Mahoney (bikes) and Meyer (quads) won tough off-road race outside Bela Bela
The Vogelstruispan 200 might have been only 180 kilometres long, but it has most probably already earned its place as one of the most demanding races competitors of the 2013 SA National Off-road Motorcycle and Quad Championship will be doing this year. Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Broadlink KTM) and Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support) have showed why they are the defending 2012 title holders of the motorcycle and quad categories respectively when they won their category at this sandy race outside Bela Bela where ruts and whoops tested the fitness and talent of the riders.
Mahoney, who has won all the rounds of the 2012 national championship, admitted that it was a tough race and that his high level of fitness played a major role in his victory. He also commented on the extremely fierce competition this season.
Seven minutes behind him second-placed Nicholas Pienaar (C3 Roost KTM Expert Sol), who also finished second behind Mahoney in OR1 (Open Class), finished a mere 24 seconds ahead of Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) after a race long battle. Seventeen year old Michael Pentecost (Kargo Racing Yamaha) caused a little bit of an upset when he finished fourth (he won the OR3 / 200cc Class) while Altus de Wet provided Husqvarna SA with their first result in the local national off-road championship by finishing fifth overall.
On four wheels Meyer, who also won Q1, claimed the victory, but only 25 seconds separated him from Jacques Struwig (Boesman Racing Suzuki) who now competes in the Senior Class Championship. Fitness also played a role in this category as the rutted track took its toll on competitors. Struwig passed John Aylward (Yamaha), who struggled somewhat with his fitness, just after the halfway mark. Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) won Q2 and finished fourth overall with Stefan Swanepoel (Quad Revolution Honda) a mere six seconds behind him in fifth place.
Both Brian Baragwanath (Lonestar PEP EMD BB Motorsport Yamaha) and André du Plessis (Evolution Racing Suzuki) who started on the front row experienced some bad luck. Baragwanath had to call it a day while leading when a bolt broke on the broken rear shock absorber resulting in the shock damaging the electrical system irreparably. Du Plessis’ quad overheated and he had to settle for 15th place in the Q1 Championship. Danie Erasmus (Suzuki) was sixth overall (4th in Q1) followed by the 2012 Junior National Champion, Jaco Moller (Suzuki) who crashed, but still finished seventh. Rorke Millar (Can-Am) was eighth and beat Jay-Zet Potgieter (X35 Energy Suzuki) by 35 seconds while Freddie Taljaard (CHM Carriers Suzuki) rounded off the top 10.
A few tight battles took place on the short 60 kilometre track and one of these was between De Wet and JC de Bruyn (Yamaha) in the motorcycle category. The privateer (De Bruyn) missed the top five by only 11 seconds and had to settle for sixth place with Juan van Rooyen (Brother Broadlink KTM) finishing seventh, just ahead of Ruan Roberts (Beta). Chris Webster (Micks Motorcycles Yamaha) had to fight his way open after starting a few rows behind the front runners due to a problematic qualifying time that determined the starting positions for this race. He was ninth, only 36 seconds ahead of the OR2 (250cc) winner, Vincent Crosbie (Naledi Motors Wesbank Racing KTM) who rounded off the top ten.
Francois de Greef (KTM) was second in OR2 (11th overall) with Jono van Wyk (Brother Broadlink KTM) third in this class. Another former Junior National Championship competitor, Jaycee Nienaber (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha) finished second behind Pentecost in OR3 with Renier Kotze (Bert Smith Racing Powered by RAD KTM) rounding off the OR3 podium. Brother Broadlink KTM’s Louw Schmidt won the OR4 / Under 21 Class while junior rider, Mauritz Meiring (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg) won the Silver Class Challenge after competing in his first national event. Also in the top 15 was Mark Garland (Kargo Racing Yamaha) who finished 12th and Jono Webster (Micks Motorcycles Yamaha), who is still recovering from a knee operation, who was 15th.
Between the unlucky ones was Dakar Rally hero, Riaan van Niekerk (Brother Broadlink KTM) who experienced mechanical problems towards the end of the race while he was in the top ten – the same happened to Dillon Inggs (Roost ECS KTM) – while Timmy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) was halted by gearbox problems and Michael Creevy (Husqvarna SA) crashed into a tree.
A new name appeared at the top of the Senior Class in the motorcycle category – Pieter Holl (Bert Smith Powered by RAD KTM) won this class first time out. Justim Broughton (KTM) was somewhat behind in second place while Dennis Williams (Roost ECS KTM) rounded off the podium. On four wheels Russell Ferreira (Diamond Trailers Honda) had to settle for second place behind Senior Class newbie (Struwig) while Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki) rounded off the podium.
Jurie Meyer’s dad, Jurie Senior (Yamaha Support), took the victory in the Master Class for quad competitors older than 46 years of age when he beat Tony dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) by a meagre 42 seconds. Peter Schenk (Thesens Generators Racing Honda) was somewhat behind in third place.
On two wheels the Master Class was won by yet another Bert Smith Powered by RAD KTM rider, Leon Gerber who had a comfortable lead ahead of Martin Poole (Yamaha) and Nicholas Kirk (Yamaha) with the demanding track taking its toll on the more ‘senior’ competitors.
Graeme Howell (Evolution Racing Suzuki) won the Silver Class Challenge (quads) while Chardri Monk (Thesens Generators KTM) made a great comeback after a back injury last year to win the Ladies Quad Class even though her quad’s rear shock blew early in the race. It is the first year that female motorcycle competitors can compete in their own class and Kirsten Landman (Brother Broadlink KTM) became the first winner for 2013.
Competitors have just less than two months to work on their fitness before taking on the second round of the 2013 National Championship on 27 April in the Bronkhorstspruit area. This event will again be a sprint-type race (180 kilometres) and will again be combined with a round of the PS Portable Shade GOC Series. Visit www.mqoecommission.co.za for more information and www.racecontrol.co.za for complete results.