WADE YOUNG (18) WINS THE RACE, THE E1 TITLE AND NUMBER ONE PLATE FOR 2014
Wade Young (Brother KTM) rounded the 2014 Liquorland National Enduro Championship off with yet another overall win and class victory when he won the Liquorland Matatiele WFO National Enduro that took place at Matatiele in the Eastern Cape. This was his fifth overall victory and sixth E1 Class Championship win this season resulting in him retaining the Number One plate for the second consecutive year while he has also claimed the E1 (200cc) Championship again.
The Liquorland Matatiele WFO National Enduro was described by most competitors as being tough, but really enjoyable. The organisers have gone out of their way to design four Special Stages on the 48 kilometre loop and E1 and E2 (Open Class) competitors had to post their fastest times at 15 stages in total. The stages consisted of a really enjoyable sandy stage (probably the most popular under competitors); a longer Enduro Special (they raced this 8km special three times) as well as an Extreme Special that took them over a few rocky koppies and a motocross stage close to the pits where spectators could get close to the racing action.
Young’s team-mate, Travis Teasdale, took the early lead in the race after winning the first Extreme Stage. A tight battle continued at the front between the two Brother KTM scholars and the defending E2 champion, Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing). De Wet went into the race as the overall runner-up behind Young and leading the E2 standings while Teasdale, who claimed his first overall podium result at the Matatiele event last year, was aiming to finish the season on the podium.
The pressure was on and a fast pace was set with only seconds separating the riders. While this was their last chance to earn points towards the various class championships and overall standings, many competitors had to race with special care as they will be participating in the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Argentina as well as the Roof of Africa in December in Lesotho. After his crash in the first stage and breaking the rear brake pedal off later in the race, Young went on to win 13 of the 15 Special Stages with De Wet also claiming a victory. De Wet claimed his fifth E2 and fourth runner-up result and won the E2 Class Championship for the second consecutive year. Teasdale did what he aimed to – after claiming the third place at Matatiele (he was second in the E1 Class), he finished his first full season in the ‘senior’ enduro championship series in the third place overall.
Behind them only seconds separated Proudly Bidvest Yamaha team-mates, Brett Swanepoel (E1) and Kenny Gilbert (E2) at most stages. Like De Wet, Swanepoel would also leave for the ISDE the day after the Matatiele race and a tumble over the handle bars (De Wet also experienced one of those!) and lost time did not form part of his plan. Swanepoel eventually rounded off the E1 podium (he also finished third in the E1 Championship for the season after changing bikes and teams halfway through the year) and pipped Gilbert, who finished second behind De Wet in E2, by only 29 points at Matatiele.
Louwrens Mahoney, Young’s team-mate and the only other overall and E2 Class winner this year, rounded off the E2 podium and finished seventh overall with Paddock scholar, Kyle Flanagan (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM) fourth in E2 (11th overall) and Nick Wade (Team Liquorland Yamaha Racing) fifth (he finished 12th overall).
In E1 Dwayne Kleynhans (Leadertread KTM) posted yet another solid result with a fourth place (he was sixth overall) while James Hodson (Team Liquorland Yamaha Racing) rounded off the top five in the class and finished eighth overall.
The season long battle in the Senior Class reached boiling point at Matatiele with the multiple defending champion, William Gillitt (Team Liquorland Yamaha Racing) leading the suspension guru, Hilton Hayward (Yamaha) by a mere two points going into the final round. Gillitt came out with guns blazing to claim his fourth win of the season and secured his sixth consecutive Senior Class Championship title. Hayward, who has not been competitively racing for several years, scored his fifth runner-up result this season to ensure his second place for the year. Bruce May (Yamaha) finished just behind Hayward at Matatiele.
Gillitt’s team-mate, Steven Landman, finished fourth with Laurence Truter (KTM) fifth; Peter Jung (KTM) sixth and Chris Lindhorst (KTM) seventh after a testing event.
The veteran enduro and off-road competitor and multiple former champion, Alfie Cox (KTM) can now add the Master Class Championship title to his long list of achievements. Cox has won the Master Class at all six rounds of the 2014 series after not competing in the national enduro series for many years. Defending champion, Denzil Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) finished as the runner-up after each race this year and after winning the Master Class Championship title for a record of five consecutive years (he has won this class several times before 2010, but the class did not have national championship status) Cox will now be crowned as the new champion.
Younger enduro competitors could learn from following the epic battle between these two respected and well-known veteran racers who were not only an example of professional racers, but they compete as they enjoy enduro motorcycle racing.
Riders in the Master Class (for riders older than 46 years of age) compete mostly for the enjoyment of technical enduro racing and while they cannot always win, they did not give up. Richard Cunniffe (Yamaha) claimed his first podium result this season by finishing third at Matatiele with Shaun Kirk (Beta Liqui Moly Racing SA) finishing in the fourth place for the sixth time this year.
The battle for the final overall Master Class podium position for 2014 was between Kirk and Garth Prost (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) and the way the cookie crumbled, it was Kirk who claimed the third podium spot for the year. Prost finished fifth at Matatiele, but a 10th place in class at the season opener, resulted in him having to settle for the fourth place overall for the season despite finishing on the podium four times during the season. Carl Rohrbeck (KTM) was sixth at Matatiele and was followed by Dino Santoro (Beta); Gary Franks (Husqvarna) and Eric Alcaraz (KTM).
The new High School Class Championship had the nerves all tangled up at the final race. Three victories for Eduan Bester (NUTS Racing / Century Civils KTM) resulted in him leading Chayse Orsmond (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM), who has also won twice this season and finished on the podium three more times, by a mere two points. Orsmond won the battle with a class victory at Matatiele, but Bester (he finished second) ended up winning the war by claiming the first High School Class Championship title. The two youngsters finished the season with the same amount of points AND the same amount of wins, but Bester scored more second places than Orsmond.
Carl-Reinhardt Cronje (KTM) rounded off the podium at Matatiele with the two Castling-Bolt brothers, Jordan and Daniel (TLB Plant Hire), racing their KTM’s to the fourth and fifth places respectively.
In the Silver Class Challenge, the scholar Dylan Barker from the neighbouring town, Kokstad, rounded off a perfect season with his sixth victory after six rounds. His Pa Ma Racing Yamaha team-mate, Lloyd Kirk, from Matatiele finished second in front of his home crowd. They were followed by three Bloemfontein youngsters – Behan Boshoff (KTM), Jaco Kruger (KTM) and Christiaan Greeff (KTM) with Greeff claiming the third place for the season behind Sage McGregor (KTM) whose sixth place was enough to ensure him the second place behind Barker for the year.
The Liquorland Matatiele WFO National Enduro event received many compliments from competitors, support crews and spectators. Many enduro riders are now entering the final phase of training and preparation for the 2015 Roof of Africa that will take place in December in Lesotho.
The Liquorland National Enduro Championship will resume early in 2015 and more exciting enduro motorcycle racing can be expected.