Northern Region Motocross or NRMX as it has come to be known, hosted its third round of motocross action at the notoriously difficult Sandtrax track in Sasolburg. With over 100 eager pilots all wanting to prove their skills in the sand, we couldn’t have asked for a better day out. Crisp cool conditions for morning practice saw a well-prepped track take a beating over the course of the day, making each heat a challenging new experience to deal with for our young and older riders alike.
Endurance was the call of the day and each rider was going to be pushed to their physical limits, where just crossing the finish line in itself was a feat to be celebrated.
A few standout rides on the day gave the spectators some jaw-dropping action. Tristan Purdon is racing for Northern Regions now and you can definitely expect him to climb the championship ladder with an outstanding ride in both MX 1 and MX 2 gate taking 1 – 1 in both classes.
It was great to see Kerim Fitz-Gerald fighting it out again in the MX 1 gate, no doubt it was in preparation for his upcoming National Cross-Country battle later this month. Another return saw Joshua Mlimi, with his incredible starts, managing to gap the rest of the pack by some margin in both his heats, an eye-opener for sure to the rest of the pack especially when he gets his fitness back up to scratch.
Our ever-increasing standalone ladies gate saw Kayla Raaff take the top step, in conjunction with NRMX channelling all our prizes towards the ladies gate in support, we look forward to a growing the number of ladies in the future. Our very own committee member Bianca Prout-Jones had a nasty crash in heat one leaving her out of contention for the rest of the day, speedy recovery Bianca!
Our juniors had some impressive rides across all the gates. In 2021 our 65cc gate only had four riders at the same track, while this year we celebrate 17 pilots all testing their might in the thick sand. Trenton Kretzmann from KZN showed his class with a double win in both heats on the 65cc gate while local riders Trent Valsecchi and Daniel Brindley were hot on his heals, an unfortunate crash by Daniel made way for Cruz Martin to take the final podium place.
In the 85cc gate, Damian Venter revved into action leading most of both his heats until an unfortunate crash on a tabletop. Damian’s bow out made way for Christian Berrington-Smith in first with Christopher Brindley and Alex Cooper in second and third respectfully.
The MX High School class was jam-packed with action and Barend du Toit did not disappoint with an impressive performance to take the win, Lucas Venter with a strong second performance while third place was a close battle between Joshua Williams, Timo Maximo Toepfer, Thor Johnson, and Garrick Henley to see who would take the final podium position, with Joshua finally edging it out in the end.
The 50cc gate always brings something special to the sport, the sheer passion and determination of these little guys and girls is something to behold! Pound for pound these little ones can definitely give the bigger guys a run for their money. The clear leader of this pack was the young Rayden Woolls, although he didn’t have it all his own way, with two poor starts he had to fight his way through the field to eventually take the win in both heats. Rhys Carl Wentzel and Parker Cik rounded out the second and third positions respectfully for the 50cc gate. With this being the fastest track of the season for these little guys they all had their machines pinned to the max. The sport is in good hands with the level of talent at such a young level, NRMX is certainly paving the way to cultivate future national champions.
When the NRMX Committee took over the reins of regional motocross competition in 2020, motocross was at a low in competitor numbers and events being held. The Covid pandemic exacerbated an already downward trend showing from the 2019 season, we had our hands full with the challenge of trying to positively turn our beautiful sport around. With no 2020 racing, no money and no support we endeavoured to kick off the 2021 racing season. It was with a somewhat surprised blistering pace that the riders supported our endeavour and to date this enthusiasm has yet to dissipate even now in our 2022 season. We have had year-on-year record numbers and seen the race on race increases across the various classes. Our ladies gate went from sharing it with MX3 and support riders to now having its own dedicated class as a standalone event. In 2021 we were privileged to have awarded three of our riders with their MSA Northern Regions Regional Colours. This was a first for the new Committee to be able to award such achievements at our prize giving. This has increased significantly for 2022, where, as it stands each one of our current classes qualifies as a championship class except for our MX 1 class and hopefully we will be able to award even more of our crowned champions with their official MSA recognised Regional Colours.
Our challenge as a committee is to finish the season strong and work with the MX 1 gate to turn that around before the end of the season. We also implemented a non-championship junior support or club class for our 50cc, 65cc, and 85cc classes with the aim in helping develop the junior riders who have either just joined the sport or are looking to develop their skills before moving into the championship classes. These classes give our young riders the experience of racing with the more experienced riders in a fast-paced class while scoring separately, this has seen a mix of battles not only upfront but with a midfield battle now undeniably more visible.
As many of you know, this year we have implemented a team challenge and seeing everyone working together to help their fellow teammates get better has been incredible. This is what this challenge was about. For those who are not aware, separate from our championship points system riders were randomly selected and placed into teams of four with a cross mix of seniors and juniors. The points scored during the championship event on the day would count towards the top three riders in each team scoring in their respective classes giving them a total to add to the team challenge. With the help of our sponsors, Out of Africa and Yamaha, we will award each member of the top team with their very own TTR 110 Yamaha Pit Bike. Yes, that’s ONE for each team member! Currently, we have a total of 21 teams all fighting hard for the overall win.
Another NRMX milestone was the first-ever dedicated e50cc all-electric bike gate in South Africa. A total of eight riders “silently” fought it out to see who would be crowned the e-king on the day. With power settings proving crucial and many being caught out meters from the finish line, it brought a different dynamic to the sport, one of slightly more strategy than just raw talent. Parker Cik (third place in the conventional 50cc race) took top honours in the first ever e50cc class – a busy day for young Parker as he had two practice sessions and four heats to do on the day. Rounding out our second place was Wilco du Plooy and Bjorn Roets in third. The best part of our e-class gate was that excluding the top three riders, all of them were brand new to the sport having never ridden a regional race day before.
A special welcome and mention for our two international riders on the day, Alex Robinson from the USA in the MX 3 class and David Wieshayer-Turra from Austria in our MX High School Class, it was great to have you part of our racing. Another special mention and one that we could not overlook is to our sponsors; thank you for believing in what we are doing and supporting this great sport. Neslo our Trophy sponsor, VLA Racing and RidgeWay, Portable Shade, Nithrone, Paramatic, and Out of Africa. Without you guys it would be very difficult for us to do this.
Regional racing has a long way to go still, however, there is a clear willingness from the committee to embrace the riders and help them grow, and ensure that their preparation for a national competition level gives them a fighting chance. As a group of racers ourselves, some from different facets and various classes, we can quickly assess any pitfalls and possible shortfalls and collectively approach the likes of MSA to address concerns, required change considerations, or problem-solving very often without the riders being any the wiser. This is done in the spirit of bettering the sport for all. Collectively and tirelessly the NRMX Committee is here for you the rider regardless of age or class.
We look forward to hosting you all again at our next round which will be held at Legends MX Park on 16 July 2022.
Published by: Johnathan Meyer, MSA NRMX Committee Chairman
Photography by: Sean Versfeld – Cloud9 Photography SA