MEDALS, EXPERIENCE FOR TEAM SOUTH AFRICA AFTER SIX DAYS OF ENDURO RACING IN ARGENTINA
The members of the two South African enduro motorcycle teams who represented the country at the 89th International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) that took place at San Juan in Argentina (3 – 8 November 2014), have returned with three medals and lots of experience they will apply when returning to this gruelling global event in the future.
It has been a tough six days for the World Trophy Team (five members) and Junior World Trophy Team (four members) of who and seven of the nine competing members took the ISDE on for the very first time. Their youth (eight members were younger than 30 and three of the Junior World Trophy riders were only 16 years old) and lack of ISDE experience did, however, not hold them back and they were rewarded with three medals – two silver and a bronze – for their efforts.
It was not easy as the team ‘lost’ two members after only the very first day with Albert Pos (KTM) – he became part of the World Trophy Team as a late replacement for Nick Pienaar – who was time-barred after six tough special stages while lady rider, Toni Jardine (23), who formed part of the Junior World Trophy Team, completed the day albeit with a knee injury and was advised by the medical team not to continue racing.
The second day saw some problems for Bradley Cox, 16-year old son of four times ISDE gold medallist, Alfie Cox, who not only replaced the radiator on his KTM 125cc, but he had to replace the clutch as well. Cox currently lives in Belgium and ocmpetes in international motocross racing – he formed part of the SA Junior World Trophy Team. More than a 110 entrants of the initial 350 competitors would like to forget the third day of the 2014 ISDE described by experienced officials as ‘the worst day they have seen in the ISDE competition’. The fine ‘fesh-fesh’ (powder dust) caused havoc and four South African competitors were forced to call it a day due to mechanical problems caused by the dust.
The 19-year old Brett Swanepoel (Yamaha) competed internationally for the first time and was part of the World Trophy Team. He was the leading SA rider after three days, but after completing the third day, his motorcycle’s engine seized and he could not fix it. Cox was also halted by mechanical issues as was the 16-year old Daniel van Zyl who had to leave his KTM in the desert. Van Zyl spent about three hours in the desert in the shade he improvised by throwing his clothes over a bush while some riders stopped and gave him some water. Alfie Cox found him and the team recovered his bike the next day.
Despite the demise of their team members, the three remaining members of the team showed real grit and determination to complete the last three days’ racing and claimed a medal each. Altus de Wet (29) has competed in many extreme enduro events across the globe, but was competing in the ISDE for the first time. He finished ninth in the E3 Class and was 38th overall while Marc Torlage (25), who has competed in the ISDE before, was 48th overall and 14th in E1 – he suffered from a painful tooth abscess from before the race and could only have it properly treated upon his arrival in South Africa.
It was only the second time 16-year old Brendan Swanevelder competed internationally (he completed the Red Bull Sea to Sky in Turkey earlier this year), but he stood his man with his Husqvarna in the Junior World Trophy class and won a bronze medal.
The SA World Trophy Team finished 10th in its category while the Junior World Trophy team was placed ninth on the final results.
The ISDE differs from other competitions as only the competitors are allowed to work on their racing machines while they have to complete the race with certain marked parts on their bikes which they cannot replace during the race. This year competitors completed almost a thousand kilometres that excluded the total race distances of the 28 special stages and the motocross stage on the final day. The riders spent an average of about six hours in the saddle for the first five days.
Although South Africa has a few strong and competitive enduro motorcycle competitions and an extremely competitive national enduro championship, it is quite clear that the World Enduro Championship (WEC) riders are much more experienced and used to the international competition. The SA teams and support crews have gained lots of valuable experience at the ISDE in Argentina and will apply it in the future.
Hats off to Team SA who flew the flag in South America.
Team South Africa competed with the support of Motorsport SA; Portable Shade; Powasol; Alfie Cox Racing and BelRay.