NHLAPO CONFIRMS HIS WORLD-CLASS TALENT
By Bardy the Action Scribe
South African star Sifiso Nhlapo confirmed his world-class talent in front of his home fans when he claimed the overall win at the MTN BMX Grand Nationals against a strong American challenge in Kempton Park at the weekend.
The 20-year-old MTN rider was in sublime form, winning 14 out of his 15 races on a weekend of fast-paced action that attracted all of the country’s leading riders at the season’s showpiece event that incorporated Rounds 7 and 8 of the 2007 Nationals.
On Saturday there were two rounds of racing with the last round on Sunday. In the first final on Saturday, Nhlapo grabbed the holeshot and forced Randy Stumpfhauser and Joey Bradford, the visiting Americans, to find a way around him if they wanted the top step of the podium. Bradford pulled a brilliant move on the penultimate berm to take the lead but Nhlapo duplicated the move on the final bend to retake the lead and secure the victory. Stumpfhauser finished third.
In the second final, Nhlapo produced his customary snappy start to take the lead at the first jump. This time he was super-smooth throughout, maintaining his slight advantage over his rivals from start to finish. This time Stumpfhauser was second and Bradford third.
Stumpfhauser and Bradford both race for the GT Hyundai professional team in the United States and are multiple former world champions. Stumpfhauser, 30, is currently ranked eighth in the world and finished third in the 2007 world championships held in July. Bradford, 17, was second in the junior category at the recent world championships.
On Sunday, Nhlapo, Bradford and Stumpfhauser were all drawn in different start groups. All three claimed comfortable wins in their three respective motos, giving them automatic qualification into the semi-finals. They then all cruised through to the final.
In the final, Nhlapo, racing out of the favoured Gate No. 1, exploded from the start to gain a narrow advantage going into the first turn. He maintained his lead until the penultimate turn, a hairpin right-hander where Bradford edged inside him to snatch the lead. Fighting back, Nhlapo hit the final turn tight after Bradford had taken it wide. The move put Nhlapo in a position to retake the lead as they faced the finishing straight, but Bradford was just too quick and took the win, ending Nhlapo’s impressive weekend winning streak in the very final event.
Other South Africans that featured in the world-class Elite finals were Gavin Lubbe, who got fourth in both finals on Saturday and Dean Holdstock (Fox Racing), who was fourth in Sunday’s final.
The final standings for the weekend’s racing in the Elite men saw Nhlapo secure top spot followed by Bradford with Stumpfhauser and Lubbe third and fourth respectively.