Pietermaritzburg teenager Dirco van der Westhuizen has had to put his national championship motocross aspirations on hold following a serious knee injury. And ironically, it was not in the heat of battle with his rivals in the hotly-contested 125 cc High School class in which he competes that he suffered the setback. He was fooling around with a skateboard at home a couple of weeks after taking the lead in his class in the Motorsport South Africa national motocross championship following round two at Zone 7 in Cape Town in April.
The talented 15-year-old Voortrekker High School grade nine student had already made a fast start to the new season – his second in the high-profile class for riders aged between 14 and 17 – claiming a second and a third in the day’s two races and finishing second overall in his class in the opening round of the championship at Terra Topia in Gauteng in February. Riding a Full Throttle/Bridgestone Yamaha YZ125 with additional support from Monster Energy and Fox, he followed this up with a win and a second place in Cape Town.
He was also lying third in the 125 High School class after the first two rounds of the WOMZA national series in Port Elizabeth in March and at Melkbosstrand near Cape Town bin April.
He snapped his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which is the main ligament that connects the femur and tibia bones at the knee. He underwent surgery in early May when a ligament was removed from his hamstring to replace the ACL. It appears that it was in fact an old injury and Van der Westhuizen ascribes it to a bad crash he had in 2009 while riding a 65cc KTM. His knee was badly swollen for about two weeks but he experienced no pain.
He now faces a long period of rehabilitation – he is unlikely to be back in action for several months – and is working hard with his physiotherapist to get back into shape and recover muscle strength. He is spending a lot of time in the gym. He was a welcome and popular visitor on his crutches at the third round of the MSA championship at Springfield Park in Durban last weekend. “I wanted to show support for my team. The first two weeks after the operation was the hardest. The first job was to get the swelling down. Now we’re into a full routine and I’m very committed to recovering fully as soon as possible.
“It is really unfortunate I won’t be able to complete the season as we were not even halfway and all of the races that are left are on hard packed tracks which I really like and perform well on.”
He was a strong contender for the national High School class title this year, but fortunately is still young enough to compete in this class for two more years. He is a fiercely dedicated rider and there’s no doubt he will come back stronger and more motivated next year.