FIRST NATIONAL BIKE VICTORY FOR GILBERT – BARAGWANATH WON QUADS AT ROUND TWO
Exciting and nail biting racing action at the Rock Blend Offroad saw Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) clinching his first national victory when he won the motorcycle category of the 180 kilometre race that formed the second round of the SA National Off-road Championship. There was also a first victory this season for former quad champion, Brian Baragwanath (Lonestar PEP BB Motorsport Yamaha) who won the quad category after having to work his up from the middle of the field.
Gilbert was one of the eight starters on the first row after finishing third at the previous national event. He settled in behind Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Broadlink KTM) who set a blistering pace, but a problem with Mahoney’s front shock absorber on the second of the three loops saw him loosing time and positions. He had to settle for seventh place on the overall standings (sixth in OR1/Open Class). Gilbert, who won OR1, shared the podium with Ruan Roberts (Yamaha – OR1) and Michael Pentecost (Kargo Racing Yamaha) who finished third and claimed OR3 (200cc). It was a first podium visit for both Roberts and Pentecost – he finished fourth at the first event – while it was Pentecost’s second class victory this season.
On four wheels Baragwanath (Q1 championship) started on the 11th row (the quads started in pairs) and chased the frontrunners in the dust. He made up time despite a flat tyre even though he was not leading on the road and took the lead from Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support – Q1) on the last lap where the route was altered due to a muddy river crossing that became impassable. Meyer, who won the opening race, had two flat tyres on the first lap and was in a tight battle with John Aylward (Yamaha – Q1) and Jacques Struwig (Boesman Racing Suzuki). Meyer finished second with Aylward third (Struwig was 23rd and third in the Senior Class after he experienced battery problems on the last lap).
Dust, a demanding route and tough competition tested the 125 national motorcycle competitors and 69 quads and riders were separated by seconds. Dino do Amaral (Factory Racing KTM – Q1) was fourth in the quad category with Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) winning Q2 for riders older than 28 years and rounding off the top five. He was only 17 seconds faster than youngster Mike Wagner (Sabcool KTM – Q1) who finished sixth. Wagner’s team-mate, Matthew Barnard (both are former junior champions), was a minute behind him with Danie Erasmus (Suzuki – Q1) eighth. Jaco Moller (Extreme ATV Tzaneen Suzuki – Q1), the 2012 junior champion, dropped from the top five back to ninth place due to electrical problems and Enrico da Silva (Suzuki – Q1) rounded off the top ten after competing on national level for the first time in some years.
There was even closer racing in the motorcycle category where less than a minute separate the four riders just off the podium. Privateer JC de Bruin (Yamaha – OR1) was fourth, 16 seconds faster than both Altus de Wet (Husqvarna Racing – OR1) and Chris Webster (Micks Motorcycles Yamaha – OR1) who posted the exact same time. Mahoney (OR1) was 41 seconds behind Webster and was followed by his two team-mates, Riaan van Niekerk who won OR2 (250cc) after he started on row five and Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (OR1) who got tangled up in a fence early in the race. Only one second separated Van Niekerk and Van Rooyen. Timothy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) rounded off the top 10 (he was second in OR2) – he was only 26 seconds slower than fellow Port Elizabeth rider (Van Rooyen).
The battles were raging in the different class championships – in OR2 Vincent Crosbie (Naledi Motors Wesbank Racing KTM) finished third (he won this class at the season opener) while Marc Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) claimed the second spot in OR3 behind Pentecost with Renier Kotze (Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD) third. Husqvarna Racing claimed their first national off-road class victory with Estiaan Steenkamp winning OR4 (Under 21). Wilhelm Schonfeldt (Helderberg Yamaha) was second with Jan Human (KTM) third.
Wayne Farmer (LCP Racing Gas Gas) and defending Senior Class champion, Guy Henley (Kawasaki) continued their 2012 battle with Farmer returning to the top spot when he beat Henley by 31 seconds in the motorcycle category. Justin Broughton (KTM) rounded off this podium and pushed Ian Venter (Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD) to fourth place with 35 seconds separating the two riders. Garth Prost (KTM) finished fifth.
On four wheels, former Senior Class champion, Paul Chomse, put his Yamaha Banshee on the top step again when he beat Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki). Struwig (third) was followed by Charles Lee (Batt Tyres Suzuki) and Jaco Joubert (Quad Revolution Can-Am).
All the competitors had to complete the full race distance. That included the Master Class entrants who only do half distance at the longer off-road events. Here Vicus Breedt (Suzuki) beat former Master Class quad champion, Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support) who lost time getting stuck in mud with Tony dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) third. Jan Berning (Just Sell Properties KTM) won this class on two wheels from Martin Poole (Yamaha) and Nicholas Kirk (Yamaha).
Only 94 seconds separated the podium finishers in the Silver Class Challenge of the motorcycle category where the winner of the previous race, scholar Mauritz Meiring (McGee Yamaha) had to settle for third place, two seconds behind another youngster MJ Potgieter (Roost ECS KTM) with Gavin Cowley (Bikefin KTM) winning this time. Junior quad rider, Berne Bester (Nuts Racing Suzuki) claimed his first victory of the season with Christiaan Nel (CHM Carriers Suzuki) somewhat behind in second place and Heinrich van Gessellen (PS Storm Racing KTM) third after he lost his early lead due to mechanical problems.
Liezel Barnard (Barnard Vervoer Racing Can-Am) won the Ladies Quad Class ahead of Adi du Plessis (Evolution Racing Suzuki) while the previous race winner, Chardri Monk (Thesen’s Generators KTM) could not finish as she ran out of fuel.
Toni Jardine (Roost ECS KTM) triumphed in this class on two wheels and was followed by Nanda Swiegers (KTM) and Kirsten Landman (Brother Broadlink KTM) who finished third despite a broken toe. Taye Perry (Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD) was fourth after crashing quite hard.
Competitors in the 2013 national championship now have until the 20th June to prepare for the only marathon event on the calendar, The Mantshwabisi that will take place on 20 and 21 June in Botswana. This race will form the third and fourth rounds of the championship and will test the riders over two days and almost a thousand kilometres.