Motocross

Teak Tough Tyler!

Teak Tough Tyler!

Frank Hoppen

A candidate for the best press release of the year, Tinus Nel reports on Styla’s AMA win in Texas. Enjoy…

Tyla Rattray is a special breed of motocrosser. Often in his career he has not been the fastest or most talented or most naturally gifted rider in a particular line-up, yet he has carved himself a reputation for coming up with the goods despite the fact that the dice may not always be loaded in his favour.

He can credit this to a dogged determination, a never-say-die attitude, his habit of turning weak points into strengths, a work ethic that could have seen him in the running as Mayor of Sparta and to top it all off, good old-fashioned fire-in-the-belly guts. Now gather round and listen up – if race conditions are tough, say for example with a track that resembles a bombing range and weather that has the desert lizards scurrying for cover, you could do worse than backing the South African with a few dollars.

Round two of the AMA Nationals went down at Freestone Raceway in Texas and had all the ingredients to prove our point. When the Lone Star State does something it goes large and the heat and humidity that struck the riders in the face as soon as they left the comfort of their race trucks was on a Texas level. It was clear from the first practice that the riders’ powers of endurance would be wrung out to the max on the day.

Tyla is as businesslike as they come when it comes to race day duties and he slotted in the seventh fastest time in qualifying. This may not have seemed a good harbinger of things to come but by now everyone knows that the Rattray afterburners kick in all the harder the longer the day progresses.

Tyla slipped his Pro Circuit Kawasaki into fourth spot as race one got going. The pace up front was fierce but nonetheless he gained one spot in the third round when team-mate Blake Baggett moulded himself to the scenery. By lap five it was an all-green affair up front again as Tyla moved into second spot behind team-mate Dean Wilson. The Scottish-born youngster had a good rhythm going and Tyla trailed him home by eight seconds to claim second spot.

The conditions were truly torrid by the time race two rolled along. In the USA the 250cc bikes go last and by then the track had had a good working over. Tyla managed to skirt all the usual first corner fun and mayhem and charged into proceedings in fifth place. By lap five he was in third position and homing in on local hero Kyle Cunningham. A few laps later he moved into second spot and had the virtual overall win for the day in hand. Behind him though, Wilson was also carving through the field and was making a bold throw for third position. If that happened Tyla would lose the overall victory unless he could move to the front and win the race.

Justin Barcia was at one stage enjoying close to a nine-second lead but the Rattattack was on the way. A leading rider enjoys a charging Rattray behind him about as much as a burglar enjoys coming across a Rottweiler crossed with a crocodile and Tyla was proving this again on the day. Where the others flagged, he surged, where they wallowed, he danced. He made visible inroads into Barcia’s lead and with a few laps to go the result was a foregone conclusion. When the attack came Barcia did not put up any resistance and for the last three laps Tyla created open air between him and the pack behind.

With a second and first in the heats there was only one possible outcome for the overall result and Tyla beamed as he stepped up to accept the winner’s champagne. He has moved into second position in the championship points standings, five points behind team-mate Wilson and this promises a season-long battle between the Kawasaki-mounted riders.

There was no doubting the quiet satisfaction in his voice as he reflected on his race day. “The whole race day actually went pretty well,” he stated matter-of-factly. “I felt strong and my good preparations seems to have paid off. I knew I had to push for the win in the last race to get the overall and I felt I had Justin when I saw I was catching him a few seconds a lap late in the race. I am happy with the result and that we can keep Mitch’s bikes at the front.”