Full Throttle Nationals Motocross

Words: Zygmund Brodalka ǀ Photos: Brodalka Photography

Off-road Motorbiking

The 2013 season is well and truly upon us and has brought about many exciting developments in the National Motocross Championship, including a change in the format, duration and, most importantly, the focus.


So why all the changes? Well, after 20 years of doing the same things in the same way, the new motor sport body, WOMZA, recognised that this sport won't grow or progress with modern times unless there is change. And for this to happen, the focus of motocross needed to shift to that which is new and innovative. For example, online entries were introduced and social media is being used to promote the sport. Added to that, and a major boost for the sport, Monster Energy has come on-board as a co-sponsor, along with Full Throttle Racing. A better organised and more compact season has enabled riders to explore other facets of motor sport, as well as allowed clubs to run strong club and fun series, which ultimately helps with the development of the sport. It also means that our top riders, in addition to competing locally, can also compete in Europe or America in our off season.


Dirt Bronco race feedback
The nationals are for South Africa's elite motocross riders, and all the new changes made the first event of 2013 a much anticipated one, as no one was sure how they would pan out. But when 170 riders came streaming through the track gates for the opening round of the WOMZA Full Throttle National Motocross Championship event for 2013, in Krugersdorp, it was clear that the sport was moving in the right direction. The newly introduced two-day format also challenged the riders in terms of their fitness, skill, speed and stamina, on one of the roughest tracks I have seen in South Africa for a while, and I haven't seen riders look this tired in a very long time. What was also encouraging to see was that the hype on Facebook and Twitter prompted a DJ from a top national radio station to help us promote the Dirt Bronco event free of charge. This all resulted in nearly 2,000 spectators coming to watch the event over the weekend of 23 and 24 February. The buzz in motocross at the moment is amazing and I hope we continue to ride the crest of momentum that's been created.


The 50 cc Senior class kicked off the racing on Friday and was one of the most stacked classes with 23 riders on the line. This is an incredibly exciting class to watch as the future talent of SA motocross lies here, and there are many talented riders to watch out for. The track was really tricky and yellow flags were out for the majority of the race, which resulted in the constant chopping and changing at the front. After a tough race between Hayden Tully, Camden McClellan, Vincent van Rooy, Josh Mlimi and, at times, Cody Tebbut, it was Camden from Johannesburg who walked away with the overall win overall. If this race is anything to go by, he is going to be hard pressed all season to keep the lead. The final holeshot went to Vincent van Rooy, who collected his Skull Candy headphones for efforts.


In the 50 cc Junior class, it was great to see 5 and 6 year olds out on track competing in their own championship. Lucas Venter impressed with two holeshots to take the Skull Candy award, but he was unable to beat young Barend du Toit over the three Motos. Young Emma Jennings put in a great ride to finish third overall.


The 65 cc class was a two-horse race between Dalton Venter and Cameron Durow. Cameron claimed the holeshot award, but Dalton was too strong on his home track and clinched two out of three wins. Cameron can take heart from his solid performance and will no doubt be a serious threat in Cape Town. Wikus van Sandwyk was in an uncontested third place for most of the weekend, with some rivalry from Grant Hutton on occasion. Grant was fast, but too many mistakes meant it would be an easy third for Wikus. Great rides also came from Justin Sangster and Christiaan Cilliers.


The 85 cc Junior class was another great one to watch. There were three different winners in all three Motos. Slade Smith looked like the sure winner of the weekend after a dominant performance on Saturday, but Sunday proved otherwise and after battling with consistency, Slade had to settle for second overall. The winner in the second heat went to Seth van den Abeele on his Yamaha. Seth was hoping for a win in the third heat to snatch the overall win, but a turn one crash saw him drop down to third place for the weekend. The man who capitalised on all the mayhem was Keegan Hickson-Mahoney, who won the third heat and came first overall. He also walked away with Junior Rider of the day title and the Skull Candy holeshot prize.


The MX1 class was the only class slightly thin on numbers, but definitely not on talent! Another dominant performance from Richie van der Westhuizen saw him walk away with three deserved wins. He did have a bit of pressure from Michael Docherty, who recently returned from the States, and Sacha Naude, but Richard would have none of that and his many years of experience and mental strength pushed him through. The pace of this class was frenetic and at some stages they were running 1.55’s around Dirt Bronco, which was simply sensational. Ryan Angilley, who has returned from riding in the US, was also there but as pit support for Michael.


The MX2 class was once again loaded with serious talent and it turned out to be one of those goosebumps races that you only dream of seeing in local motocross. A thunderous roar of 4 strokes pulled off the line to the tune of Sandstorm, and three heats of epic racing was witnessed by the large crowd. Richard van der Westhuizen has been plagued by bad luck over the last few seasons in MX2, but has started this year with an impressive three out of three wins. A great start in the final heat saw Anthony Raynard claim second overall, with Kerim Fitzgerald in third. Wyatt Avis had a great weekend up until the final heat, when his bike seized and put him way down the overall standings. After a long absence, due to a series of injuries, we saw the return of Caleb Tennant, who is riding for his new Rockstar Kawasaki team. The holeshot award went to Anthony Raynard and he won an awesome set of Skull Candy Aviators.


The MX3 class has been split into Vets, Masters and Grand Masters, and reigning Vets Champion, Ian Topliss, made light work of the class and was at times five seconds ahead of the pack. There was an awesome dice for second between Marc Ainsley, Geoff Den, Terence Monk, Alec Combrink and Niclaas van der Linden. It was fantastic racing to watch as these seasoned riders swopped out positions through the various Motos. In the end it was Ian Topliss in first overall, Marc Ainsley in second overall and Alec Combrink in third overall.


The Pro Mini class proved to be the highlight of the day for me. Marcus Phelps and Jason Visser went bar to bar throughout all three Motos. In the first Moto, Marcus was leading, but then he collided with Visser and they both went down. Visser remounted and managed a third, but Phelps could only secure a ninth. Then it was Visser's turn to lead and he managed to win the next two Motos, but not without another major battle with Phelps. Yamaha’s Justin Thompson was the eventual winner of the first heat, but things didn't go so well for him in the second and third heats and he had to settle for second overall. Third place was holeshot King, Joshua Mlimi.


The final class, and also one of the biggest, was the 125 cc High School. The first heat saw Brad Cox battle with clutch problems, which left him lower down the pack fighting for positions. Despite his mechanical problems, he showed true skill and grit and fought back to finish in second. Dylan Stokes won the first heat, and he's my candidate as the most improved rider of 2013. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken gear lever in the third Moto, to finish down the field. Dirco van der Westhuizen holeshotted the third Moto and finished a solid second. Mark my words; he will be someone to watch out for this season. Special mention must go to Nicholas Phelps who surprised everybody with outstanding performances, but crashes in the late stages of all three races left him outside the top five. He did however get some sort of redemption by winning the Skullcandy holeshot award.


All in all, the event was probably one of the greatest we have had in South Africa for some time, and whilst the new format has many bugs to iron out, it has proved successful. Sponsors are also taking more interest in the sport and I would like to thank them for their incredible support: Full Throttle, Monster Energy, Bridgestone, Thor, Fly, Belray, FMF, Intertherm, Skullcandy, Ogio, Racestar Graphics, Global ASP and Warren Jennings, and Claudine Phelps for the goodie bags.


Until the next time, keep it pinned.


Related articles:

Motocross Revs it Up (Issue 23, p. 60)
Rough, Tough but Awesome (Digital article Feb '13)
Survival of the Mud (Digital article Feb '13)