Three ti­tles for Red Bull KTM rid­ers

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

THE newly de­signed and re­cently opened Terra Topia MX Track north of Four­ways, Gaut­eng, played host to the fi­nal round of the South African Na­tional Mo­tocross cham­pi­onship, a seven-round sea­son with all seven races to count to­wards the cham­pi­onship.

With most ti­tles still up for grabs, the mo­tocross fra­ter­nity was look­ing for­ward to an epic show­down on what turned out to be a heated day, on and off the track. With more and more tal­ented young­sters com­ing through the ranks, the pres­sure in the 85cc Ju­nior class was on be­tween Red Bull KTM’s Jonathan Mlimi and his team-mate Nate McLel­lan. Both set a strong per­for­mance dur­ing the 2016 sea­son with Mlimi lead­ing the cham­pi­onship go­ing into round seven and McLel­lan 30 points be­hind him in sec­ond place.

Mlimi ended the sea­son off on a high with an im­pres­sive 1-1 fin­ish at Terra Topia, be­ing crowned the 2016 85cc Ju­nior cham­pion ahead of Nate McLel­lan, both rac­ing their trusty KTM 85 SX weapons.

Red Bull KTM’s Cam­den McLel­lan, older brother to Nate and 2016’s 65cc Ju­nior cham­pion, made a big step in 2016, when he went straight from the 65cc Ju­nior class to the com­pet­i­tive Pro Mini class.

Cam­den had se­cured the 85cc Pro Mini ti­tle at the pre­vi­ous round at Har­ri­smith. He fin­ished the sea­son off with a great sec­ond place in heat one and an av­er­age re­sult in heat two where he bat­tled with brake prob­lems at Terra Topia. He had clinched his ti­tle with over­all wins at Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and Har­ri­smith, and now looks for­ward to com­pet­ing in the Mini Os in the U.S. for the first time and next year he plans to de­fend his Pro Mini ti­tle in South Africa.

“Be­sides that, I will be head­ing off to Europe for a few events, so it’s go­ing to be a busy sea­son,” said McLel­lan.

Mlimi, who was crowned 125cc High School cham­pion in 2015, was thrown in the deep end when he moved up into the highly com­pet­i­tive MX2 class, which can be quite in­tim­i­dat­ing. He quickly got to grips chang­ing from two-stroke to four-stroke and fin­ished 2016 in fourth place in the MX2 class.

Look­ing back at his 2016 sea­son, he is proud of win­ning a heat at Har­ri­smith and said he now knows what he needs to im­prove on for next year.

In the pre­mier classes Kerim FitzGer­ald was un­touch­able, af­ter get­ting both ti­tles in the bag early on in the sea­son, he set him­self a goal to win both the MX1 and MX2 cham­pi­onship in the same sea­son and came oh-so-close.

He now heads off to Red Bull Straight Rhythm in the U.S. — WR.

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