YOUNG OFF-ROAD COMPETITORS CONQUERED TESTING ‘JUNIOR ROOF’ IN LESOTHO MOUNTAINS
Rainy weather conditions turned the ‘Junior Roof’ off-road race, the opening round of the 2013 Junior National Championship that took place in Lesotho, into a slippery and muddy race where young riders had to perservere to receive the chequered flag. Class winners and finishers worked hard for their first points of the season and the high level of competition predicts an exciting year for young riders between the ages of seven and 17.
Competitors had to complete a short 21 kilometre time-trial on Friday (29 March) that determined the starting order for Saturday’s race (30 March) in the Matsieng area outside Maseru. The current 125cc champion, Travis Teasdale (Husaberg Alfie Cox Racing) posted the fastest time in the senior category of the race and was the fastest in the Open Motorcycle Class, but disaster struck on the second of the three 33 kilometre loops when mechanical problems stopped him in his tracks while he was leading the rest and he had to call it a day.
Damien Scott (Criterion Yamaha Portable Shade) repeated his Lesotho result of last year when he won in the Open Class beating his team-mate, Kyle Flanagan, by a mere 41 seconds after racing for almost three hours in pouring rain. Heavy mist and some hail in the mountains made the lives of the riders even more difficult. The KwaZulu-Natal podium in the Open Class was rounded off by Ryan van Munster (Yamaha) and newcomer, Jason Jones (Alfie Cox Racing KTM). Dirk Swanepoel (Yamaha) was rewarded with fifth place after having to fight from the back due to mechanical problems during the time-trial.
Also in the top ten was newcomer Mauritz Meiring (McGee Yamaha) who finished sixth; Tyler Robins (Yamaha) who was seventh and Eamonn Sullivan (Yamaha) who finished eighth after also having to start at the back of the field. He crashed early in the time-trial and could not post a qualifying time, but raced despite still hurting from his bruises. Craig Wishart (Diamond Trailers Racing KTM) finished ninth in his first ‘Junior Roof’ attempt albeit with a broken subframe on his bike and Matatiele’s Henco Botha (Pa Ma Racing Kawasaki) rounded off the top ten after having to race two laps with flat tyres.
Scott’s team-mate, Dylan Barker (both are from Kokstad), clinched his first national victory when he won the 125cc Class where the competition was as tough. His team-mate from Port Elizabeth, Angus Coetzee, was second and sandwiched between the KZN riders as Cullim Symons (Yamaha) rounded off the 125cc Motorcycle Class podium. Aeron Thompson (Yamaha) was the leading Kargo Racing rider and finished fourth – his team-mates, Ross Blackwell and Dylan McGovern, finished eighth and 11th respectively with McGovern, who returned to the sport after a year-long break, losing time when he had to push his bike to the fuel stop after he ran out of fuel on the second lap.
Alex O’Donnell (Criterion Yamaha Portable Shade) was fifth and Duncan de Beer (Full Throttle Racing Yamaha) finished sixth with Reghardt van Nieuwenhuizen (KTM) producing the best result of the riders who have moved up from the Senior 85cc Class. He finished seventh; David Matthews (KTM) was ninth with Corbin Lamb rounding off the top ten after a scary experience where his Husqvarna fell down a cliff. It took six riders to get it back onto the road and Lamb was luckily not injured.
The ‘Junior Roof’ was a real challenge for the younger riders on the smaller motorcycles, but they braved the weather conditions and conquered the slippery rocks. Only three riders in the Senior 85cc Class could manage to finish all three loops with Dean Lindsay (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha) winning from Keagan Coetzee (Roost ECS KTM) who had to dig deep to score his first podium position in this class. Both Lindsay and Coetzee moved up from from the Junior 85cc Class. Eduan Bester (Century Civils Verotest Kawasaki) was third after he tackled the race from the back due to time lost when he drowned his bike during the time-trial.
The 2012 Junior Champion, Tristin Asher-Wood (KTM) has also moved to the senior category and finished fourth with newcomer, Daniel van Zyl (KTM), rounding off the top five.
Competitors in the junior category tackled the 2013 ‘Junior Roof’ race first and in sunny conditions during the morning. They had to complete a shorter 21 kilometre loop four times in their allotted two hours. Kayde Mante (KTM) led from start to finish to win the Junior 85cc Class with David Odendaal (Pa Ma Racing KTM), who took a tumble during time-trial, just under two minutes behind in second place.
Twenty riders between the ages of eight and 12 years, including young competitors who have moved up from the Junior 65cc Class, started the ‘Junior Roof’ in this class. The 2012 runner-up of the 65cc Class, Matthew Green (Kargo Racing KTM), finished third after he crashed on the last lap with the 2012 65cc Class champion, Stefan van Deventer (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha) fourth – he qualified second, but fell a few times. Rory Lutz (Kawasaki) was fifth.
Two more riders managed to complete four loops with Eric Mclean (KTM) sixth and Erik Merry (Verotest Century Civils KTM) seventh. Also in the top ten was newcomer Ryan Pelser (KTM) who competed in only his second off-road race and finished eighth with Maarten van Jaarsveld (Yamaha) ninth and Troy Sullivan (Yamaha) showing the shame determination than his big brother (Eamonn) to finish the race. He was 10th.
All four entrants in the Junior 65cc Class (riders between seven and 11 years) finished the race with the podium finishers all completing three laps. Noah Maartens (Pa Ma Racing KTM) took the victory (he crashed during the time-trial, but still finished to post a qualifying time) and was followed by Keagan’s younger brother, Blaine Coetzee (Roost ECS KTM) who competed in his first Junior National Off-road race. Max Ledgerwood (Kawasaki) rounded off the podium with Gunter Foit (Carlton Fridge Elec Racing Kawasaki) fourth who finished despite falling and damaging his bike during the race.
There were only two entrants in the Senior Open Quad Class where Berné Bester (Nuts Racing Extreme ATV Diamond Trailers Suzuki) beat Brodie Jacobs (Yamaha). Jade Schutte (Perry Yamaha) competed in the Junior Open Quad Class and completed one lap after drowning her quad. Local rider Samuel Hlutwa (Yamaha) was second. Rethabile Khomari (Yamaha) won the Junior Modified Quad Class with Tlali Moleko (Yamaha) second.
The second round of the 2013 Junior National Championship will take place on 25 May at Rysmierbult in the Carltonville / Ventersdorp area in the North-West Province. This race will also form the second round of the PS Portable Shade GOC Junior Club Series.