A GOOD START TO THE NATIONAL OFF-ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP
The first points are on the scoreboard for the young East Rand businessman, Ruan Roberts (23) and a fifth place at the recent Diamond Route 400, the opening round of the 2014 SA National Off-road Motorcycle Championship resulted in him going to the next event only nine points behind the overall leader.
It was not an easy race and the competition in this year‟s national off-road motorcycle championship is going to be extremely tough. Roberts tackled the Diamond Route 400 on Saturday (8 March) from the third row – riders started in pairs – and the pace at the front of this 360 kilometre race in the Wolmaransstad area was insane. The rain during the week prior to the race resulted in the route to be mostly damp and dust was limited, but the route through the farm lands and diamond quarries was rough. The fitness of the riders as well as their mental fitness and competitiveness were tested to the limit.
After the first 60 kilometre loop, Roberts was satisfied with his progress, but during the second loop, the mouthpiece connected to the pipe for his fluids broke and he could not take in any fluids. It was hot and hydration during the race is extremely important. His service crew could only mend it at the end of the loop. There was a 15 minute de-control after the third loop after which the motorcycle and quad riders swopped loops.
The second loop was ridden out by the quads and proved to be the total opposite from the first section. It was now midday and Roberts was still running in the top five, but during the penultimate loop, he discovered his „tripper‟ was empty! This resulted in him having to race without taking in any fluids.
Roberts finished the race in a time of 04:37,21 – a mere 16 seconds from fourth place while only 35 seconds separated him from the runner-up! He was also fifth in the OR1 (Open Class) Championship.
“I enjoyed the race although it was tough,” Roberts said afterwards. “It was not ideal not to be able to take in the necessary amount of fluids as the correct hydration plays an important role in one‟s racing and concentration, but we‟ve learned a valuable lesson,” he said.
“Everyone has stepped up their game and the competition at the front is extremely fierce. This has only motivated me to train harder and put in even more effort than before,” Roberts said firmly.
Ruan now has less than two weeks to yet another test – the Ashton National Enduro on 21 and 22 March in the Western Cape. To compete in two rounds of the Liquorland National Enduro Championship on two consecutive days, will be a first for national enduro competitors. This event will not only test their fitness, but they will have to make sure their motorcycles are prepared for two days‟ technical racing.