Van der Westhuizen in fast start to new MX season
Pietermaritzburg teenager Dirco van der Westhuizen, who turned 14 in January, has got his first season in the High School motocross class off to a fast start with the runner-up spot in each of the first rounds of the two championships he is contesting in 2013.
The 2011 MX85 champion and runner-up to Cato Ridge’s Bradley Cox, 15, in last year’s Pro Mini class on a Honda CRF150R, Van der Westhuizen is contesting the High School class for riders aged between 14 and 17 on a Full Throttle Yamaha YZ125 supported by Bridgestone and SupaQuick.
Despite a lack of practice time on the brand new Yamaha, Van der Westhuizen has quickly got to grips with the bigger bike and showed impressive pace in the opening round of the Motorsport South Africa national MX championship at Cato Ridge in early February.
He took two second place finishes behind the older and more experienced Cox – “It seems Bradley and I are fated to be rivals as we climb the motocross ladder” – and followed this up with another second place overall behind Cox in round one of the World of Motorsport South Africa (WOMZA) in Krugersdorp at the end of February. The two youngsters were in a class of their own in their age group last season and it already looks like this will again be the case in 2013.
“I was offered rides on three different bikes in the 125 High School class for this season and opted for the Full Throttle Yamaha deal because it is a long-term sponsorship with an eye on the MX2 and MX1 senior classes,” explained Van der Westhuizen.
“I have just started my first year in high school (grade 8) and my father and I decided it was better to step up to the 125 class now rather than spend another year in Pro Mini. I intend to work hard on my fitness and strength to make up for being one of the youngest in the class and will be aiming to be a title contender in 2014. In the meantime, I still have a lot to learn and will judge my progress against the top riders like Bradley.
“The WOMZA round at the Dirt Bronco track near Krugersdorp was my first real test this year, with a strong entry and Bradley again the rider to beat. The heat was exhausting and took its toll on all the riders, but I managed to match Bradley’s pace for most of the day before tiring in the third and final race.
“I’ve been practicing my starts to improve my chances of taking the all-important ‘hole shot’ – being at the sharp end of the field through the first corner is critical to a good race result – and I was pleased to claim the hole shot in the last race. Unfortunately I was unable to hang on to the lead and Bradley passed me to win the race.”
Father Dirk commented, “We’re happy with Dirco’s results so far. He’s only been riding the bigger bike for a few weeks and has already shown he can run the same lap times as the older and more experienced riders, some of whom are two and three years older than Dirco.”
Van der Westhuizen’s next outing is the second round of the WOMZA championship at Melkbos near Cape Town on March 30 and 31.