In the Sand Pit - Full Throttle Monster Energy Nationals Round 3

Words: Zygmund Brodalka | Photos: Brodalka Photography

Off-road Motorbiking

National motocross races have been held at Rover MX Club, in PE, for more years than any other club or track in the country. Proof of this is the wonderful old pictures of the start line that grace the walls of the clubhouse. The club also has a rich history and is supported by a strong and passionate committee, who have many years of experience between them. When you combine these qualities, you have the makings of a success story, as has been the case for 2013.



Several years ago, Rover MX’s chairman, Theo Mare, dreamed of taking motocross to a higher level. The weekend of 4 and 5 May 2013 saw this vision become a reality, albeit under the new chairmanship of Clayton Barnardo at the PE leg of the Nationals. The Rover Committee pulled out all the stops with a track in world-class condition, an excellent PR campaign to bring feet through the gates, and they put on a truly amazing show – and the weather played along too for the entire weekend. Although all the Nationals have been great this year, my vote has to go to PE as the best so far.


The 50 cc track was awesome, with the ups and downs and elevation changes that we hope to see in a GP track. The Rover track is the sandiest in the country and that made life tough for the 50 cc Juniors, but by the end of day two, the riders had improved tenfold. The Junior class was won by local star, Kyle Phillips, who lapped the entire field. James Thompson had his best National of the season to finish second, ahead of championship leader, Lukas Venter. Liam Botha was fourth.


In the 50 cc Senior class, the weekend didn’t start out well for Camden McLellan, as a mechanical failure during the qualifiers resulted in him qualifying in 17th. Thereafter, however, he showed what a great rider he is and cleaned up in the first two Motos and was way ahead in the final heat when a silly mistake put him back into second. The overall win puts him approximately six points in the lead going into the final round at TEZA. The man he was battling with was Jono Mlimi. Jono has a number 2 on his bike and badly wants to change it for a number 1. Cape Town rider Ike Klaasen was awesome in practise and had the fastest time, but bad starts plagued his day and third was the best he could pull off. Hayden Tully was fourth, with AJ Fourie in fifth.


The 65 cc class was the class I had most respect for. The conditions were so bad for them that the track had to be changed for the last heat, just so the riders could make it around. PE local Grant Hutton also didn’t have a great start to his weekend either, and took a few falls in the 1st Moto. He managed a second despite the crashes and came back on Sunday with a vengeance to win both Motos. Dalton Venter went into the weekend with the red plate, but a solid ride from Wikus van Sandwyk will see him go to his home National with a slight points lead and he will definitely be the favourite to win. Cam Durow showed great speed in the 2nd Moto, but a first turn crash and some bad luck meant he had to settle for third. Dalton Venter is not a sand rider by any means, but he'll be happy with fourth knowing that he is still in the hunt for the title. Last year’s 50 cc Pro Champion, Justin Sangster, had a tough time on the bigger bike and finished fifth.


The 85 cc class was one-way traffic for local favourite Seth van der Abeele. Much like Grant Hutton, his weekend started out a bit nervously and two falls left him way behind Slade Smith. Fortunately for Seth, Slade also crashed and this allowed Seth to catch him and take the win. Slade did not make it to the line for heat three, so Matthew Kruger moved to second overall. He is on a real mission this season and looks a great prospect for 2014. Cayle Dormehl got stronger as the weekend went on and he almost passed Matthew Kruger on the last lap of the final Moto, but ran out of time. His third will give him plenty of encouragement for the last round in KZN. For me, Ethan van Heerden was a real surprise. He has obviously been training hard and his fourth place showed it.


Unlike the previous two classes, the Pro Mini class was definitely not one-way traffic, with a different winner in each of the Moto’s throughout the weekend. Marcus Phelps won the 1st Moto and had the fastest times throughout the weekend, but mechanical failure and bad luck left him in fifth overall. Jason Visser, who was going all out to protect his healthy championship lead, finished second overall, but lost six points to the eventual winner, Bevin Potgieter. Bevan, also from PE, rode hard in the final Moto as he battled it out with Marcus Phelps. But when Marcus crashed, he left Bevin with an easy win and the overall lead. Marco de Vrye finished second in the final Moto and third overall. It looks like Marco is finding some real form!


