani, Toni Jardine, Anais Steenkamp, Brittany Cuthbert and Nanda Swiegers.

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