South African motocross racer, Gareth Swanepoel, has won his first career AMA Motocross Lites moto and launched his DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha to its first overall podium finish at the 10th round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross series held in Southwick Massachusetts.
In his rookie season of AMA Pro Racing, Swanepoel has battled adversity to recover from a broken neck sustained earlier in the season at his debut SX appearance, to now winning his first MX Lites moto on a sandy and treacherous Southwick circuit.
Swanepoel set 3rd quickest time in the morning qualification practice, his best to date, and lined up for moto 1 determined to make the most of his gate pick. Grabbing his second hole-shot of the season, ‘Swanie’ pulled out to an early lead with fellow South African, Tyla Rattray and series leader Dean Wilson giving chase.
Five laps into the race Swanepoel lost the use of his rear brake which allowed Rattray to pass but he quickly adapted his riding style and managed to close down Rattray again when his compatriot stalled his machine allowing Swanepoel to recapture the lead. With Wilson joining the trio, Swanepoel put his head down and rode a faultless race to pull a gap on his two challengers to take the victory and become the first rider in 2011 to break the mighty Pro Circuit Kawasaki winning streak.
With track conditions deteriorating due to heavy rainfall the second moto would be a case of survival. Swanepoel did not get the best of starts and rounded the first lap in 5th. He went down two laps later but quickly recovered and fought his way back to 5th, claiming 3rd overall for the day.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win my first Moto in America and gain my first AMA overall podium,” smiled Swanepoel. “I knew if I could get a good start I could run up front – my speed has been improving every week and my confidence has been growing. I burnt out my rear brake early in the moto and had to adapt to the conditions. As soon as I regained the lead I thought to myself ‘You can do this’ and gave everything I had. What an awesome feeling! I could not have done it without the great support of my DNA Shredstix/Yamaha star racing crew. They have been awesome to ride for and this is a result of the hard work we put in. My Dad was also here today to watch – he flew out from South Africa especially for this race. My girlfriend and my Mom and the rest of the family watched the race on the web. They have supported my racing career and sacrificed a lot so this victory is for them.”
With two rounds remaining, Swanepoel occupies 6th in the championship standings and has closed to within 4 points of 5th placed, Eli Tomac. The penultimate round of the 12 round series will take place at the Steel City Raceway, located just outside of Pittsburgh in Delmont, Pennsylvania on the 3rd of September.
250 Class (Moto Finish)
Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki (2-1)
Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki (3-2)
Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha (1-5)
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (10-3)
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (9-6)
Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (7-8)
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki (5-12)
Gannon Audette, Minneapolis, Minn., Yamaha (4-16)
Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (18-4)
Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Honda (8-13)
250 Class Championship Standings
Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki – 438
Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki – 400
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki – 398
Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha – 264
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda – 246
Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha – 241
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki – 220
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda – 181
Martin Davalos, Quito, Ecuador, Suzuki – 175
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 170