Tyla Rattray knows what pressure is. He has been involved in a good number of nail-biting championship battles in his life, and in 2010 he came very close to clinching the AMA motocross title after a bizarre final round that would have been too strange for fiction. Leading up to the penultimate round of the 2011 series at Steel City, he was still in with a mathematical chance of securing the title, but a DNF at Unadilla set him on the back foot, and it would only be the most amazing confluence of circumstances that would allow him to bring the title home, especially since teammate Dean Wilson was regular as Swiss clockwork and riding on a wave on confidence.
Nevertheless, Tyla vowed to take it race by race after the Unadilla setback, and at Southwick he came out of his corner swinging, romping to overall victory with consummate ease. The title chase was still alive, but only just. It was under these circumstances that the South African pitched his tent at a sun-drenched Steel City, hoping to close the points gap on Wilson. He only managed the sixth fastest qualifying time during the early formalities, but those that know him, harbour no doubt that his strength lies in racing more so than in qualifying, so this in itself did not give cause for alarm.
Wilson could smell a championship already and surged to the lead in race one, whiles Tyla had to claw back form a position just inside the top 10 . Now rider circulating in the top 10 in an AMA championship event aren’t exactly the proverbial grannies looking for parking, and passing them is not all that easy. Yet Tyla elbowed and schemed and skilled his way through the ranks, and crossed the line in fourth position on his Pro Circuit Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Race two was a virtual carbon copy of the first – in fact , looking at the first four places in the results sheets, the race had every indication of having been recreated with a very reliable photocopier. Again Wilson shot out in front into clear air, and again Tyla had to grit his way forward. The points differential at the end made the season’s overall result a fait accompli – the points difference was now too much to overhaul even if the earth were to shift off its axis, and Dean Wilson was toasted as the 2011 AMA motocross champion. With one round still to go, Tyla has a firm grip on second position in the standings, and will concentrate on securing the runner-up spot for the second season running.
As is always the case, Tyla is ultra-competitive on the track but gracious off it. “I needed a win here today to keep the championship alive, but unfortunately it didn’t pan out that way,” he remarked. “Congratulations to Dean – he was consistent all season and that’ what you need to get the titles. I’m happy for Mitch and the team for yet another Pro Circuit Kawasaki title.”
Tyla will go all out in defence of his second place at the season finale at Pala Raceway,and then he will uncoil his South African flag as he defends national honours at the Motocross of Nations.
Images by Hoppenworld.com