Motocross can be a hazardous pastime, this brooks no argument. If the thought of 70 - odd kg of human controlling more than 100kg of rip-snorting, horsepower-producing machinery over 30 meter jumps, 10 metre drop-offs, ruts, holes, and generally the roughest terrain imaginable does not bring the picture home, a quick video viewing of a competitive motocross race certainly will. Motocross racers themselves tend to think beyond the risks, though - the passion that drives them and the adrenalin that sustains them far outweigh the risk potential, and week after week, therefore, they are at it, chasing glory on race tracks across the globe.
ALL-ACTION SHANNON - A NOT-TOO-DISTANT MEMORY
The law of averages dictates, however, that every now and then things will go wrong, and regrettably for Shannon Terreblanche, the one event looming large over his entire 2008 season was the broken femur that he sustained at the GP of Germany in Teutschenthal at the end of June. During the second lap of the race, Shannon crashed in the middle of the pack. Some of the following riders, partially unsighted in the dust, ploughed into the hapless young South African, and with charging motorcycles pitted against fragile bone, the laws of physics ruled in favour of the motorcycles. Shannon's leg had sprouted a joint where none was designed, and it was immediately evident that his season was run, and as he was airlifted to hospital, a sense of gloom descended on his supporter camp.
BY NOW, SHANNON WAS DOPED SO MUCH WITH PAIN KILLERS, HE COULD HAVE FLOWN ON HIS OWN
The year had been going well up till then for the 18 year old. After winning the Schijndel Supercross at the end of 2007, he was brimming with confidence coming into the 2008 season on the Beursfoon Suzuki. By now a more rounded GP rider, he slotted straight into the top level of racing, qualifying for GP races with regularity and raking in the points. A couple of 14th places in world championship races were his best results, but he was moving inexorably towards top 10 placements in Grands Prix, and at the time of his injury, he was holding down 26th position in the world standings, not too many pointsaway from the top 20.
SHANTER 77 AT ALTITUDE IN BULGARIA
Shannon was also doing well in his team's domestic championship series, and his goal of a top 5 position in the Dutch Series looked well within reach. He was also winning over new fans with his performances in the Belgian Championship series, and up until the point that his season was so cruelly interrupted, he was sitting in a strong second position in the Belgian series in a class that contains several GP riders. He also participated in a number of invitation races in Latvia, and did his sponsors proud with several victories in the Baltic State.
Motocross is a sport fixed squarely in reality, though, and the reality was that all of the efforts that had gone before had come to naught - any chance of a good overall placement in any of his championship series were blown away like the dust in the emergency helicopter's blades.
DEMONSTRATING HIS SCRUBBING SKILLS
Shannon is nothing is not a good-spirited fighter, though, and he set about his convalescence and recovery with the same enthusiasm that he applies to his training and racing. The frustration oftentimes welled up shallow in his eyes, but finally, towards the end of the racing season, his doctor gave the all clear that he may hurl himself at the scenery again. The motocross season was by now done, but there were a few indoor supercross races that he could participate in. Shannon had by now secured support from the Sturm racing team, and on an unfamiliar Kawasaki he rolled out for his first race, a return to the Supercross of Schijndel.
No one expected Shanter to perform at his peak level yet, but he surprised all and sundry with a solid comeback at Schijndel. Over the two nights of the event, he grew in confidence, and came within a single point of reclaiming the title that he had won the year before. This also nudged him to second position overall in the Dutch Supercross Championships, some consolation for the months of inactivity that he had to endure.
THE RETURN TO SCHIJNDEL BROUGHT SUCCESS AGAIN
After two outings in the German Supercross series, during which he qualified for the finals in competitive fields on both occasions, Shannon and dad Donald hopped onto the plane pointed Southwards. They are spending the holiday period back home in South Africa, and the teenager is applying himself fully to the job of preparing for the 2009 world championship season.
ALthough his own season delivered hugely in the disappointment stakes, Shannon could enjoy a fair bit of vicarious celebration. Fellow South African Tyla Rattray, who had also come across the injury monster on occasion, put it all behind him to claim the MX2 motocross world title, and his friend an fellow Vangani Racing protege, Matiss Karro, was crowned125cc junior world champion. Shanter is generous to a T, and celebrated his friends' achievements with them. He knows fully well, though, that the struggle continues, and with continued application and dedication, his day may yet come.
Although he has moved to a new team, Shannon has not forgotten the past, and he would like to thank the Beursfoon Suzuki team and all his sponsors and supporters for their much-valued assistance and support throughout the season.
A COMMON VANGANI RACING HERITAGE
TINUS NEL, JENYA BOBRYSHEV, KENNY VANDUEREN, SHANNON TERREBLANCHE, TANEL LEOK, TYLA RATTRAY, MATISS KARRO
A video interview conducted with Shannon conducted one week after his injury can be viewed online.
Although not a video of Shannon himself, this video celebrating Tyla Rattray's world title is appropriate. Tyla specifically acknowledged his fellow South African at GP of Germany. Ironically, Tyla won the very GP at which Shannon got injured.
This report is available online.
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