Team Proudly Bidvest Yamaha Racing went to the Liquorland National Enduro @ Lydenburg with a full team and walked away with a full house of results that included two podium positions and lots of valuable points towards the 2014 Liquorland National Enduro Championship.
The event formed the fourth round of the national series and was held on Saturday (26 July) outside Lydenburg in Mpumalanga. Dry and fairly hot conditions greeted competitors who knew that dust might be a problem during the race, but that did not keep the ‘new’ team from delivering the goods. The team now consists of four members and includes the young Salt Rock rider, Brett Swanepoel (19). Swanepoel has joined the team during the break of four months in the national series and it was his first outing in the Proudly Bidvest Yamaha Racing colours.
The team also welcomed back the multiple former champion, Marc Torlage, who has recovered from his injuries – back and collarbone injuries have prevented Torlage from participation since early March – with the rest of the team (the defending national off-road champion, Kenny Gilbert, as well as the defending Master Class champ, Denzil Torlage) knowing what was expected from them.
Swanepoel, who is currently third in the E1 (200cc) class championship, Torlage and Gilbert all finished in the overall top 10 with Swanepoel claiming the third place in the E1 championship despite losing time during the final Extreme Special Test. He finished sixth overall with his Yamaha YZ250F to keep his third place in the E1 Class Championship with two rounds of the national series remaining.
Torlage started quite far back down the field due to his lack of points and results. He used the first two of the four laps to ‘settle down’ as he has not raced for more than four months and then came back with all guns blazing to post competitive times despite the dusty conditions. Torlage finished just behind Swanepoel in E1 and was eighth overall.
Gilbert, who fly the flag for the team in E2 (Open Class), had a good race until Lady Luck turned her back on him during the Extreme Special Test on the last lap when the chain on his YZ290F came off. The uneven rocky section did not make his life any easier and he had to see valuable seconds ticking away while he fixed it. Less than four minutes separated the top 10 finishers and the lost time meant that Gilbert had to settle for the sixth place in E2 and the 10th place overall.
In the Master Class, Torlage Snr was again up against the extremely experienced Alfie Cox. There were five Special Timed Stages for competitors in the Master Class – E1 and E2 competitors competed in 11 Special Stages – and Torlage finished as the runner-up to Cox by only 55 points (seconds) after an enjoyable and safe race.
The next national outing for the Torlages as well as Swanepoel will be the fifth and penultimate rounds of the Liquorland National Enduro Championship, the Winterberg Enduro on September 6 while Gilbert will be in action at the fifth and penultimate round of the National Off-road Championship on 23 August in the Frankfort/Reitz area in the Free State.