PREVIEW : LIQUORLAND NATIONAL WINTERBERG ENDURO
- 27 September – Patensie (Eastern Cape)
- WILL LIQUORLAND NATIONAL WINTERBERG ENDURO SEE NEW WINNERS?
It is that time of the Liquorland National Enduro Championship when competitors have to travel to Patensie in the Gamtoos Valley in the Eastern Cape to tackle the Liquorland National Winterberg Enduro, the fifth and penultimate round of the 2014 series that takes place on Saturday (6 September) and while they will enjoy the route and the scenic surroundings, they will also aim to bag the maximum amount of points towards the various class championships.
With four of the six rounds of the Liquorland National Enduro Motorcycle Championship already done, there are only two events remaining to aim for the 2014 national titles and anything can still happen in all the classes. It will also be interesting to see if the defending title holder and E1 (200cc) Champion, Wade Young (Brother KTM) will add a fourth victory to his list or if ‘The Winterberg’, now without the sponsorship of Castrol, will crown a new race winner.
Young leads Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) on the overall standings by 11 points (De Wet claimed three consecutive E2 Open Class victories and overall runner-up positions) with the only other race winner so far this season, Louwrens Mahoney (Brother KTM) 13 points behind De Wet. All three riders have won ‘The Winterberg’ before and will no doubt like to do so again as this will not only look good on their victory lists, but it will be beneficial to their title onslaughts.
Brother KTM team-mates, Scott Bouverie and Travis Teasdale, are only five points behind Mahoney on the overall standings where they are sharing the same amount of points. Bouverie has however moved to the E2 class this season and despite an injury and getting to grips with the bigger and more powerful bike, he trails Mahoney by only one point in the E2 Championship while Teasdale is a bit further (14 points) behind Young in the E1 Championship. The two youngsters will have to be on the lookout for Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who has fallen back after experiencing chain problems at the previous event. He is now sixth overall (six points behind the two Brother KTM team-mates) and only three points ahead of this own team-mate, Brett Swanepoel, who still fills the third place in E1 where he trails Teasdale by four points.
Blake Gutzeit is happy in the Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing team and although he might not be able to beat his team-mate (De Wet) at the top of the E2 Championship, he is aiming to better his eighth place overall and can pick up a place or two in E2 (he is fifth in E2) if anything happens to the riders ahead of him. Kargo Yamaha Racing team-mates, Charan Moore and Tim Young (this event is in his back yard and he will aim for a good performance in front of him home crowd), currently fills the sixth and ninth places in E2 while Liquorland Yamaha Racing’s Nick Wade is seventh followed by Roan Lindsay (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha) and Dwayne Kleynhans (Leadertread KTM) rounding off the top 10 in E2.
Wade’s teammate, James Hodson, is standing his man in E1 where he is fifth, a single point behind Brett Lewis (Eddy 2 Race Husqvarna) who would like to better his result at the most recent national event. Lewis, Hodson and Brandon Warwick-Oliver (Honda) are being separated by only two points and there will be no room for error if they would like to keep the current status quo. Louw Schmidt (Brother KTM) is seventh in E1 (five points behind the Honda rider) with scholar Henco Botha (KTM) on a high after a great result at the recent Lydenburg event result and now only two points behind Schmidt. Kyle Flanagan (TLB Plant Hire Alfie Cox Racing KTM) is currently ninth in E1, but will not be in action due to a broken collar bone and Kyle Erasmus (Yamaha) can move past him – and so can former champion, Marc Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who is back in action after injuries and currently three points behind Erasmus in 11th place.
Although the overall positions are only used to determine the race numbers for the next season, it will be interesting to see how the current standings will look after the Liquorland National Winterberg Enduro. Lewis has dropped from 10th to 11th after the Lydenburg event and is five points behind Hodson in 10th while Warwick-Oliver trails Lewis by a mere point. Kleynhans is 13th (he did not score points at both the Ashton National Enduros) – four points behind Warwick-Oliver and four points ahead of Botha who are sharing the same amount of points with Torlage and Schmidt. A shuffle in the overall standings is therefore not impossible.
It looks like defending Senior Class Champion, William ‘Wild Will’ Gillitt (Liquorland Yamaha Racing) is in control after claiming three victories so far this season and leading the standings. He is however not safe yet as four runner-up results for Hilton Hayward (Yamaha) puts him only seven points behind the multiple champion and this is too close for comfort. Bruce May (Yamaha) – the only other winner this year – is again only seven points behind Hayward and a little bit of bad luck for any of the top three, can result in a major turn-around. May has a comfortable breathing space to Gillitt’s team-mate, Stephen Landman, in fourth place while it seems that Jody Engelbrecht might keep his fifth place even though he has not entered the Winterberg event.
The off-road competitor and former winner of the Castrol Winterberg Enduro from Port Elizabeth, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother KTM) has also entered. It will be his first national enduro for the season. Van Rooyen leads the Senior Class in the national off-road championship after four victories. He will now aim for a good enduro result on home turf, but will play it safe as the fight for the off-road title is not over yet.
In the Master Class Championship, the multiple Castrol Winterberg Enduro winner (he has won it 10 times) and former champion, Alfie Cox (KTM) will again tackle this event after many years. He might not be able to win it again as competitors in the Senior and Master Classes do not complete the full race distance, but Cox will aim for his fifth consecutive victory this season. He is on his way to topple the multiple Master Class Champion, Denzil Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) from this throne that he has occupied since the inception of the Master Class Championship in 2010. Torlage will however not go down without a fight and a victory can be on the cards for him while he can still pass the former Dakar Rally competitor if he puts a wheel wrong.
Shaun Kirk (Beta Liqui Moly) is currently third after four consistent fourth places, but he will have to keep an eye on Garth Prost (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) who is only one point behind him in fourth place. Richard Cunniffe (Yamaha) is not too safe in fifth place either as he is only two points ahead of Gary Franks (Husqvarna) who is again only two points ahead of Carl Rohrbeck (KTM) with Eric Alcaraz a mere four points further adrift.
The High School Class Championship has received a healthy amount of entries, but the battle to watch will be between the class leader, Chayse Orsmond (TLB Plant Hire Alfie Cox Racing) and Eduan Bester (NUTS Racing Century Civils KTM). Both youngsters have claimed two victories each and only two points are separating them. Dean Lindsay’s (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha) season did not start well, but two runner-up results put him in third place with Carl-Reinhardt Cronje fourth and Orsmond’s team-mate, Daniël van Zyl, rounding off the top five.
Dylan Barker (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha) has continued his clean sweep in the Silver Class Challenge with a fourth straight victory at Lydenburg while second-placed Sage McGregor (KTM) has had some trouble and could not finish on the podium for the first time this season. He has however kept his second place in the standings, but he is only three points ahead of the Bloemfontein scholar, Behan Boshoff (KTM) with another Bloemfontein scholar, Christiaan Greeff (KTM) again only three points further behind in fourth place.
The Liquorland National Winterberg Enduro will consist of two loops with a total of 91 kilometres. There will be three Special Stages – one of 2,5km; another of three kilometres and a third of six kilometres and E1 and E2 competitors will post their fastest race times at nine Special Stages. All the action will happen from the Patensie Citrusfees Stoor (33’45.329 S, 24’48.626 E) in Patensie. More information available on dirtracing.co.za