Round 4 of the Official MSA MX National Championship was greeted by cloudy skies at a cool and overcast Thunder Valley MX Park near Willowton, Pietermaritzburg.
Following an action packed double header weekend at Rounds 2 & 3 riders and teams were itching to go racing again. Track conditions became increasingly difficult for the riders to manage with deep ruts being the challenge of the day setting up a fascinating day of racing.
MX 50cc: Riley Geldenhuys #33 started the day as the Red Plate holder and he would have his hands full battling Parker Cik #333 and RTR team’s Luan Jordaan for top spot. Cik lead Heat 1 from the gate drop to the chequered flag however he was shadowed all race long by Geldenhuys who took the flag less than a second behind the #333. Heat 2 rewarded us with one of the most exciting heats of the day. Cik made another perfect start to take the lead with Geldenhuys and Jordaan hot on his heels. Cik had great speed, but maybe a bit to fast as he crashed while leading in around lap 4/5, allowing Riley to pass and take the win and the overall. Keeping the red plate going into Round 5 at Tezza. Behind them a huge battle raged all race long from 4th to 12th position including the likes of Bjorn Roëts #512, Mason Barnes.
MX1: Championship Leader Cameron Durow #58 rode two near flawless races and romped away to a comfortable double win on his Red Bull KTM. A good start was especially important in the MX1 class on the day and Out of Africa Monster Energy Yamaha‘s Jesse Wright #14 took the holeshot in Heat 1 and settled into his rhythm after being passed by Durow halfway through lap 1. MX1 rookie Stav Orland continues to impress as he hunted down and passed Wright on his way to 2nd place. Dirco Van Der Westhuizen #100 finished 4th ahead of Husqvarna‘s Joshua Mlimi #411 and Jayden Proctor #81 who returned to National MX with a new number and new Honda race bikes. Heat 2 saw Mlimi taking the holeshot with Orland slotting in behind him ahead of Durow and the factory Yamaha duo. Durow took his time working his way to the front and never looked back after he slid up the inside of Mlimi into turn 3. Mlimi resisted pressure from Orland and Van der Westhuizen to take 2nd along with a 2nd overall on the day. Van der Westhuizen took 3rd as Wright and Orland faded towards the end of the Moto to finish 4th and 5th.
MX Highschool: Defending Champion Luke Grundy #450 was happy to be racing at his home track despite feeling a little but under the weather. Barend du Toit #101 threw everything he had at Grundy but it was not enough to dethrone the champion on the day. Grundy took the double win with du Toit taking 2nd overall via a 2-2 finish. Class Rookie Jordan Van Wyk #747 is beginning to make his presence felt amongst the big boys as he went on to go 3-3 which secured him his first ever podium in the High School class. Blake Young #44 and Tristan Durow #444 were consistent Top 5 runners with Young taking 4th overall ahead of Durow.
MX 65cc: Evan Frost #1 dominated the 65cc class using all his speed and experience to take two comfortable victories. Rookie and stand out performer of 2023, Trenton Kretzmannn went 2-2 for 2nd overall. Kretzmann was able to match the pace of Frost in the early stages of the motos but didn’t have enough over race distance to challenge for victory. Aiden Retief #42 made a step forward from Round 3 stepping onto the podium twice with a pair of 3rd places. Cassie Van Zyl and Rayden Woolls took 4th and 5th overall respectively.
MX3: KTM‘s Anthony Raynard #23 had a relatively quiet but successful day with a convincing double win ahead of Royce Griffin #141 who secured P2 on his YZ250.
Jonathan Du Plooy #15 completed the podium aboard his KTM followed by Sheldon Watkins #757. Title contender Dean Wheeler #135 was not present as he continues to recover from injury.
MX Ladies: The Ladies class saw an epic showdown between Kayla Raaf #1 VS Leah Heygate #176. Heygate came out of the gates firing taking the holeshot and extending a lead over Raaf. Raaf relentlessly pursued Heygate closing the gap to under a second starting the last lap. Heygate held on to take victory, only 0.400 seconds ahead of Raaf at the flag. Cheyenne De Lima #484 finished a lonely 3rd in front of Zoe Botha #128 with Kawasaki‘s Dakota Grobbelaar #42 in 5th for both heats. Heat 2 followed an identical script to the first race however Raaf was able to fight her way into the lead with a clinical block pass to take the lead with 4 laps to go. Heygate responded but ran out of time to find a way through back on her rival.
MX Support: As is often the case in the MX Support class many local riders to measure themselves against the countries best MX riders. Wildcards Luke Walker #312 and Daniel Peckham #247 were the top two men claiming 1st and 2nd overall. “Steve-O” Steve Baker was victorious in his race long head-to-head battles with Keegan Du Plooy #94. Baker took 3rd overall from Du Plooy with veteran Quentin Foster #51 in 5th.
MX2: Red Bull KTM teammates Cameron Durow #1 and Jono Mlimi #259 got off to flying start storming to a 1-2 finish in Heat 1. Mark Carty #24 continued his rich regin of form, backing up his debut podium at Round 3 with another strong ride helped by a good start. He spent the moto stalking Mlimi, eventually taking the flag 4 seconds behind making it a KTM podium lockout. Dalton Venter #151 was 4th with Stav Orland #265 5th. Heat 2 featured another 1-2 for Durow and Mlimi with Mark Carty making it 3 straight podiums, after a superb comeback from a terrible start. Stav Orland was running in 2nd place from the start until an unfortunate crash on the final lap dropped him to 4th place. Venter was close behind but unable to capitalize on Orland’s error which left him in 5th for the heat and the day.
MX 85cc: Arguably the most competitive class alongside the 125s, the 85cc class did not disappoint in terms of entertainment. Christian Berrington-Smith #141 extended his championship lead with a dominant performance in both heats going 1-1 for 1st overall. Ashton Martin #7 was 2nd with Aiden Henley #51, #Blade Tilley #125 and Trail Carter #476 close behind. Blake Frost #29 was in podium contention until two crashes dropped him to the back of the field.
Frost quickly redeemed himself with a stunning holeshot in Heat 2 leading the early laps of the race with a horde of riders chasing him down. After Berrington-Smith made his way into the lead the battle ensued for the remaining podium places. Ashton Martin came through the train to take 2nd with Blade Tilley continuing to impress in the 85cc class in 3rd. Frost took 4th ahead of Henley and Jack Anderson.
And so concludes Round 4, the riders impressed all with their ability to deal with the ‘gnarly’ track conditions. A huge thanks to them and all who help put together this amazing show. Excitement is already building for Round 5!
Written by: Themba Khumalo