PREVIEW : BELL 400 Irvin Bell Memorial Event South African Motorcycling
- 5th Round of the 2013 SA National Off-road Motorcycle & Quad Championship
- 20 July (Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal)
SHUFFLING IN THE STANDINGS CAN CONTINUE AT VRYHEID’S BELL 400
The shuffling in the standings of the 2013 SA National Off-road Motorcycle and Quad Championships after the recent desert race in Botswana will most probably continue at the BELL 400, the fifth round of the national series that takes place this weekend (20 July) in the Vryheid area in KwaZulu-Natal. A few new class leaders emerged at the halfway mark of the season and with only three events left remaining, anything can still happen in the various title chases.
The Yamaha riders, Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest) and Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support) kept their respective leads in the motorcycle and quad categories, but they cannot be assured of the titles yet as those behind them can still catch up. Gilbert is nine points ahead of Dakar Challenge winner, Ruan Roberts (Yamaha) who leads both Michael Pentecost (Kargo Racing Yamaha) and Altus de Wet (Husqvarna Racing) who have the same amount of points. Pentecost is also leading the OR3 (200cc) championship while Gilbert, Roberts and De Wet are first, second and third in the OR1 (Open Class) championship. JC de Bruin (Yamaha) rounds off the top five in the motorcycle category making it two KZN riders (including the Durban scholar, Pentecost) who will be in action in front of their home crowd at the Vryheid event.
John Aylward (Yamaha) from Kokstad represents KZN on the podium in the quad category and is currently filling the third spot after he could not finish the third round in Botswana. He is only six points behind Brian Baragwanath (BB Motorsport Lonestar PEP Yamaha) who claimed his second victory of the season in Botswana and jumped on the podium from where he is trailing the defending title holder by 13 points. Meyer, Baragwanath and Aylward also fill the Q1 championship podium in that order.
Both fourth-placed Rorke Millar (Can-Am Racing) and fifth-placed Freddie Taljaard (CHM Carriers Suzuki) have moved up into the overall top five after consistent results in Botswana. They are being separated by a single point.
After the dust has settled over two days of racing in the desert in Botswana, it was clear that a lot of movement took place in the top 10 standings of the quad category. Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) was third overall and was leading the Q2 standings, but dropped to 10th overall after he could not finish any of the two races in Botswana. He is now second in Q2, three points ahead of Justin Robert (Sign Wonder / Form & Fitness Suzuki) with Oz Osbourne (X Factor Sport Factory Racing Yamaha) the new class leader.
Danie Erasmus (Suzuki) also lost five positions on the overall standings. He dropped from fourth to ninth place after he could only complete the race on the second day while a third place in Botswana lifted Dino do Amaral (Factory Racing KTM) from 12th to seventh place. Do Amaral has the same amount of points than André du Plessis (Yamaha) who shot up the most places – a whopping 23 places from 31st to eighth – after two top five results in Botswana. The overall top five is now within Du Plessis’ reach.
Jacques Struwig (Boesman Racing Suzuki) lost his lead in the Senior Quad Class Championship after he could only finished the second day’s race. He is now third in this class championship and fills the fifth place on the overall standings. Local KZN rider, Paul Chomse (PS Storm Racing Banshee) from Mtubatuba is the new Senior Class leader after solid results in Botswana and he would hope to add a third victory to his list this season. Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki) trails Chomse by 10 points and leads Struwig by 10 points in this championship where Diamond Trailers team-mates, Russell Ferreira (Honda) and Peter Walter (Yamaha) round off the top five.
Only nine points separate the remaining five motorcycle riders in the top 10. Chris Webster (Micks Motorcycles Yamaha) moved up one position to sixth place, but will hope this 380 kilometre event will suit him better. He is only one point ahead of two riders – Nicholas Pienaar (C3 Roost KTM) who bagged a victory in Botswana, but could not finish the second day and Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Broadlink KTM) who posted consistent results. Timmy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) is ninth with the defending title holder, Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Broadlink KTM) who is out of action with a broken ankle, tenth.
The overall standings determine the competitors’ race numbers for the next season, but they are actually chasing the class championships and major titles. Jono van Wyk (Brother Broadlink KTM) is currently 11th overall and can pass his team-mate’s (Mahoney) for a place in the top ten, but more importantly – he has taken the lead in the OR2 (250cc) championship and leads Young by nine points with Dillon Inggs (Naledi Motors Wesbank Racing KTM), who jumped from 11th place in this class to the third place on the podium after good results that included a class victory in Botswana.
In the combined OR3/OR4 championship, Pentecost leads his team-mate, Brandon Youell comfortably while Bernard McGee (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg) has moved from sixth to third place. Louw Schmidt (Brother Broadlink KTM) still leads the OR4 (Under 21) standings from Taki Bogiages (Diamond Trailers KTM) and local KZN rider, Estiaan Steenkamp (Husqvarna Racing) who will now be competing in OR1.
Interesting names of other KZN riders on the entry list include those of enduro specialists, Wade Young (Husaberg Alfie Cox Racing) in OR4 and Scott Bouverie (Brother Broadlink KTM) in OR3 – both have just returned from successfully competing in the Red Bull Romaniacs extreme enduro event in Romania – as well as Brett Swanepoel (JOAT KTM/cc Gallery)
On two wheels the Senior Class championship has also been shuffled and has produced a new leader – Pieter Holl (Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD). The previous leader, Justin Broughton (KTM) has dropped to third place, 17 points behind Wayne Farmer (LCP Racing Gas Gas) who is 22 points behind the leader. All the pressure will be on Holl as Broughton would like his position back while Farmer will also aim for the lead. These points are however still provisional as the Botswana results for this class have not been finalised yet.
The Master Class championship has received only a few entries, but the battle will continue at the front between the leader, Martin Poole (Yamaha) who leads Jan Berning (Just Sell Properties KTM) by a single point with third-placed Leon Gerber (Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD) only nine points behind. On four wheels Jurie Meyer Sr (Yamaha Support) might be leading this championship, but he is not safe yet as second-placed Tony dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) can overtake him if he put a wheel wrong. Peter Schenk (Thesens Generators Honda) has moved from fifth to third place and will keep the front runners in his sight.
Mauritz Meiring (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg) and Berne Bester (NUTS Racing Century Civils Suzuki) continue to lead the Silver Class Challenge on two and four wheels respectively while Liezel Barnard (Barnard Vervoer Can-Am) is still leading the Ladies Quad Class. After two victories in Botswana, Taye Perry (Bert Smith Racing KTM Powered by RAD) has taken the lead in the Ladies Class of the motorcycle category. All these battles will continue at the BELL 400.
At this stage in the championship, one have to keep in mind that the points of only six of the seven events count towards the final standings.
The BELL 400 is being organised by Zululand Motorsport SA who won Best Off-road in 2011 and finished third last season (1.6% behind the winners).
The BELL 400 will start on Saturday 20 July at 08h30 when motorcycle and quad riders tackle two separate loops from the Waverly Farm in the Kambula area outside Vryheid. Competitors will return after each lap to the race venue that will also serve as the central service point and will finish after 380 kilometres there. Spectators are welcome.
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