PROUDLY BIDVEST YAMAHA’S ‘KING KENNY’ TAKES THE LEAD
Proudly Bidvest Yamaha Racing’s Kenny Gilbert has taken the overall lead in the SA National Off-road Motorcycle Championship after a well deserved podium position at this weekend’s GOC National Off-road, the fifth and penultimate round of the 2014 series that took place in the Free State.
Competition in the National Off-road Motorcycle Championship has been extremely tough this season, but ‘King Kenny’ has proved that consistency – and not necessarily race victories – is the only way to go. The defending title holder and OR1 Class Champion tackled the short 180 kilometre GOC Sprint Event from the front row and stuck to his strategy to ‘play it safe’ and ‘bring it home’. The route set out between Frankfort and Reitz in the Free State was dry and dusty and competitors were thankful for the wind.
Gilbert admitted that he applied extreme caution especially during the first of the three 60km loops as the route demanded commitment and concentration. River crossings, a few rocky sections and a twisty route kept the riders busy and while they were aiming for the maximum amount of points at the season’s penultimate event, they knew they had only 180 kilometres to do so. Gilbert played it safe while chasing Louwrens Mahoney who took the lead and finished a mere 1 minute 37 seconds behind him in second place after a total race time of 2:48,22 (Gilbert’s race time).
This result means that ‘King Kenny’ is now leading the overall standings where he is (provisionally) five points ahead of Mahoney and although he is still third in the OR1 Championship, he has closed the gap to the the two riders ahead of him and is now trailing the leader by only eight points.
“I am very happy with my race pace and my Yamaha WR450 did not put a wheel wrong,” a smiling Gilbert said after the race. “There was no margin for error and with only 180 kilometres, you had to give it your all during the whole race and that is what I did,” the defending champion said.
There were more victories and podium positions for Yamaha with Timmy Young (Kargo Racing) finishing third overall and in OR1 while Eduan Bester, Toni Jardine and Johan Lubbe took the victories in the High School Class Championship; the Combined Ladies Class Championship and the Silver Class Challenge respectively. Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha team-mates, Jaycee Nienaber and Dean Lindsay finished second in the High School Class and OR2 respectively while Bernard McGee (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg) was second in OR3.
Yamaha not only walked away with the Manufacturer’s Award in the national quad category, but they claimed their fifth consecutive overall victory with Brian Baragwanath (Team Rhide SA) winning again with his Raptor 700. There were three more Yamaha’s in the top five with André du Plessis finishing third overall and in Q1 while David Hollis was fourth with Hannes Saaijman finishing fifth overall and winning Q2.
Yamaha was also represented on the Senior Class podium where Stuart Freemand (PS Diamond Trailers) and Ted Barbier (Team Rhide SA) claimed the second and third places respectively.
With only one round of the 2014 series to go, Baragwanath has secured the overall title as well as the Q1 Class Championship with Hollis finishing as the runner-up in both
The final round of the 2014 National Off-road Championship will take place on 27 September at Rysmierbult in the Ventersdorp area in the North West Province. This will also be a Sprint Event consisting of 180 kilometres.