FIRST NATIONAL ENDURO BATTLE TO TAKE PLACE IN CHAMPAGNE VALLEY
Four Rivers Adventures in the Winterton area in the scenic Champagne Valley will be the battlefield for the first round of the 2014 Liquorland National Enduro Motorcycle Championship that will take place on Saturday (22 February) and the country’s best enduro motorcycle competitors will be in action with their focus on the championships and titles.
Many competitors might recognise the venue for the ‘Liquorland Champagne Valley Enduro’ as they competed from Four Rivers Adventures in 2011. The race organisers, the WFO Club, have returned to this venue where a spectacular, but testing route will await competitors from all ages who will travel from the corners of South Africa to participate in the season opener.
All eyes will be on the 17-year old defending champion, Wade Young (Brother KTM) who will aim to defend his E1 number as well as the 200cc championship, now called the E1 championship. He will have his work cut out for him as tough competition is predicted for this season. Former multiple enduro champions, Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) – he finished just behind Young last year and won the Open Class championship (now called the E2 championship) – as well as Young’s team-mate, Louwrens Mahoney, who has recovered from an ankle injury, will be between those who will hope their experience will count in their favour.
Broadlink KTM will push a big team into the field with the Junior National Open Class Champion, Travis Teasdale, who will start his first full enduro season as well as Scott Bouverie who was South Africa’s best finisher at the 2013 Roof of Africa with a third place after recovering fully from a wrist injury last year. Louw Schmidt and Tyron Miller will also compete on national level. It is interesting to note that all the riders in the 2013 overall top 12 have entered the ‘Liquorland Champagne Valley Enduro’ showing just how competitive the national enduro championship is.
Proudly Bidvest Yamaha’s Kenny Gilbert (E2) and multiple former champion, Marc Torlage (E1), who has recovered from a back injury, will again have their eyes on the titles while Nicholas Pienaar (KTM) will hope to kick-start his season with a podium result like last year. Like Young, a few more youngsters have stamped their authority on the championship and cannot be left out of the picture. They include Timothy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) who finished the season in fourth place overall; Brett Swanepoel (Team JOAT KTM) who was the runner-up in the 200cc championship and Blake Gutzeit (Sherco Racing) who rounded his season off with a second place at the final event.
Team Liquorland Racing’s James Hodson (Yamaha) – he finished 10th overall last year – and Nick Wade as well as Dwayne Kleynhans (KTM) and Kyle Erasmus (Yamaha) will all again be in action. A large number of youngsters have moved up from the Junior National Championship and although they might be intimidated by the more experienced riders, they have the potential to post good results. These riders include the 125cc Class champion, Angus Coetzee (Yamaha); Mauritz Meiring (VANS Racing Division KTM); Corbin Lamb (East Coast Motorcycles Kawasaki); Kyle Flanagan (TLB Plant Hire KTM); Henco Botha and Ceegan Laubscher (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha). Laubscher’s team-mate, Damien Scott, won the Silver Class Challenge last year and will now also compete in E1.
The Senior Class championship is not only alive with well-known names including the top three finishers of 2013 – multiple Senior Class champion, William Gillitt (Liquorland Racing Yamaha); runner-up Bruce May (Yamaha) and Jody Engelbrecht (TLB Plant Hire KTM) – but also includes a few names who made a comeback to the sport. Gillitt’s team-mate, Steven Landman, as well as Mark Fox (KTM) will again be in action after an absence of a few months while regulars like Matthew Barker (Yamaha) – he finished the season in fourth place – and Peter Jung (KTM) will add to the competition. The suspension guru, Hilton Hayward (Yamaha) will also compete for the first time in years.
Like the E1 and E2 classes as well as the Senior Class championship, the Master Class championship has also received a healthy amount of entries. The defending champion, Denzil Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) will be aiming for his seventh consecutive title, but he would not like to be beaten at the season opener like last year. The name of veteran rider and multiple former champion, Alfie Cox (KTM) appears on the entry list – he beat Torlage at the first event of 2013 – while Garth Prost (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing), who was the only other winner last year, will also be in action.
There are many new names on the list, but the name of Carl Rohrbeck (Husaberg), who finished as the runner-up in this class for the past two seasons, is quite familiar as is regular Cape Town competitor, Tom Bogershausen (KTM) and the editor of EnduroWorld magazine, Gary Franks (KTM). An interesting battle can be expected in this class.
The new High School Championship has attracted the 2013 winner of the Junior Enduro Class, Dean Lindsay (Yamaha) who is also the defending Junior National Champion of the Senior 85cc Class. A few young and upcoming youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 years and mostly from KwaZulu-Natal, will also be on the start line with their eye on the title.
The 2013 winner of the Silver Class Challenge (Damien Scott) is now competing in E1, but runner-up, Sage McGregor (KTM) will again be competing in this class together with a few familiar riders including various former Junior National Championship competitors. The two ladies, Toni Jardine (KTM) – she finished third overall in this class last year – and Kirsten Landman (Brother KTM) will again be competing in this class where 20 entries have been received so far.
The ‘Liquorland Champagne Valley Enduro’ will consist of four Special Stages. Two of these timed stages – the short, flat track motocross-style stage as well as the extreme 400m stage – are close to the pits and Start/Finish of the race at Four Rivers Adventures and will produce spectacular action for spectators. Competitors will also have to tackle a longer Special Stage in the plantations while a nine kilometre stage will have something of everything – plantation roads; rocky climbs and descents, mud and some forest track.
The race starts at 8:00 on Saturday (22 Feb) and spectators are welcome. Four Rivers Adventures is situated next to the R600 south of Winterton (GPS points: S28°57. 208 E29°31.157