“ROCK BLEND OFFROAD” WILL TEST NATIONAL BIKE AND QUAD COMPETITORS
It is time for national off-road motorcycle and quad competitors to tackle the second round of the 2013 championship on Saturday, 27 April and the ‘Rock Blend Offroad’ promises to test their riding abilities as well as their fitness. The 180 kilometre race will take place in the Balmoral / Bronkhorstspruit area and will be the second Sprint Event of the season before competitors move to Botswana in June for the only marathon race consisting of about one thousand kilometres.
Organised by the Gauteng Off-road Club (GOC), the ‘Rock Blend Offroad’ will take place on old mining terrain and the 60km loop will consist of some rocky sections as well as sand and tracks ideal for this national event. More than 110 motorcycle riders have entered in a variety of suitable classes while almost 70 four-wheelers will tackle the race in the national category while more riders have also entered the event that forms the third round of the PS Portable Shade GOC Series.
The 2013 national season kicked off early with a Seeding Event in January while the first round of the championship took place early in March and with an eight week gap between the two races, it will be interesting to see how well competitors maintained their levels of fitness as this race will yet again be demanding.
At the front Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Broadlink KTM) and Jurie ‘Botter’ Meyer (Yamaha Support) are the respective leaders of the motorcycle and quad categories after they’ve drawn first blood at the opening round. They can be sure to be chased – Mahoney by all the riders who have their eye on winning a race (he has won all six rounds last season) and Meyer by a gaggle of quad riders that include those who experienced some bad luck at the first race.
Two of the unlucky ones, are former champion Brian Baragwanath (BB Motorsport PEP Lonestar Yamaha) and André du Plessis (Evolution Racing Suzuki) who do not have any points behind their names due to mechanical problems at the first race. They will be charging from the back and will target Senior Class Championship leader, Jacques Struwig (Boesman Racing Suzuki) who is second on the overall standings, as well as third-placed John Aylward (Yamaha). Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) and Stefan Swanepoel (Quad Revolution Honda) rounds off the top five and with the rest of the capable riders behind them, they will have to stand their man to ensure they keep (or better) their current positions.
The battle for overall points is extremely fierce as only the first 20 riders score points. This battle gets even worse in the motorcycle category where more there are entries than in the quad section. Nicholas Pienaar (C3 Roost KTM Expert Sol) and Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) were both on the podium in second and third place respectively and like in the quad category, they will have to pull out all the stops if they would like to stay there. Scholar Michael Pentecost (Kargo Racing Yamaha) aims for the podium and is fourth with Husqvarna Racing’s Altus de Wet fifth.
While those riders with points would like to bag some more towards the overall standings and class championships, there are a few who will aim for their first points of the season. These include Dakar Rally hero, Riaan van Niekerk (Brother Broadlink KTM); Michael Creevy (Husqvarna Racing); Timothy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) and Dillon Inggs (Roost ECS KTM) who all experienced problems during the first race.
Mahoney, Pienaar and Gilbert are on the OR1 (Open Class) podium with Vincent Crosbie (Naledi Motors Wesbank KTM) topping the OR2 (250cc) championship followed by Francois de Greeff (KTM) and Mahoney’s team-mate, Jono van Wyk. OR3 (200cc) and OR4 (Under 21) are combined for the championship with Pentecost currently leading Jaycee Nienaber (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha) and Renier Kotze (Bert Smith Racing Powered by RAD KTM).
On four wheels Q1 and Q2 are also combined for the championship with Meyer (Q1) and Aylward (Q1) at the front while Dos Santos (Q2) rounds off this championship. Struwig will be chased in the Senior Class by second-placed Russell Ferreira (Diamond Trailers Honda) while Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki) is currently third. Pieter Holl (Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD) leads the Senior Motorcycle Class from his team mate, Ian Venter (third) with Dennis Williams (Roost ECS KTM) sandwiched between them.
Another member of Team Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD, Leon Gerber, is leading the Master Class while ‘Botter’ Meyer’s dad and team-mate, Jurie Snr, is the Master Class leader on four wheels. The competition in the Senior and Master Classes of both the categories is very tough while the perserverance of these riders (all above the age of 36) is being tested even more as they have to complete the full race distance of the Sprint Events.
Female riders Chardri Monk (Thesens Generators KTM) and Kirsten Landman (Brother Broadlink KTM) are the respective leaders of their classes in the quad and bike categories, but the rest of the girls will be all out to give them a go for their money.
The Silver Class Challenge has received good quality entries and the category leaders – quad rider Graeme Howell (Evolution Racing Suzuki) and the young Mauritz Meiring (McGee Yamaha) on two wheels – can prepare themselves to be challenged at the ‘Rock Blend Offroad’ this weekend.
All the action begins on Saturday (27 April) at 08:00 when almost 80 quad competitors (national and PS Portable Shade GOC Series combined) will tackle the 180km route with more than 250 motorcycle riders who will start at 12:00.
South Africa’s best off-road riders from as far as Port Elizabeth, East London, Kimberley and the Free State will be in action and spectators are welcome. Follow the N4 from Pretoria towards Witbank and take turn-off 75 (R545 Kendal, Ogies, Balmoral). Turn right towards Kendal / Ogies and continue for about six kilometres where you will find the entrance to the pits and the Start/Finish on your left. The race venue is about 85 kilometres out of Pretoria.
(GPS co-ordinates to the race venue: S 25° 55’ 17.17” E 28° 57’ 52.41”)