Words & Photos: Dean Venish
Queenstown, a small town sitting in the middle of the Eastern Cape that’s known for its red hot summers and friendly folk, was no different on 5 October 2013, as the mercury hovered around the 36°C mark at the much-anticipated N6 Motox Challenge, hosted by Settlers Motox Club.
As is the norm at this venue, the track was prepped perfectly and with the sprinklers going and water truck busy, it was all looking good for a great day of racing. However, riders would have to be very fit, as the heat would sap every last drop of their energy.
In the 50 cc Pro, it was a three-way battle between the East London boys, Breece Romans, Kyle Phillips, and Chase Hanekom. However, Liam Botha had other ideas and slipped into third. Kyle had his hands full as he fought back from fourth to reclaim the third overall spot at the end of the day. Chase took first and Breece second in both heats. However, the results didn’t quite tell the whole story as Wian du Plooy from Bloemfontein put on a great performance as he and the remainder of the field battled it out.
Next up was the 50 cc Junior class and here the top three were even closer. Seth Smith got the holeshot in the first heat, but he just could not keep Keegan Hanekom out and had a right battle keeping Tyler Dienar back in third place. The overall win went to Keegan, with Seth in second and Tyler in third. Fighting it out for fourth to six places was Merrick Collins, Dirk Groenewald and Damian Howard, who were having their own race and many a parent and grandparent ended up quite hoarse by day’s end.
The 65 cc class saw Titus Iveson dominate in the first heat and was doing the same in the second when he had a huge wipeout. As a result, he had to draw on every ounce of his skill and determination and finally on the last lap, his efforts were well rewarded when came through to win the second heat. Rynard Venter had a great day, claiming the number two spot in both heats, with Chase Hanekom hot on his heels to to take third overall. The surprise of the day must be that of Chad Lundie, who hung in there and consistently ticked off laps as he just got faster and faster - he has really improved his motocross. Breece Romans and Louwrens Spies both had massive wipeouts and DNF in the first heat, but came back strongly in the second heat to finish the race.
The Ladies class had a great vibe and thanks to Sandy Wicks, they were well supported with some tense but excited faces at the gates. For some of the ladies, this was the first time they were competing in a major event and some nerves were evident, but these quickly disappeared once they were under starter’s orders. Queenstown is known for big jumps, but the girls handled the jumps and speed sections superbly.
The MX Beginners and Veterans classes ran together and Craig Bell, from Borc Tempe MX, on his trusty Suzuki, had the youngster’s eating his dust in both heats to clinch first overall. Craig told me he was very happy with the track and his bike handled perfectly on the day. The Bloem boys took a top-three clean sweep in the Veterans class (something about them being hot guys used to hot weather!). Ryan Moolman came in second overall, with Marius Moolman a close third over Rob Wicks. In the MX Beginners class, David Canning of BMXC, also on a Suzuki, just pipped local rider Richard van der Berg into second place, with another BMXC, rider C.J Olivier, in third.
The MX Intermediate class was one of the biggest classes on the day and was totally dominated by BMXC riders. The top five places went to Gareth Green in first, Chad Howard second, Wesley Lockem third, Christopher Renwick fourth, and George Herman fifth.
The MX Expert class was always going to be the class to watch, with Marc ‘Bomber’ Baxter on form and Tristan Purdon back on a Honda and almost on home ground (Cathcart homeboy). If I was a betting man, my money would have been on Purdon (if he didn’t wring the Honda’s neck), with Queenstown local lad Justin Wood (JW) as a very strong contender. The first heat saw Purdon take the top podium spot, with Baxter a close second and JW in third. Phew, although it was close, my ‘bet’ was still safe. In heat two, I was even more worried because Bloem local Tyson Engelbrecht and BMXC locals Jason Hannan and Wade Wright had also joined the fray. But could they hang in with the faster and younger Purdon, who is a schoolboy that races beyond his years?
Wright, on his new 450 Honda, got the holeshot, with JW right on his back wheel and Baxter, Purdon, and Engelbrecht snapping at their dust. Lap two saw Baxter move into first, with Purdon and Wright behind him, and Hannan coming on strong. Baxter managed to hold onto first place, but Purdon was closing in fast and Hannan had gotten past Wright and was in third place. Towards the end of the heat, Purdon passed Baxter, but after a jump in the forest section Baxter reclaimed the lead and went on to take the heat. Purdon finished in second and Hannan third. Baxter and Purdon both ended on 47 points for the day. However, Baxter’s first in the second heat gave him the nod for first overall.
Prize-giving took place at the Yacht Club and there was much partying and celebrating, especially by Border Motocross, the club that took the N6 Challenge Trophy for 2013, and a very happy Border Chairman Luc Hannan.
Big thanks go to Settlers Motox Club and all the sponsors for their part in making the WOMZA N6 Challenge such a huge success. Special mention must go to Justin Wood, Mark Bradley, and all of the Queens College scholars who assisted in the marshalling.