The championship battles will continue as the Liquorland National Enduro Motorcycle Championship reaches the halfway mark with the KEI National Enduro that will take place this weekend at East London in the Eastern Cape.
National enduro motorcycle competitors will however have to look at the bigger picture as they will have to score the maximum amount of points this weekend while making sure they are ready for the fourth round of the season that takes place only two weeks later on May 2nd at Ashton in the Western Cape.
The first two national events that took place on the same weekend last month, gave most riders a solid foundation to build from and the popular KEI National Enduro promises competitive racing action produced by competitors from all over South Africa.
Two consecutive victories for Brother Leader Tread KTM team-mates, Wade Young (E2 / Open Class) and Travis Teasdale (E1 / 200cc Class) as well as Eduan Bester (KTM Centurion / Liqui Moly Racing) and Hilton Hayward (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) in the Master Class, opened the door to their title chase. There are also early signs that a tough battle is looming in the Senior Class Championship with Jody Engelbrecht (Yamaha) and Bruce May (AgriSales / Peak Yamaha Racing) starting the season with the same amount of points after a victory and a second place each.
Young, who is also participating in international races this year, was injured during a crash earlier this month, but he will fight the pain to aim for a third E2 victory. His team-mate, Scott Bouverie and Altus de Wet (Altus de Wet Racing Sherco) both scored two podium results and are currently second and third in the E2 Championship with only 10 points separating Young from De Wet in third place. Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) finished fourth after both the first and second round at Creighton. Like Bouverie and De Wet, he will also aim to put a stop to the winning spree of the defending E1 champion (Young).
There are also only 10 points difference between the rest of the top 10 with Bronson Louw (Husqvarna Factory Racing) in fifth place, two points ahead of Nicholas Pienaar (Ridgeway Racing Husqvarna) in sixth with Team Liquorland Racing’s Nick Wade (Husqvarna) in seventh place. Only one point separates Wade from Dalan Hall (cc Gallery KTM Gateway) in eighth with Sage McGregor (KTM), who will be racing in front of his home crowd, in ninth place, one point ahead of Roan Lindsay (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha).
These standings can look totally different after the KEI National Enduro, especially as the name of Blake Gutzeit (Husqvarna Factory Racing) appears on the entry list for the first time this season. Gutzeit has had a good international racing season so far this year and a good result at the KEI National Enduro will bolster his list of 2015 results.
Teasdale had a solid start to the season, but Brett Swanepoel (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha), who is also leading the OR3 (200cc Class) in the Totpak National Off-road Championship after two solid victories, will have his eye on the E1 victory at East London. Swanepoel scored two runner-up results at Creighton and trails Teasdale by six points while Kyle Flanagan (Ihobe International KTM) rounds off the E1 podium, six points behind Swanepoel.
Brandon Warwick-Oliver (Team Liquorland Racing Yamaha) is fourth, not too far behind Flanagan (three points separate them), but his will have to keep an eye on Dwayne Kleynhans (Brother Leader Tread KTM) who is only one point behind him while Tim Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) trails Kleynhans by only three points. The rest of the top ten is somewhat further behind, but these standings can also change quickly if someone makes a mistake.
The Senior Class battle has all the ingredients to turn it into a proper fight. Engelbrecht and May are the combined leaders, but defending champion, William ‘Wild Will’ Gillitt (AgriSales / Peak Yamaha Racing), who are currently third, will do everything in his power to take the lead in his aim for a tenth championship title. He will chase his team-mate and Engelbrecht to try and shrink the seven points’ gap, but Graham Hedgcock (KTM Cape Town), who is only four points behind him, have the podium in his sight and can be a threat to the top three. Steven Carr (Roost KTM / EC Security) is fifth and a blanket of only six points separate the rest of the riders in the top ten. East London’s Mark Fox (KTM) is sixth, one points behind Carr and two points ahead of local Gonubie businessman, Steve Landman (Team Liquorland Yamaha) with Stuart Harvey (Yamaha Support) ninth and Craig van Heerden tenth.
The High School Class Championship, that was introduced last year, has received many more entries this year and the young enduro riders between the ages of 14 and 16, are showing that they have what it takes to produce the goods. Bester, the defending champion, might have two victories behind his name, but second-placed Daniel van Zyl has recovered from a wrist injury and will aim for the victory. Former Junior National Champion, Dean Lindsay (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha) trails Van Zyl by a mere two points. A new name of the list is that of Capetonian, Calvin Wiltshire (Sherco) who might be the dark horse at the KEI National Enduro.
These young heroes of the future know that a high level of fitness, determination and hard work – yes, even though they have to spend a few hours a day at school – will result in them getting better at each event.
In the Master Class Championship, the question remains: can the multiple champion, Denzil Torlage, stop his Proudly Bidvest Yamaha team-mate, Hilton Hayward, from claiming his first Master Class title or will Garth Prost (Husqvarna Factory Racing) be able to do so? Hayward, who also competed in the Swaziland round of the Totpak National Off-road Championship and claimed the Master Class victory, took the first two victories of the season with Torlage and Prost sharing the same amount of points after the first two rounds.
An interesting battle for the title and podium results can be expected for the KEI National Enduro as well as for rest of the season. Shaun Kirk (Beta Liqui Moly Racing SA) who is fourth and fifth-placed Steve Botha (AgriSales Peak Yamaha Racing) can also contribute to the ‘Battle of the Masters’ at the front.
The Silver Class Challenge leader, Matatiele scholar, Lloyd Kirk (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha) will have to stand his man against an onslaught of experienced riders, like Darren Pienaar (Ridgeway Racing) and local East London rider, Simon Warne (KTM). He will also have second-placed Regardt van Nieuwenhuizen (KTM) all over his rear wheel and this class can again produce some interesting results.
Documentation will take place on Friday (17 April) at Buffalo Toyota in East London. All the racing action will happen at Spring Valley (GPS points: 27° 57′ 2.49″ E / 32° 47′ 47.27″ S) situated about 27km outside East London. The racing action will start on Saturday (18 April) at 8:30 and action-packed racing can be expected with lots of excellent spectators view points.