MX riders defy wind on the tracks

Strong windy conditions along the west coast over the weekend may have delayed the Moto-Cross start but did not dampen the racing spirit at the Swakopmund MX tracks.

The fourth leg of the Namibia Motorsport Federation National Championships saw at least 58 entries in the various classes, ranging from 50cc to veterans on much bigger and more powerful machines.

In a recent telephonic interview, clerk of the course Johané Engels du Plessis said it was the most difficult MX event she has ever officiated, due to the weather conditions.

“We had to practice under the yellow flag rule, that is not the ideal condition. The rules stipulate that if a rider does not practice, that rider may not take part in heat one,” said Engels du Plessis.

“We collectively decided if we do not practice, the whole event had to be cancelled. The riders opted to practice under the yellow flag rule. The yellow flag rule simply means no jumps are allowed and no overtaking is permitted. This rule makes it difficult for riders to practice to the fullest.”

After the practice, the programme had to be amended to start at 14h00.

The 2024 season also had to be amended several times due to unforeseen circumstances, such as water issues at Omaruru and Gobabis which forced the organisers to look for alternative venues to host the championships.

“After deciding to continue the event despite the strong winds, we decided to let the bigger MX bikes and more experienced riders start to see the effect of the wind.”

Engels du Plessis said the more senior riders had the knowledge and experience to ride in unfavourable conditions, unlike the youngsters who wanted to go full out, regardless of the potential hazards.

Despite the strong winds, visibility was clear and Engels du Plessis applauded the young riders for their performance in difficult riding conditions.

There were also no incidents reported, she said.

Winner of the Open and King of the Dirt (KOTD) class Mark Sternagel said he had observed earlier in the week that weather conditions would be hot with strong east winds but he did not expect them to be as harsh.

He commended the race committee for pulling off an amazing event and handling the situation well.

“All the riders had to face the same challenges, which separated the better riders from the rest,” said Sternagel.

Though the wind could be a danger, it teaches you balancing and control during the race, he added.

Senior rider Tertuis Joubert, who finished in third place in the open class, said in such race conditions, riders need to take various things into consideration on the tracks.

“When you do a jump and you have a tail wind, you normally take it in third gear. With flat box, you still maintain third gear but half or quarter throttle and sometimes it still feels like you are riding too fast.”

Joubert said once you are airborne, it feels like the wind is pushing you over the jump.

Sidewinds are not a good as that might blow a rider off balance, resulting in possible falls. Any rider must make continuous calculations to counter the wind and other elements when on the tracks, Joubert added.

The next MX event is scheduled for 13 July and then again in August at the Gallina Race Track outside Windhoek.

The results are as follows:

50cc Juniors: First: Carter Bouwer, second: Delmar du Plessis, third: Mason Meyer.

65cc: First: De Wet du Plessis, second: Oliver Mathews, third: Doha Steenkamp.

85cc: First: Khan Kotze, second: Connor Bouwer, third: Christopher Still.

Women’s class (WMX): First: Zoe Waldschmidt, second: Maronique Kruger, third: Ronja Friederich.

Vets: First: Martin Kruger, second: Sigi Pack, third: Gerhard Simon (Jr).

125cc Juniors: First: Juan de Vos, second: Marno Kruger, third: Gero Friederich.

Open Class: First: Sternagel, second: Rico Wolf, third: Joubert.

Clubmans: First: Thump Martins, second: Killian Hamm, third: Sunene (Sunny) Wittreich.

125cc Seniors: First: Dale Davies (Only rider).

KOTD: First: Sternagel, second: De Vos, third: Marno Kruger.

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