Brad Cox, who is heading for the USA in early June to try to qualify for the Loretta Lynns, has been putting in some hard work and it paid off in PE. The money was all on Dylan Stokes, the SA sand specialist, to win the High School class, but Brad was on another level this weekend and took three out of three. Dylan was left to fend off Dirco van der Westhuizen, who is improving daily on the 125. Dirco finished second in the 1st Moto, but was just beaten in the 2nd and 3rd Motos by Dylan, to finish third overall. Connor Fletcher and his arch-rival, Nicholas Phelps, were fourth and fifth respectively.



The MX1 class was an all Richie van der Westhuizen showdown once again. The rougher the track got, the more he excelled. He was the only rider who could more or less maintain his lap times throughout the 20-minute heat. PE’s Royce Griffen claimed second overall with a third, fourth and second. Although Royce was 4 seconds a lap quicker than anybody else in qualifying, he just wasn’t able to transfer that into a race. Sacha Naude had great speed, but was left standing in all three starts and spent most of the time swallowing sand from the pack ahead of him. Through sheer persistence, he managed to finish up third. Wyatt Avis is looking better and better on his Husky 450 and finished fourth overall ahead of Kerim Fitzgerald. Ross Branch was leading in Moto 1 and looking really good when he had a big crash and injured his shoulder. He continued racing, but his shoulder was too weak to ride like he did in the 1st Moto of the weekend. Other faces we haven’t seen this year were Lloyd Vercuill and Chad Butler and they were a welcome sight.


Ian Toplis won the Vets class with three out of three, as he didn’t have too much trouble from his nemesis, Roger Bergstrom, who was nursing a knee injury. PE local Craig Kruger finished in third.


The Masters class was won by Terence Monk, who had his best weekend in years. He finished ahead of Alec Combrink and another PE local, Ashton Ferreira. The Masters class also saw the return of Cape Town’s Damien van Zyl, who is picking up the pace after not having ridden for seven years. Damien raced in the Nationals up to 2006, then went to New York to work as a Hugo Boss Model and has since returned to South Africa and now builds up very interesting muscle cars and old trucks. The Grand Masters class was won by Geoff Den.


Richie van der Westhuizen won the MX2 class, but had his hands full with a resurgent Kerim Fitzgerald. Kerim managed to win the 2nd Moto, but couldn’t manage to pass Wyatt Avis in the 1st and 3rd Moto. Wyatt finished third overall, ahead of a solid day from Justin Mittens. Caleb Tennant made silly mistakes, but still managed fifth overall in a stacked MX2 class. Anthony Raynard was really fast, but a blown out clutch in the 1st Moto put him way down leader board. Tristan Purdon also had bike trouble and had to settle for seventh.


The track was insane by the final heat. I would say it was almost unrideable, except for the top National competitors. There was not a part of the track that did not have deep ruts or lines over the six and seven metre wide track, making it a true test of bike body and skill.


I’m looking forward to TEZA on 15 and 16 June 2013, and with the small points’ differences, it’s guaranteed to be a showdown of note. TEZA is also a fantastic setting and offers spectators a great view of the hard-packed track that will see the riders flying around it at high speed. So don’t miss this action-packed event as the battle of who will be crowned the Masters of Terra Firma continues!


Overall results



1 Richard vd Westhuizen (1) 75
2 Royce Griffin (141) 61
3 Sacha Naude (54) 61



1 Richard vd Westhuizen (717) 72
2 Kerim Fitz-Gerald (108) 65
3 Wyatt Avis (50) 63



1 Ian Topliss (1) 75
2 Geoff Den (11) 75
3 Terrence Monk (110) 72


MX 50 cc Junior

1 Kyle Phillips (84) 75
2 James Thompson (35) 64
3 Lucas Venter (121) 61


MX 50 cc Pro

1 Camden McLellan (122) 72
2 Jonathon Mlimi (2) 69
3 Ike Klaassen (44) 58


MX 65 cc

1 Grant Hutton (46) 72
2 Wikus van Sandwyk (22) 67
3 Cameron Durow (58) 60


MX 85 cc

1 Seth van den Abeele (38) 75
2 Matthew Kruger (4) 63
3 Cayle Dormehl (20) 58


MX High School

1 Bradley Cox (300) 75
2 Dylan Stokes (810) 64
3 Dirco vd Westhuizen (12) 62


MX Pro Mini

1 Bevin Potgieter (30) 67
2 Jason Visser (14) 61
3 Marco de Vrye (92) 59