Dirco van der Westhuizen scored two thirds and a second to help the South African team win the MX 125 High School class in the FIM Africa Motocross of African Nations continental competition at Syringa Park in Gauteng on September 1.
Riding his Bridgestone and SupaQuick supported Full Throttle Yamaha 125, the 14-year-old Pietermaritzburg grade eight school boy was in good form and finished third overall on a sunny spring day that saw South Africa dominate all but one of the eight classes and win the overall competition with 622 points to the 354 of Zimbabwe and the 353 of Zambia.
The MX 125 High School class was contested by 17 riders – 11 from SA, three from Zimbabwe, two from Kenya and one from Botswana – with the SA contingent made up of a four-man official team and seven independent riders. The official team consisted of the top three riders in Motorsport South Africa’s national MX 125 championship – KZN’s Bradley Cox (KTM), Van der Westhuizen and Gauteng’s Jason Visser (KTM) – and Charl van Eden, also from Gauteng.
Nicholas Adams, riding as an independent and back in the country after competing for a few seasons overseas, won all three heats on a KTM. Cox, who has also been campaigning overseas this year, was second in heats one and two ahead of Van der Westhuizen, who turned the tables on his arch rival in heat three with a brilliant pass two laps from the end to take a hard-earned second place.
Van der Westhuizen, MX 65 national champion in 2009, admitted to being a bit over-awed by the 16-year-old Adams, who was national MX 85 champion in 2009. “I realised what I was up against when I was four seconds slower in practice than Nicholas, but only half a second behind Bradley,” said Van der Westhuizen. Cox was MX 85 national champion in 2010 and Pro Mini champion in 2012.
“My first two starts were OK. I struggled to get into a good rhythm in heat one, but was on their pace towards the end and closed on Bradley after a really hard ride. Heat two was better and although I managed to get alongside Bradley on occasion I was unable to make the pass stick.
“In the final heat I made a really bad start and was last out of the gates but somehow managed to get up to fourth by the first corner. Nicholas got the hole shot again and was gone by the time I caught and passed Bradley. Bradley is a much more experienced rider than me and I must admit I’ve been a bit over-awed by him in the past, too. But now that I’ve beaten him for the second time in two race meetings (Van der Westhuizen took the overall MX 125 honours at Syringa in the third round of the national championships in July, beating Cox for the first time), I feel a lot more confident.”