Hapless Rattray suffers broken thumb at Red Bud Raceway
Tyla Rattray is no stranger to injury disappointment at the most inopportune times. If we turn the memory clocks back a few years, we recall that strong runs in the world championship series were interrupted by injury in both 2005 and 2006, and his career, like that of most any professional racer, is dotted with injury dips here and there. Last weekend, just as his definite breakthrough in the AMA US motocross series seemed well in the making, the ever-looming injury spectre struck again.
Lest we be accused of getting ahead of ourselves, let us reel back to the beginning, however. Round six of the series would take the crew to Red Bud Raceway in Buchanan, Michigan. The date of the race, 4 July, meant that the day had special significance for all hot-blooded Americans, it being Independence Day. The spectator attendance was huge, and if anything, the Stars and Stripes was being waved with more enthusiasm than ever, as the fans celebrated their national holiday in the perfect manner - a day at the races. Although Americans are patriotic as they come, the great nation was built to a large extent by the toil of immigrants, and even now, a newcomer that adapts to the American way and displays the enterprising spirit which so inextricably links to the American dream, finds ready acceptance from the home fans. The South African, with his friendly, no-nonsense demeanour and bull-headed will to succeed, has in a short t ime built up a sizeable fan base, and thus also for him the bells were ringing on the day.
Tyla was looking forward to the race. The rough track would be right up his alley, and moreover, it would be his first acquaintance with Larocco's Leap, a massive uphill triple step-up jump, which is not for the ... shall we say ... cojonically challenged. This jump requires total commitment and a full throttle run up on a 250cc machine, and Tyla made sure that he and his Pro-Circuit Kawasaki were one of the very few pairings in the MX Lites class to successfully traverse this obstacle in one clear leap. Styla went out and posted the third fastest lap time in the qualifying session, underscoring the fact that he is firmly in the ballpark with of speed with he fastest riders in the series. After having completed the qualifying formalities, he was all set on making the 4th of July outing special for himself.
At the start of race 1 there was a not-too-unfamiliar pile-up in the first corner. ALthough he did not crash, Tyla was caught up in the melee, and by the time he had gotten by, the hares were off and running free. He hunkered down to some scorching laps, and pretty soon found himself in the top 10. Giving now speed away to the race leader, he worked his way up to fifth position. Coming from where he did, this was a significant performance, but unfortunately for the South African, he stalled his bike on the last lap, allowing eternal rival Tommy Searle to sneak by. Still, under the circumstances, he was more than happy with sixth place in the race.
The track was rougher than a sailor's jokes as the riders went out for the sighting lap before the second race. Tyla fluffed the start somewhat, but from around 15th position, he blitzed around like a lubricated Exocet missile, making his way up to fourth position within the space on a single lap. He was just about to clamp onto the leaders, when one of Red Bud's notoriously deep braking bumps did it for him. The front wheel of his bike got snagged up, and the South African was catapulted over the bars. He got up from the thudding crash holding his hand, and after a brief trackside inspection, a broken thumb was diagnosed.
A proper check up on Monday confirmed the finding. An operation is scheduled for Tuesday to pin the thumb, and it is expected that Tyla will be out of action for 2 races, and hopefully will be ready for action again at the last 4 rounds of the series.
It was a somewhat less than cheery rider who commented on the outcome of the day: "I obviously feel very disappointed, I really liked this track and I was feeling the best I have all season in that second race, I was making a lot of passes and riding with a lot of momentum, and I was just going forward so easily. I don't know what happened really, I think I must have just hit some big braking bumps wrong and got thrown over the bars pretty hard. The medics at the track took some x-rays and they say my thumb is broken. Tomorrow morning I will be seeing a specialist to see what the extent of the injury is and how long the recovery time will be, I'm hoping its not too serious so I can get back out there. It's just a pity because I feel like was starting to figure things out and getting better for the 2nd half of the season. I hate injuries but I guess they are just part of the sport so I will keep me head up, keep working hard and come back strong again as soon as I can."
The enforced DNF in the second race cost the South African dearly in the series points standings. He was lying third in the series coming into the race, but has now dropped down to fifth in the standings.