15 September 2008
Tyla Rattray became the third South African to win a motocross world title when he clinched the MX2 category championship at the Italian Grand Prix in Faenza on Sunday.
Second place in the first moto of the final event of the year was enough to give Rattray the title. He went into the event needing 18 points out of a possible 50 to make sure of the championship.
Previous SA world champions
The result saw the 22-year-old Durban rider join Greg Albertyn, who won 250 and 125 world titles, and Grant Langston, who won the 125 championship, as the only South Africans to win world motocross championships.
Rattray and his Red Bull KTM team-mate, Briton Tommy Searle, were the only riders in with a chance of winning the world title. Reigning world champion, Italy’s Antonio Cairoli, dropped out of the title race when he injured a knee at the South African GP in Nelspruit in July.
The overall win in Italy went to Searle, who won both motos. Rattray was classified second and Belgian Joel Roelants, also on a KTM, took the final podium place.
The first moto saw Rattray content to play second fiddle to Searle and make sure of wrapping up the title. Searle led home the South African with Frenchman Anthony Boissiere third on another KTM.
Searle then walked away with the second moto with Roelants second and American Zach Osbourne, on a Yamaha, in third place. Rattray cruised around to finish in fourth place.
The final breakdown of points saw Rattray (636) take the title by 23 points from Searle. Frenchman Nicholas Aubin was third, a massive 207 points behind Searle.
Rattray made his Motocross World Championship debut in the 2001 European GP in the 125cc class. The following year, 2002, was his first full season in the Championship. He surprised by finishing seventh overall and scored his first ever podium in Belgium.
In 2003, Rattray ended sixth in the 125cc Championship.
He competed in the first year of the MX2 class in 2004 and enjoyed a very good season as he finished runner-up to his KTM team mate Ben Townley for the world title. His successes included victories in Spain, France, and Belgium.
An anterior cruciate ligament injury kept Rattray out of action for most of the next season after he had opened it with a promising win in the GP of Flanders. On his return he was victorious in all three races he contested, which left him in 15th place in the Championship standings.
Rattray flattered only to deceive in 2006 as injuries again took their toll. He opened with wins in the first three rounds, but with the injuries came inconsistent form and he had to settle for fourth place in the Championship.
The injury bogey struck again in 2007, bringing an early end to Rattray’s season when he damaged a knee, which forced him to miss the final four GPs.
Finally, in 2008 it all came together as Rattray recorded 13 podiums finishes out of a possible 15 and won four GPs to become world champion.
Rattray said: “It feels great after I had some tough last years, especially with my ACL. To me this is like a dream come true, the Championship was everything for me.”
The 2008 season is not quite over for him, however. Rattray will be in action for South Africa on 28 September at Donington park in the Red Bull Motocross of Nations.
The South African ace has confirmed he will be competing for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing squad in next year’s MX1 World Championship.
Italy Grand Prix results
- Tommy Searle 50 points
- Tyla Rattray 40 points
- Joel Roelants 35 points
- Zach Osborne 34 points
- Stephen Sword 34 points
- Shaun Simpson 27 points
Final World Championship Standings
- Tyla Rattray 636 points
- Tommy Searle 613 points
- Nicolas Aubin 406 points
- Shaun Simpson 394 points
- Rui Goncalves 380 points
- Antonio Cairoli 357 points
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