Bridgestone South Africa

Dirco impressive in US motorcross

Dec 03, 2012
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Pietermaritzburg teenager Dirco van der Westhuizen overcame a heavy bout of "˜flu to give a good account of himself in the 41st annual motocross "Winter Olympics" held in Florida USA at the end of November.

The Mini O"™s, as the competition is known, attracted a total of nearly 3000 amateur riders from all over the world competing in 28 classes, from 50 cc stock (for riders aged between 4 and eight) to Open Modified for adults. The first three days of race week were devoted to Supercross and the last three days to Motocross.

Van der Westhuizen, 13, was the sole South African and rode his own privately-entered Honda CRF150R in three different classes - Supermini 1 (riders aged 12 to 15), Supermini 2 (riders aged 13 to 16) and Senior Mini (riders aged 12 to 15).

"My results in the first couple of days of the Supercross were not so good as I was riding with a fever and was under strong medication," said the 2011 SA MX85 motocross champion who finished second in the 2012 SA Pro Mini motocross championship on a Portable Shade/Bridgestone/SupaQuick Honda CRF150R. "It also took a while to get used to the layout of the Supercross circuit, which had big jumps and short run-ups and was very different to our circuits back home," said Van der Westhuizen.

Despite being unwell, he was 10th among 32 out of 80 riders to qualify for the Supermini 2 final and also qualified for the Senior Mini final in 10th place. He struggled to 20th place in the Supermini 2 final. By the time he lined up for the start of the Senior Mini final on Wednesday morning, he was feeling stronger and went on to finish a creditable seventh in a closely-matched field where the lap times of the top seven riders were much the same.

"By mid-week I was feeling a lot better and was getting the hang of the Supercross jumps and their short approaches," said Van der Westhuizen.

There were a lot more riders - 105 - contesting the Motocross events in the second half of race week. Van der Westhuizen qualified 12th in the Supermini 1 class and sixth in Supermini 2. He had his best heat result of the whole week in the Senior Mini class to finish fourth.

He had a good start in the Supermini 1 final and was fifth into the first corner. A rider then fell in front of him in the fearsome Gator Pit (a 20-metre wide sheer drop-off) and he went down after hitting the fallen bike. He was left with a broken helmet and bike and was lucky to walk away with only bruised ribs.

In the Supermini 2 final, still shaken from the crash an hour before, he decided to take it easy and regain his confidence for the Senior Mini final 30 minutes later. He finished 20th.

He lost his balance at the start of the Senior Mini final and was 13th into the first corner. In his best ride of the week, he hauled himself up through the very competitive field to finish a well-deserved seventh.

"The racing was a great experience and learning curve for me," said Van der Westhuizen. "I must thank Fox USA, who provided me with some new kit. We made some good friends and established valuable contacts for future visits to the States."

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