MORE NATIONAL OFF-ROAD VICTORIES FOR ROSS BRANCH AND BRIAN BARAGWANATH AT STELLA
The Botswana off-road motorcycle rider, Ross Branch (Brother KTM) and Pretoria quad rider, Brian Baragwanath (Team Rhide SA Yamaha) became the first winners of the inaugural Vryburg Stella 400 national off-road that was held at Stella in the North West Province. Baragwanath has now been victorious in the quad cateogry at all four rounds of the 2014 SA National Off-road Championship while Branch has been on the top step of the podium in the motorcycle category for the second consecutive race.
The dry and dusty 360 kilometre race proved to be quite challenging with tight battles raging in the various class championships. The race also seemed to be just a few kilometres too long as motorcycle competitors Tim Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha); Nicholas Pienaar (Roost KTM) and Bruce Viljoen (Sandstorm Racing Husqvarna) all experienced problems on the very last of the race’s six 60km laps and had to call it a day. Young was running in the top five when a hole caused by a sharp object in his Yamaha’s radiator forced him out of the race while Pienaar, who has not been racing for several months due to injuries, experienced possible fuel pump problems with about 30 kilometres to go to the finish.
For Branch, the race included something of everything and riders could not afford a lapse in concentration. Behind him his team-mate, Louwrens Mahoney, lost time when he picked up wire he had to remove from his bike. He was then entwined in a race-long battle with the defending champion, Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who had to settle for third place when the former champion overtook him on the last lap when he crashed twice. Mahoney then chased Branch and eventually finished only six seconds behind the Botswana rider. He was second behind Branch in the OR1 (Open Class) Championship with Gilbert picking up the final podium position in OR1.
On four wheels the defending champion, Jurie ‘Botter’ Meyer (Yamaha Race Support), who could not complete the previous two national races, was the thirteenth quad off the start line, but he hunted Baragwanath down and finished second (two minutes 19 seconds down) despite a flat tyre and removing wire from his quad. Fellow Polokwane rider, André du Plessis (Yamaha) was riding hard in second place, but had to call it a day due to a broken frame. The Tzaneen teenager, Jaco Moller (PS Extreme ATV Tzaneen Yamaha) raced consistently to claim his second national podium result this season. Baragwanath, Meyer and Moller also claimed the podium positions in the Q1 Championship.
André Park (Yamaha) fought his way open to fourth place overall (he was also fourth in Q1) with David Hollis (Yamaha) rounding off the overall top five as well as the Q1 Championship. Stuart Freeman (PS Diamond Trailers Yamaha) finished only 15 seconds behind Hollis to claim his third Senior Class victory with his team-mate and the Senior Class leader, Russell Ferreira (Honda), finishing second in the class and eighth overall. Jaco Venter (Honda) missed the last two national races, but made up for it by finishing seventh overall (sixth in Q1) with Paul dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) ninth overall and third in the Senior Class and Hannes Annandale (Boesman Racing Suzuki) 10th overall and the Q2 winner.
The race took its toll on the quad competitors and only three more Q1, Q2 and Senior Class riders managed to complete the full race distance with Hannes Saaijman (Team Rhide SA Suzuki) finishing second in Q2 and 11th overall after numerous problems with fuses; Peter Walter (PS Diamond Trailers Yamaha) was 12th overall and fourth in the Senior Class and Ted Barbier (Yamaha) the third of the Team Rhide SA riders home and fifth in the Senior Class Championship.
The battles in the motorcycle classes continued to the end. Brother KTM team-mates, Tyron Miller, who crashed early and lost his helmet’s peak, and Louw Schmidt picked up the OR2 (250cc) and OR3 (200cc) class victories and finished fourth and sixth respectively and sandwiched OR1 rider, Dillon Inggs (Kawasaki) who was fifth overall. Only 10 seconds separated Charan Moore (Kargo Racing Yamaha) in seventh place from Roan Lindsay (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha), who clinched the second place behind Miller in OR2, while Hein Junior van Niekerk (RAD MOTO KTM), who rounded off the overall top 10, claimed the third place in OR2. Bernard McGee (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg) was ninth overall and second in OR3 with Taki Bogiages (Team Bert Smith All Stars Racing Powered by RAD KTM*) rounding off the OR3 podium.
