Rover MX double header was set to be the ultimate challenge of man and machine against the legendary sand.
After weeks of preparation and with good rains a few days before, the track was a pleasurable dust free weekend of motocross racing at the infamous Rover Motorcycle Club in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).
South Africa’s top riders started setting up early on Friday and walked the track inspecting the various technicalities which lay ahead. The sand of Rover is home to the sand dragon since 1950 shifting the dunes and the lines as race day progresses.
Daylight had barely sneaked through for the early start of Round 6 and Round 7 of the Official Motorsport South Africa’s Motocross Nationals and the brisk air kept the mid-winter shivers alive at riders’ briefing. The weekend of a double header with double the action, double the entertainment and double the pressure with 100 points on the table per class for the weekend where champions could be decided.
The 50cc class was dominated by the front runners Riley Geldenhuys #33, Mason Visser #420 and Parker Cik #333 with Eastern Cape’s homegrown Geldenhuys and Visser pulling two wins each out the bag and Cik exceptionally consistent with 4 2nd places. Aden Fisher #86 kept the pressure pot extremely tight mixing it up with Ben Jacobs #506 and Dorian Botes #84. Mason Barnes #193, Coby Kretzmann #15 and Joshua Naude #34 kept that mid-pack abuzz as the 50s battled it out. Jarret Botes #83 kept it tight with Rourke Walker #118 along with Wian Scheepers #263 and Cole Kruger #29.
It was Cik who identified as the fastest rider on 2 wheels in the 50cc class, winning the FIM fastest 50cc lap time award of R500. Mason Visser chiselled his mark with the top step of the podium on Saturday followed by Riley Geldenhuys in 2nd and Cik took 3rd. Sunday told a slightly different story with Cik nudging ahead on the top step with Geldenhuys in 2nd and Visser in 3rd.
The MX65cc class was probably the most daunting class of the day battling it out on Rovers’ sand with the small wheels on the soft sand making it even more challenging. Trenton Kretzmann #94 and home boy Aiden Retief #42 tied for 1st on Saturday but it was Retief’s better 2nd heat that bumped him up the ladder to 1st place with an amazing smooth ride. 2nd place was Kretzmann followed by Cassie van Zyl #234 on his Husqvarna. Evan Frost #1 in 4th and Kyle Brunette #305 in 5th and Ross Mackenzie #85 brought a good game and put up a challenging race.
Sunday again told a very different story with Kretzmann taking both wins and Retief hot on his heels with 2nd place and van Zyl holding onto the last step of the podium. Frost was close behind in 4th and Brunette in 5th. Rayden Wools #345 in 6th, Ross Mackenzie #85 in 7th, Seth van der Walt #801 in 8th.
The MX85cc pilots put up an incredible fight in the sand with outstanding riding from the Eastern Cape bullet Andrew Venter # 907 picking two wins, a second and a third on the weekend. Blade Tilley #125 also had some fun in the sand with a win, a second and two fourth places. Ashton Martin #7 did amazingly well to achieve a 2nd , and a 3rd podium spot. Jack Anderson #122 was not letting go and kept the hot wheels flying with a 2nd and two 3rd places. Aiden Henley clinched a spectacular win in the last heat showing the sand dragon how it’s done.
MX High School was overloaded with heart? hot? racing action across all 4 heats. There was no sitting down for these riders as they took on a gruelling pace. Luke Grundy #1 took all four wins but not without a fight from Blake Young #44 and the young star Jordan van Wyk #747. Van Wyk stayed on the podium 3 times clinching two second places and a third on the Red Bull Podium. Young met the match with 3 podiums including a second place and two third places. Tristan Durow #444 had a squeaky clean run in heat 1 on day 1 with a powerful 2nd place. Home town rider Kyle Townsend #447 managed to step onto the podium with a 3rd place in heat 2 on day 1 and two 4th places. Durow was consistent in the top mix with his 2nd, a 4th and two 5th places. Daniel Venter #222, Thor Johnson #169 and Rory Donaldson #118 kept the pace alive. Rovers sand dragon claimed 2 DNFs from Lucas Venter #121 and one DNF from Bryce Petersen #12 as well as Danyll Brunette #73 and Sean Swart #23. Mathew Correia #200 and Tyler Petersen #15 battled a bit with the sand but still kept it strong.
MX3 was no lack of hard bar bashing with Anthony Raynard #23 literally riding the wave. Raynard’s skill and fitness was put to the test with Royce Griffin #141 shaving Raynard’s back tyre. Griffin and Raynard put on a spectacular show of ability but it was Raynard who ultimately took the top step in all 4 heats. Griffin took the well-deserved 2nd place across all four heats. Levy Doherty #99 shared 2nd places across the 4 heats with Craig Kruger #29 pushing the limits on all levels in MX3. Doherty pulled two 3rd places and Kruger clinched two 3rd places. There was action in play with Sheldon Watkins #757, Jonathan du Plooy #15 and Morne Janse van Rensburg #144 battling it out in the ranks.
MX 2 was a minefield of action happening every second of the race. Cameron Durow #1 in true champion style took all four wins but it was under pressure from Michael Docherty #129 on day one. Dalton Venter #151, Stav Orland #265 and Mark Carty #24, Davin Cocker #87 and Jayden Proctor #81 shared the steps of the Red Bull podium over the weekend. Docherty and Orland were determined not to make it easy and fought from the gate drop until the checkered flag.
MX 1 is what the crowd comes to see with the big boys pulling out all the stops. Fear is not in their vocab and every rider wants that win with passion. Cameron Durow #58, riding two classes, carved his name in the sand with 3 wins and a 3rd due to mechanical issues in the last heat. Michael Docherty #129 took one 2nd place and Dirco van der Westhuizen #100 snapped that remaining 1st place and one 2nd place finishes. Jesse Wright was right up there with a consistent ride the entire weekend bagging two 2nd places and two 3rd places.
MX Ladies saw Leah Heygate #176 rise to the occasion and gelling in the sandpit as she simply eased her way to four wins and Kayla Raaff #1 held on tight to a consistent four 2nd places. Cheyenne de Lima #484 was also very consistent with 4 3rd places and Jadene de Lima #77 took 3 4th places and an unfortunate DNF.
Rover MX is one of the favourite MSA MX tracks in South Africa and there is no doubt they offered all that was challenging to bring out the top A grade riders in South Africa.
Adrenalin was free of charge as there was no break in action, excitement and pure high energy racing.