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Never too old for motocross

Motocross (MX) is not a sport for the faint-hearted.

These racers not only race against each other on two wheels, but have to face tight bends, ramps and often meet Mother Earth the hard way.

Safety gear must be worn at all times.

This includes safety helmets, goggles, protective clothing, riders’ gloves and supportive boots.

Tony Viljoen (46), one of the oldest motocross racers in Namibia, spoke to Top Revs during this past weekend’s fifth leg of the National MX championships about his passion for the sport.

He is known as ‘Weekend Warrior’ among fellow riders and friends, and says he does MX to get away from the stress being a businessman causes.

But you need to be ‘bike fit’ and prepared for races, as MX drains your energy, he said.

Though he doesn’t practise much due to other commitments, Viljoen said the more you practise, the better and safer the sport becomes.

“I have to balance my training time as it can become a bit dangerous. Anything can happen, and I cannot manage my business from a hospital bed on my back,” he said.

Fitness is important in this sport as you can get tired, which can be dangerous, he said.

Viljoen said he rode a 350KTM 4-stroke, as his previous 450 KTM became too heavy on the tracks, and he had to opt for a lighter bike.

But as technology has got more advanced, bikes became lighter and performance improved, he said.

When asked about fellow competitors, as some are much younger than him, Viljoen said he is happy to see them grow and getting better.

“Some youngsters are giving me a run for my money,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dakar rally and MX legend Ingo Waldschmidt said the only drawback of this event was the fewer-than-expected number of entries.

“For this event, we had 35 entries – unlike with previous events where we had more than 40 entries – sometimes going for 50,” he said.

The low number of entries and spectators put a damper on the event as the MX club had to incur expenses to host the event, he said.
This includes preparing the tracks and paying marshals and medics for services rendered.

Though MX is a family sport, it is also a spectator-friendly sport as the whole track can be observed from behind safety fences.
The competition between the classes were outstanding, Waldschmidt said.

He said the competition was stiff in the 50cc class races, highlighting the performance and competition between Oliver Mathews and Carter Bouwer.

Bouwer is improving and getting faster with every race, Waldschmidt said, but Mathews crossed the line in first place.

A full house entered the 125cc class, with the first five riders giving their fellow competitors a good workout for podium finish.

In the end it was Gero Friederich who took the chequered flag.

Mark Sternhagel, the winner of the open class, was once again a crowd puller as his performance was outstanding, Waldschmidt said.

Sternhagel will lead a Namibian MX team to the All Nations Championships in Cape Town.

Namibia will send a team of 20 riders to the event, which will take place in August.

Sternhagel’s leadership and the time and effort he puts into the sport and preparations are commendable, Waldschmidt said.

The results are as follows:
50cc junior: Mason Meyer, followed by Mike Botha
50cc senior: Mathews, followed by Bouwer, and Markus Pack in third place
65cc: Patrick Geiger in first place, Connor Bouwer second, and Duhan van Wyk third
85cc: Juan de Vos, followed by Marco Lindemeier and Leander Metzger
Open Class: Sternhagel, followed by his brother, Use Thorsten, in second place, and Viljoen third
125cc Junior: Gero Friederic, Bjorn Kebbel and Jarno Metzger
Women’s MX: Ronja Friederich, followed by Make Bochert
Veteran class: Sigi Pack, Heiko Stranghoner and Olaf Pack
Clubmans: JF van Eeden, followed by Lourens du Plessis
King of the Dirt: Sternhagel, followed by Thorsten and Sigi Pack