Mathew Scholtz Signs with Westby Yamaha

MotoAmerica: South Africa's Mathew Scholtz Signs with Westby Yamaha
South Africa’s Mathew Scholtz

During the Road America and Barber Motorsports Park rounds of the 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race series, one rider has truly stuck out – Mathew Scholtz. Despite only competing in four races (two rounds), along with having zero familiarity on American circuits, the South African immediately put himself into fighting contention, earning two third-place finishes.

With a future somewhat unknown in the world of American road racing, the 23-year-old scored has now solidified his place by penning an agreement with the Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha team.

Scholtz will finish the season aboard the #720 Yamahlube/Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 Superstock 1000. That announcement was made official by Tryg Westby, the team’s owner.

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During his short MotoAmerica tenure, Schultz has competed on two completely different bikes. We first saw Scholtz substituting for the  injured Sheridan Morais; Scholtz eventually finished third in Race 1 at Road America. At Barber, which turned out to be one of the toughest races of the season due to weather, he managed another third place finish, following it up with a fifth-place finish. That immediately put him in the 10th position for the Superstock 1000 Championship point standings. Not bad for someone who missed the opening four rounds.

But all of this comes as no surprise to his supporters back home – Scholtz is also currently racing in the South African National Motorcycle Circuit Racing Championship and he’s leading the SuperGP Champions Trophy standings by a more than modest 47 points. His home series has four rounds left, so it seems that Scholtz will be doing quite a bit of traveling.

Like so many road racers throughout the world, Mathew began racing in motocross at the age of five aboard a Yamaha PW50. From the beginning, he was a winner, and he quickly progressed through the different race classes in the South African national motocross series.

His story follows the same lines as the greats – at a young age he could be found whipping about motocross tracks aboard a Yamaha PW50. Quickly moving through the ranks of the South African national motorcross series, he eventually made the switch to road racing.

Scholtz had competed in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Championship, as did many other standouts: JD Beach, Jake Gagne, Hayden Gillim and Benny Solis. During his tenure with the Rookies Cup, Scholtz performed well, managing several podium finishes and a win in Brno.

In 2012 and 2013, Scholtz made the prestigious transition into the Spanish CEV, German IDM and FIM Supersport Championships. It’s clear that Scholtz is a hard worker; he’s a rider that is willing to jump on a plane at any time and do what it takes for his team.

“It’s an honor for me to join such a prestigious and well-known team as Yamalube/Westby Racing,” Mathew said. “I’ve had a chance to meet everyone on the team, and I already know that the Yamalube/Westby Racing R1 is brilliant, so I am very much looking forward to competing aboard the bike beginning at Utah. Although I’ve never raced at Utah Motorsports Campus, I’m confident that we will be battling with the boys up front. I know that the team has not had the easiest of seasons so far, but I will be giving it my all for the remainder of the 2016 MotoAmerica season to help bring the team and their many fans the results they deserve.”

You’ll be able to see Mathew in the Gold and Black of the Yamalube/Westby Racing team at Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, UT. Everything gets underway on June 23.

We wish Scholtz the best but more importantly, we particularly enjoy the idea of riders from across the globe coming to the US, helping invigorate the MotoAmerica racing series. Some have said that these foreign riders coming into the series and immediately showing competitiveness illustrates how weak the American road racing market is.

On some level, I can see the point – though it’s a moot one, at best. If the interest continues, it may not be this generation that moves to the world stage – riders like Cameron Beaubier are certainly pegged to do so – but the next generation of riders. This riders will be better, if and only if, we as racing fans support the league.

Time and time again, a sport has been pushed to new heights with each generation. The skill sets that created champions in the years prior become the baseline as we continue. This influx of European riders being tapped is a positive thing because it turns the spotlight to a reemerging market, one that has been neglected and rightfully so in many cases by American riders who are trying to make their careers in racing.

So to riders like Scholtz, Toni Elias, Valentin Debise, Claudio Corti, Cameron Peterson and the other riders from all over the world who have set sail from unfamiliar soil to race here, there’s plenty of upside by having such strong competition in America road racing – a league that once churned out MotoGP contenders and champions. Given what we’ve seen so far from MotoAmerica and its organizers, I’m confident that they’ll achieve what we’ve seen in the past again.