Only 13 seconds separated the three riders just outside the top 10 with Estiaan Steenkamp (FAST Powersport Husqvarna) just missing his second consecutive top 10 to finish 11th, seven seconds ahead of Jaycee Nienaber (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha) who was 12th overall and again only six seconds ahead of his team-mate, Darren McLeod. Wade Blaauw (Yamaha) had to see his top 10 result slipping away when he got stuck in mud towards the end of the race. He finished 14th overall with the defending Senior Class champion, Pieter Holl (Bert Smith Racing KTM*) claiming the Senior Class victory for the first time this season and finishing 15th overall.
Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother KTM), who won the Senior Class at the previous three events, had to settle for second place after experiencing problems with a leaking radiator with another former class champion, Guy Henley (KTM Race Worx Racing) rounding off the podium. There were problems late in the race for Ian Venter (RAD MOTO KTM) who had to call it a day during the fifth lap while the KTM of Wayne Farmer seized during the second loop.
Also in the top 20 were Cameron Becker (Mechanibike Yamaha) who finished 16th after all sorts of problems during the day; Jono van Wyk (Brother KTM) who was 17th; Bogiages who finished 18th; Ruan Smith (RAD MOTO KTM) who finished 19th and Jarryd Coetzee (PrintAfford.com Racing Honda) who rounded off the top 20 after surviving a huge crash in the very early stages of the race.
In other championship classes Adrian Storm (Automation Products KTM) claimed his third victory in the Master Class in the motorcycle category with Jan Berning (RAD MOTO KTM) second; Kevern Pelser (KTM) third and Leonard Evans (KTM) fourth. This class in the quad category was won by George Twigge (twigges.com Yamaha) after a close battle with the defending champion, Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Race Support) who finished second. After not finishing the previous event, Tony dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) was back on the podium with Peter Schenk (Team Thesens Generators Honda) fourth and George Michaelides (PS Diamond Trailers Yamaha) rounding off the top five.
The Combined Ladies Class Championship was won by Liezel Barnard (Barnard Vervoer Can-Am) who also claimed the victory in the Ladies Quad Class. Chardri Monk (Team Thesens Generators Yamaha) was second on four wheels and in this new championship with Maryna Venter (Honda quad) third. Taye Perry (Bert Smith Racing KTM*) won the Ladies Class in the motorcycle category with the scholar, Anais Steenkamp (Kawasaki) second. They finished fourth and fifth respectively in the Combined Ladies Class Championship where the results are being calculated by a handicap system.
In the High School Class for young motorcycle riders between the ages of 14 and 16, Brendon Fourie (FAST Powersports Kawasaki) claimed his third victory to stay in the lead of this championship. Eduan Bester (NUTS Racing / Century Civils Yamaha) was second with Cilliers Fourie (KTM) third. Alastair Drennan (Roost KTM) crashed and broke his collarbone while the Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha of Dean Lindsay experienced gearbox problems. Nicholas Mauerberger (PS Diamond Trailers Yamaha) was fourth; Dion Oosthuizen (KTM) finished fifth and Patrick Moore (Honda) was sixth.
Newcomer John-Ross Niemand (Suzuki) won this class on four wheels with the class leader, Ramon Lopez (Sign Wonder Honda) second and local Stella rider, Ruan Stander (Yamaha) third.
Karl Rost clinched his third Silver Class Challenge victory in the quad category with Uitenhage rider, Shaun Mostert (KTM) winning this class for the first time this season on two wheels. Gert van den Berg (KTM) was second with Byron McNeil (Yamaha) third.
The fifth and penultimate round of the National Off-road Championship will take place on 23 August in the Frankfort / Reitz area in the Free State.