SEEDING EVENT WILL OPEN 2014 NATIONAL OFF-ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR BIKES AND QUADS
The 2014 National Off-road Championship for motorcycle and quad competitors will kick off on Saturday (1 February) with a Seeding Event that will determine the starting orders for the first race of the season. The Seeding Event will return to Bronkhorstspruit for the second consecutive year and riders will have more than one chance to post a qualifying time.
Like the 2013 season, the starting orders for each race will again be determined by a seeding system based on results. This system replaced the time-trial on the Friday before the main race and was one of the major changes made to the traditional national off-road racing series in an attempt to make racing more affordable for competitors.
Off-road motorcycle and quad competitors will travel from the corners of the country to compete in the Seeding Event hosted by the Gauteng Off-road Club (GOC). Quad competitors will have the first opportunity to tackle the 35 kilometre loop with entrants in the national series who will open the road from 07h00 on Saturday morning.
The Seeding Event will also determine the starting order for the opening round of the Northern Regions Championship as well as for the first race of the PS Portable Shade GOC Series. This means that competitors in all three these series’ have to post a result and those who are not able to attend the event, will start behind the qualifiers at the first events.
After the qualifying period for the quad riders has expired (10h00), it will be the turn of the national motorcycle competitors who will start at 10h30. Like the quaddies, they can also attempt to complete the loop two or even three times before the ‘club’ riders (non national competitors) start at 12h30. All motorcycle riders have to finish racing by 17h00.
This promises to be an action packed day as the organisers hope to receive more than 300 entries. National competitors from as far as Cape Town and Montagu; Port Elizabeth; Kimberley; Bethlehem, Bloemfontein and Ladybrand in the Free State as well as Musina and Hoedspruit in the northern parts of the Limpopo Province; KwaZulu-Natal and areas closer to Bronkhorstspruit have already entered and the quiet little town will be a hive of activity over the weekend.
In the motorcycle category, all eyes will be on the former multiple champion, Louwrens Mahoney (Brother KTM) who will be in action again after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the first half of the 2013 season. He will be up against the overall winner of the 2013 season and the OR1 champion, Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who was involved in a battle for the title with Ruan Roberts (Yamaha) while Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing), who finished the season in third place behind Gilbert and Roberts, will also be back in action.
And while these and other more experienced riders will fancy their chances, they will have to keep an eye on a bursting bunch of young and upcoming riders who cannot be left out of the picture.
Although the quad category receives less entrants than the motorcycle category, the competition is as fierce and the championship battle went down to the wire in 2013. Defending title holder, Jurie Meyer (Yamaha) will aim for a hat-trick while former champion, Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha) would like to change his L2 number to L1, especially as he plans to enter the 2015 Dakar Rally. John Aylward (Yamaha) finished on the podium after various races, but had to settle for third place last year. He will be back with a vengeance with his focus on the title.
The reliability of the race quads together with the commitment and experience of competitors play a major role in the quad results and combined with the bravery of the younger competitors and the fitness levels, an unpredictable championship is on the cards.
Both the motorcycle and quad categories now boast a High School Class Championship for riders between the ages of 14 and 16 years while the ladies competing on two and four wheels can now also aim for a championship title as they will be scored in a Combined Ladies Class Championship.
After the Seeding Event, competitors will travel to Wolmaransstad for the first round of the 2014 championship that takes place on 8 March. They then have just over a month to prepare for the second round of the series and they will tackle an all new event at Windsorton in the Kimberley area on 12 April. Just before the winter kicks in, the third round of the championship will take riders back to Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal for the BELL 400 on 10 May. Like the Wolmaransstad race, the Kalahari 400 is also back after an absence of a year or two, but this time competitors will have to tackle this event outside Vryburg in the winter – on 14 June.
From the Kalahari Desert in winter to the Free State in spring and from the four longer 360 kilometre races to the last two shorter Sprint Events to round the season off. National competitors will visit the Frankfort/Tweeling area on 23 August for the first time and will round the season off with the Rysmierbult event outside Ventersdorp in the North-West Province on 27 September.
Spectators are welcome to join in the action and rub shoulders with South Africa’s best off-road bike and quad riders. Enthusiasts will be able to get close to the racing action while food and refreshments will be sold at the GOC Village during the day. Follow these GPS waypoints (S25° 44’ 56.93” E28° 41’ 26.57”) to the farm Schietpoort or follow the N4 East from Pretoria and take the Ekandustria / Bronkhorstspruit (West) exit about 14km after the Cullinan Toll plaza. Turn left towards Ekandustria and follow the R513 for approximately 2.4km – the race venue and pits will be on the right.