No great discoveries have ever been made by ships tied up in the harbour. To explore your horizons, you have to up anchor and strike out. This metaphor is perfectly applicable to Christian Berrington-Smith as he seeks to advance his motocross racing career. By now established as a definite top five rider in the South African 85cc Pro Motocross firmament, his ambitions do not end there. He wants to move closer to the top, mixing it with the class leaders, and also elbow his way towards international-level participation.
One does not achieve these ambitions by sitting at home, computer gaming. You have to seek out your opposition, meeting the challenge head-on. And so it came to pass that Christian and dad Wayne hitched up the trailer and trundled off to Bloemfontein for the pre-national event. With a national championship event at the same venue in two weeks’ time, this provided an ideal opportunity for scoping out the track and the opposition. Two of the four riders ahead of Christian in the national championship standings had also made the trip, those being championship leader Trey Cox and good buddy Jake van Schoor, who has most certainly established himself as the surprise package of the 85cc Pro Minicross class.
Christian served early notice of intent, qualifying second behind Cox. Notably, his lap time was much closer to Cox than had been the case at the previous national championship event. A less-than-optimal start (copy/paste phrase, but being worked on) slotted Christian in fourth place behind Cox, van Schoor and Alon Orland. Cox had the luxury of open air ahead of him, and cleared off into the hazy distance. Christian hounded Van Schoor and Orland, lurking with intent, waiting for his opportunity. He rode a wonderfully measured and calculated race, and in the last lap pulled out the scimitar. He got the better of Orland with a beautiful maneuvre over the scary Seventh Heaven jump, where he scrubbed and got to ground quicker. He closed the gap on Van Schoor, and made a clean block pass on the inside to secure second place. Notably, he posted his fastest lap time in the last lap, whilst on the hunt and making passes.
Christian properly duffed the start in race two, rounding the first corner in fourth last position. He made quick work of getting forward, and soon found himself in fourth position again behind Cox, Van Schoor and long-time friend Damien Venter. He kept the pressure on the boil, and again bided his time before passing Venter and then van Schoor to claim second spot again. He earned himself a podium call-up for second overall, but, more importantly, drew the confidence of having made significant strides towards closing the speed difference with the national championship leader.
This event was the first of a triple play of racing outings for Christian. He will travel to Sasolburg next weekend in defense of his Northern Regions championship lead, and then it’s off to the Bloemfontein again for the third round of the national championship series.
Published by: Tinus Nel
Photography by: Wiki Pix