PREVIEW : ‘JUNIOR ROOF’
1st Round of the 2013 Junior National Off-road Championship
29-30 March 2013 : Lesotho
YOUNG OFF-ROAD COMPETITORS READY FOR ‘JUNIOR ROOF’ IN LESOTHO
At last – time for the youngsters to go off-road! The 2013 Junior National Off-road Championship is about to kick off this weekend (29-30 March) with the popular ‘Junior Roof’ that will take place in Lesotho. It will be the opening round of the new season for young off-road motorcycle and quad competitors between the ages of seven and 17 years and a healthy amount of entries has been received from young riders who have been waiting in anticipation to tackle their own “Roof of Africa” race.
The ‘Junior Roof’ is being organised by the Lesotho Off-road Association (LORA) who also organised the extremely successful 2012 Roof of Africa motorcycle endurance race that was won by a former junior champion, the 16-year old Wade Young. The entry list for this weekend’s ‘Junior Roof’ brims with names of current champions and some new names – a scenario that sets the scene for action packed racing with interesting results. The race will start with a short time-trial on Friday (29 March) that will determine the starting order for Saturday’s race that will take place in the Matsieng area outside Maseru.
All the motorcycle classes have received quality entries. In the senior category, 20 riders have entered in the Senior Open Motorcycle Class for riders between the ages of 15 and 17 years competing on 250cc four-stroke bikes. The Kokstad rider, Damien Scott (Criterion Yamaha Portable Shade) has won this class at the 2012 Junior Roof and he will be all out to do so again. He can expect tough competition from the current 125cc Class champion, Travis Teasdale (Husaberg Alfie Cox Racing) who has moved to this class with his sights on another title.
A few riders in this class have competed in Lesotho last year. This includes Bradley Nortje (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha). Nortje as well as Scott’s team mate, Kyle Flanagan, finished the 2012 season in the top ten in this class. Riders like Ruan Merry (Nuts Racing Verotest KTM); Gerhard Grove; Eamonn Sullivan (Yamaha) and Driekert du Plessis (KTM) have also competed in this event last year, but in a different class and they will hope that their previous experience will count in their favour this year.
It is interesting to see the name of the winner of the 2012 GOC Junior Series, Mauritz Meiring (McGee Yamaha) on the list as well as other competitors who have been competing in regional championships all over the country. One will have to wait for the flag to drop and the final results to see who has conquered Lesotho, but one thing is for sure: the competition between these talented youngsters will be extremely tough.
Riders between the ages of 13 and 17 can also compete in the 125cc Motorcycle Class where they are limited to racing with 125cc two-stroke machines. Here 23 competitors will start the race and with last season’s top two riders no longer in the picture (Teasdale and Brett Swanepoel who now competes on senior level), the door has been left wide open for riders like Cape Town’s Aeron Thompson who finished third overall last year. He will again aim for the title on his Kargo Racing Yamaha.
Some of the 2012 competitors will be back on their 125cc motorcycles. These include former junior champ, Angus Coetzee (Criterion Yamaha Portable Shade) who finished fourth at the end of the season; Corbin Lamb (Husqvarna) who was fifth; Thompson’s team-mate, Ross Blackwell, who was seventh; Coetzee’s team-mate, Dylan Barker; who finished eighth and Duncan de Beer (Full Throttle Yamaha), who was fourth in this class at the 2012 ‘Junior Roof’. These riders have all competed in Lesotho last year and their experience will be to their benefit.
Most of the riders who finished in the top 10 in the Senior 85cc Class at the end of the season have moved up to the 125cc Class and can upset the applecart. They include Alastair Drennan (Roost ECS KTM) who finished second behind Bradley Cox after a season long battle (Cox will not be competing in Lesotho) as well as Ladybrand’s Reghardt van Nieuwenhuizen (KTM) who was third in the Senior 85cc class championship. The 125cc Class has produced some close racing last year and predicting results for this event is way too risky.
The Senior 85cc Class, where riders from 13 to 15 years compete on 150cc four-stroke or 105cc two-stroke bikes, has an all new look. There will be a few familiar names including the Junior 85cc champ, Tristan Asher-Wood (KTM) as well as the 2012 runner-up, Calvin Hume (Fast Power Sports Kawasaki) and Keagan Coetzee (Roost ECS KTM) who has recovered from his injuries sustained last year.
They have all moved to this class while Dean Lindsay (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha) and Eduan Bester (Verotest Diamond Trailers Kawasaki), who have both finished in the top ten in this class last year, will be on the same starting grid again. They will have to be on the lookout for a few new names and the combination of champions with some familiar and a few new names, sets the scene for a race where anything can happen.
One of the classes that have grown immensely in the junior category, is the Junior 85cc Class ideal for riders between the ages of eight and 12 where 22 entries have been received for the ‘Junior Roof’. Last year’s top riders have moved to different classes and the new names include a few riders who have outgrown their 65cc motorcycles.
Stefan van Deventer (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha) is the current 65cc Class champion and now competes in the Junior 85cc Class as well as Matthew Green (Kargo Racing KTM) who was the 2012 runner-up. Eric Merry (Nuts Racing Verotest Century Civils KTM) has also moved to this class as well as Troy Sullivan (Yamaha) and Cayle Dormehl (KTM). They have all participated on 65cc-powered bikes in the ‘Junior Roof’ last year and will do so again this year on their bigger motorcycles.
Riders like Michael Glockle (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha); David Odendaal (Pa Ma Racing KTM); Maarten van Jaarsveld (Yamaha); Kayde Mante (KTM) and Barend Pretorius (Team Pesty Racing KTM) remained in this class for another year – Glockle, Odendaal and Van Jaarsveld have all raced in Lesotho last year.
Four brave young riders, all between the ages of seven and 11 years, will tackle the race on their 65cc bikes – Noah Maartens (Pa Ma Racing KTM); Gunter Foit (Carleton Fridge Elec Racing Kawasaki); Blaine Coetzee (Roost ECS KTM) and Max Ledgerwood (Kawasaki) will experience this race for the first time.
Only six quad entries have been received for the ‘Junior Roof’ with Janco Joubert (Honda) and Richard’s Bay’s girl rider, Jade Schutte (Perry Yamaha) who will compete in the junior category.
The runner-up in the 2012 Senior Open Quad Class Championship, Joshua Schenk (Yamaha) finished third at the ‘Junior Roof’ last year and will go for a victory while Brodie Jacobs (Yamaha), who has won his class at the 2012 Lesotho event, has moved up to this class and will try to win again. Berne Bester (Nuts Racing Extreme ATV Diamond Trailers Suzuki) and Shaun Smith (Honda), who crashed at this event last year, will also be on the start line.
The time-trial for the “Junior Roof’ will start at 12:00 on Friday (29 March) and will take place in the Lancer’s Gap area just outside Maseru while the racing action will start at 08:30 on Saturday (30 March) at the Matsieng Football Field. On Saturday junior competitors will tackle their two hour race first while competitors in the senior classes will start their three hour race at 11:30.