A cold day greeted riders and spectators alike when they headed to Thunder Valley in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, for round five of the South African National Motocross Championship. The morning’s cold however quickly turned into a hot, late winter’s day at the track. As the temperatures rose so was the excitement; it was an important round, laying the groundwork to tie up championships later in the season.
Going into the race the pressure was on Red Bull KTM’s Kerim Fitz-Gerald – his eyes set on taking over the lead in both the highly competitive MX1 and MX2 championships going into the race. Only a few points separated him from his rivals.
Feeling comfortable on his MX2 weapon of choice, his KTM 250 SX-F Factory Edition, Fitz-Gerald had a great start and took the holeshot in both heats where the experienced rider showcased his talent with two impressive start-to-finish wins. Fitz-Gerald has now taken the lead in the MX2 championship, handing him the much sought after red plate going into the next round.
His teammate Joshua Mlimi didn’t get a great start in the MX2 first heat and had to work his way up. By the time he started catching up, some of the other riders had managed to pull away from him already, resulting in Mlimi finishing the first heat in sixth place. Heat two saw Mlimi charging again and he ended the day with a 6-6 finish for sixth place overall on the day.
Kerim Fitz-Gerald was ready to replicate his performance in the MX1 class and did not disappoint during the first heat. He yet again took the holeshot and took the win. During the second heat, however, Fitz-Gerald hit the start-gate and only got away with fifth place coming around turn one, a position that he had to settle for. This resulted in a 1-5 finish for him on the day and second place overall. Fitz-Gerald is still lying second in the MX1 championship and has his mind set on bringing home both MX1 and MX2 titles this year.
In the Junior classes all riders came to Thunder Valley well prepared and Red Bull KTM’s Camden McLellan was ready to continue his championship battle in the 85cc Pro Mini class with KTM’s Cameron Durow. Durow unfortunately injured himself during the morning’s qualifying session and was out of the day’s action. Though one of the smaller riders in this class, McLellan showed big temperament and did not disappoint when he challenged his rivals, bringing home double victory at Thunder Valley onboard his KTM 85 SX. McLellan is now leading the 85cc Pro Mini championship.
Despite an injury earlier in the season, youngster Jonathan Mlimi had taken the lead in the 85cc Junior class and the pressure was on heading to Pietermaritzburg, continuing the battle for the championship lead. With a crash on the first lap of the day however, Mlimi lost valuable time to his team mate Nate McLellan who walked away with his first ever heat win at Pietermaritzburg. Mlimi knew he would have to work harder during heat two, and so he did, finishing the day with a 2-1 finish for first place overall. Mlimi is still leading the 85cc Junior championship with Nate McLellan finishing the day in fifth place overall.
The penultimate round of the South African National Motocross championship is scheduled for 17 September at Harrismith (Free State) before competitors head to the final showdown of the season at Terra Topia (Gauteng) on 8 October.