LIQUORLAND NATIONAL ENDURO CHAMPIONSHIP TO CONTINUE AFTER FOUR MONTHS’ BREAK
After a break of four months, the Liquorland National Enduro Championship will again regain momentum with the Liquorland National Enduro @ Lydenburg, the fourth round of the series, that will take place this weekend (Saturday, 26 July) in the Lydenburg area in Mpumalanga.
Most competitors did however not sit still during the past four months and participated in various events on national and international level to stay fit. ‘Silly season’ has hit early this year and quite a few changes have taken place during the break. Blake Gutzeit has swopped his Sherco for a Husqvarna and a place in the Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing Team while Brett Swanepoel now forms part of the Proudly Bidvest Yamaha team. His team-mate, Marc Torlage, will compete again after an injury has prevented him from participating in the double-header event at Ashton in March. Former champion, Riaan van Niekerk, has not participated yet this season, but he will be in action with his Husqvarna at Lydenburg.
The various class championships are still wide open and anything can happen during the final three rounds of the Liquorland National Enduro Championship. If anyone wants to catch the defending 200cc champion and overall title holder, Wade Young (Brother KTM), NOW is the right time. Young has won all three the previous rounds and if these results are anything to go by, he might be too far out of reach soon. Young has just returned from Romania where he became the youngest rider ever to finish on the podium (third) at the Red Bull Romaniacs. Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing), who competed in Romania and finished 12th overall, will have a point to prove as he has finished as the runner-up after all three the previous national events and leads the Open Class (E2).
Consistency and three podium positions each resulted in Young’s team-mate, Travis Teasdale, and Swanepoel to trail him by 11 and 13 points respectively. The battle between these three KwaZulu-Natal youngsters will continue at Lydenburg. Brett Lewis (Eddy2Race Husqvarna) fills the fourth place in E1 (he is 10th overall) with Team Liquorland Yamaha’s James Hodson fifth (five points behind the Cape Town rider in E1). The battle between Lewis and Hodson will be on as only one point separate Hodson from Lewis and a place in the top 10.
In E2 Scott Bouverie (Brother KTM) trails De Wet by 11 points (he is third overall) and he would hope to have fully recovered from an injury sustained at the Erzberg Rodeo event in June in Austria. He is only four points ahead of Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) – Gilbert is fourth overall, four points behind Bouverie – and will also have a point or two to prove. Bouverie’s team-mate, Louwrens Mahoney, has his eye on the E2 podium (he is fourth and four points separate him from Gilbert) and would like to get into the overall top five – two points separate him from Teasdale in the fifth place overall.
Swanepoel has had a few close battles with Mahoney this year with split seconds separating them. He now trails the former champ by only four points on the overall standings and is seventh overall and only five points ahead of Gutzeit who recently finished in the top 10 after his first Red Bull Romaniacs attempt. Both KZN youngsters would like to present their new teams with some silverware while they will aim for the maximum points.
Kargo Racing Yamaha’s Charan Moore has worked himself into the ninth place on the overall standings (he is sixth in E2, four points behind fifth-placed Gutzeit) while his team-mates, Timmy Young and teenager Ross Blackwell are 15th and 23rd respectively. Only a handful of points separate the riders from 12th place overall (Brandon Warwick-Oliver on his Honda) and the standings can look totally different after the Lydenburg event.
Riders like Torlage; Mark Garland (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing); Damien Scott (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha) and Kyle Flanagan (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM) can throw a spanner in the wheels in the E1 Class while Van Niekerk; Wynand Badenhorst (Raceworx KTM) and Dwayne Kleynhans (Leadertread Racing KTM), who has also participated in the recent Red Bull Romaniacs event, will aim for good results in E2.
A serious battle has been raging in the Senior Class Championship where only nine points separate the top three where the defending champion, William ‘Wild Will’ Gillitt (Team Liquorland Yamaha) will aim for a third victory to strengthen his lead of only four points ahead of Hilton Hayward (Yamaha). Hayward has not yet won this season, but three runner-up positions have secured his second place. He will however have to look over his shoulder as Bruce May (Yamaha), who has a 2014 victory behind his name, trails him by a mere five points and is looking to better his current position.
Consistent results have placed Jody Engelbrecht (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM) in fourth place while Stephen Landman (Team Liquorland Yamaha) rounds off the top five.
If there is one defending champion that will be back with a vengeance, it is Proudly Bidvest Yamaha’s Denzil Torlage who is currently second behind Alfie Cox (KTM). Cox has taken three victories already and is nine points ahead of Torlage who had to settle for three runner-up results this season. Shaun Kirk (Beta Racing SA) is third, but only three points ahead of Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Garth Prost who will aim for a third consecutive podium result. Richard Cunniffe (Yamaha) rounds off the top five, but Gary Franks (Husqvarna) is a single point behind him while Carl Rohrbeck (KTM) is one point behind Franks. One can expect these standings to change if any rider put a wheel wrong…
The High School Class Championship has delivered some great racing action and the young enduro riders between the ages of 14 and 16 have really stepped up their game. After taking a double victory at Ashton, Eduan Bester (NUTS Racing / Century Civils KTM) has taken the lead in this championship, but second-placed Chayse Orsmond (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM) has also claimed a victory and is only three points behind. Their competition might be from riders who will be scoring points for the first time this season.
Dylan Barker (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha) has made a clean sweep in the Silver Class Challenge and will aim for even more victories. Sage McGregor (KTM) trails him by 13 points after being on the podium three times and will again aim for victory. Bloemfontein youngsters Behan Boshoff (KTM) and Christiaan Greeff (KTM) might possibly bang bars for a podium position as they are currently fourth and fifth respectively, but Reghardt van Nieuwenhuizen, who is third in the Silver Class Challenge, is still recovering from an injury.
Lady riders Kirsten Landman (Brother KTM), who has finished Red Bull Romaniacs in the Bronze Category and Toni Jardine (KTM), who has competed in numerous World Enduro Championship events recently, will also be in action.