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National Cross Country Championship – Round 1 – KZN

The Brother Leader Tread KTM Team faced a tough challenge this past weekend at the gruelling Rocky Bay season opener in KwaZulu-Natal. Scorching temperatures, oppressive humidity, and blinding dust pushed riders and machines to their limits.
Brad Cox, sporting the coveted #1 plate for the season in the Open Class. While a crash forced him to withdraw after a few laps, fortunately, the only damage was bruising on the chest, diaphragm muscles, and ribs. Despite this setback, Cox still managed to score valuable points, finishing 12th in the Open Class.

“Not the start I wanted,” said Cox. “The heat, humidity, and dust were brutal, and a crash unfortunately ended my day early. The bike had to be rebuilt but unfortunately, the crash made me feel worse as I kept on racing and decided to stop. On the positive side, I only have some bumps and bruises, and I was able to salvage some points. I’ll be back stronger for the next race.”

Kerim Fitz-Gerald, fresh off his 2023 Seniors Championship win and a challenging Dakar Rally appearance where he sustained a wrist injury, demonstrated his toughness by completing a lap in the Seniors Class, enough to secure a sixth-place finish.

“Competing with a wrist injury wasn’t ideal and definitely not how I wanted to race,” said Fitz-Gerald. “But finishing the race is a credit to the team and my will to push through. I’m focusing on recovery and I’ll be ready to fight for the Seniors title and points again soon.”

Matthew Wilson, the defending OR3 Champion, faced a couple of difficulties and battled through the dust, ultimately finishing fourth in his class also managed to bag some valuable points for the season.

“It was a real tough one for me, my time trial started off well but got held up in dust and came in 10th overall for the start of the main race,” commented Wilson.

He went on to say “Getting stuck in the dust early on in the race made it very difficult for me to catch and pass riders on a rough track. Despite the difficulties, I managed to get some valuable points, and I’m already looking forward to redemption in the next round.

Scott Heygate, fuelled by a thirst for redemption in the 2024 season, secured a podium finish on his rip-roaring 450 XC-F for the season with a hard-fought third place.

“A frustrating day in the dust riddled with mistakes on my end. Nevertheless, I am glad to have walked away with good points in the bag and i will build on this going forward”, he stated

Heygate continued to say, “Racing conditions were extremely demanding due to the heat which made hydration critical all day. Track conditions weren’t favourable but happy to have walked away healthy.”

“We’re proud of the team’s fighting spirit at Rocky Bay,” said Group Marketing Coordinator, Megan Prinsloo. “The conditions were harsh, but our riders showed their determination. We learned valuable lessons this weekend, and we know the Brother Leader Tread KTM Team will be back in top form for the next race.”

Published by: Grant Frerichs – KTM Motorcycles

Photography by: Sage Lee Voges – ZCMC Media

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