The defending national enduro title holder and E1 (200cc) Class champion, Wade Young (Brother KTM) clinched his fourth victory after five rounds of the 2014 Liquorland National Enduro Championship when he won the Liquorland National Winterberg Enduro event that took place this weekend (6 September) at Patensie in the Eastern Cape. The event was characterised by extremely close racing action with only seconds separating most of the competitors from each other.
The Liquorland National Winterberg Enduro was the fifth and penultimate round of the 2014 season and took place for the second consecutive year in the Patensie area in the Gamtoos Valley. The race consisted of three Special Stages and the fastest times of nine Special Stages counted towards the final result for E1 and E2 competitors while competitors in the Senior, Master and High School Class Championships as well as the Silver Class Challenge completed less stages.
Young posted the fastest times after most of the Special Stages with Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing), who won E2 (Open Class) for the fourth time this season and finished as the overall runner-up (also for the fourth time) also winning a stage while Young’s team-mate, Travis Teasdale as well as De Wet’s team-mate, Blake Gutzeit and Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) all claimed a stage win (Gutzeit won two stages and shared a victory with Young).
The race long battle between Young and De Wet resulted in a difference of only 43 points (seconds) separating them. Both won their respective classes and kept their lead in the class championships as well as their overall lead (Young) and runner-up position (De Wet) on the overall standings. Behind them a fierce fight for the final podium position continued between Teasdale and Brett Swanepoel (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha). Teasdale pipped Swanepoel by only one point to finish second in E1 with Swanepoel rounding off the E1 podium and finishing fourth overall. Gilbert won the final stage despite hurting his ankle early in the race. He finished second in E2 and rounded off the overall top five.
The only other race winner so far this season, Louwrens Mahoney (Brother KTM), claimed the third place in E2 and finished 28 points behind Gilbert in the sixth place overall while Dwayne Kleynhans (Leadertread Racing KTM) was again only 18 points behind him in seventh place. Brett Lewis (Eddy 2 Race Husqvarna) was eighth (fourth in E2); Charan Moore (Kargo Racing Yamaha) finished ninth overall (fifth in E2) with Henco Botha (KTM) rounding off the top 10 overall and finishing fifth in E1.
Competitors described the route as being challenging and tough with many riders not being able to complete the regularity sections within the prescribed times. Riders like James Hodson (Team Liquorland Racing Yamaha); Timmy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha); Nicholas Pienaar (Roost KTM) and Damien Scott (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha) had to call it a day due to damage to their bikes. Hodson’s team-mate, Nick Wade, posted his best result by finishing 11th while Brandon Warwick-Oliver (Honda) was 12th. A penalty for Gutzeit dropped him to 13th place overall (seventh in E2) while Roan Lindsay (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha) and Kyle Erasmus (Yamaha) rounded off the top 15.
The Senior Class championship was turned on its head with Hilton Hayward (Yamaha), who has finished as the runner-up already four times this season, claiming his first victory while the class leader and defending champion, William Gillitt (Team Liquorland Yamaha Racing) finished third at the Winterberg event. This means that Gillitt has kept his lead in the class championship, but it has shrunk and Hayward now trails him by a mere two points with only one round of the series to go. It was however Bruce May (Yamaha), who finished second behind Hayward at Patensie, who won the most stages in the Senior Class (he won four of the six Special Stages) with Hayward being fastest at the remaining two. Only 51 points separated Hayward from Gillitt in third place though.
Local Port Elizabeth rider, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother KTM), who is a former Castrol Winterberg Enduro winner, competed in his first national enduro this year and finished fourth with Gillitt’s team-mate, Stephen Landman, rounding off the top five. Laurence Truter (KTM) was sixth with Chris Lindhorst (KTM) the last finisher in the Senior Class.
In the Master Class championship, the situation at the front looked exactly like it did at the previous four events with the multiple former off-road and enduro champion, Alfie Cox (KTM) claiming his fifth straight victory of the season. The defending Master Class champion, Denzil Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) was 72 points behind in the second place with Garth Prost (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) rounding off the podium. Shaun Kirk (Beta Liqui Moly Racing SA) finished fourth with Richard Cunniffe (Yamaha) fifth.
It was a tough event for young competitors in the new High School Class championship who had to complete six Special Stages – only three of the seven entrants managed to finish the Winterberg event with Eduan Bester (NUTS Racing Century Civils KTM) taking his third victory of the season. Bester tackled the Winterberg event from the second place behind the class leader, Chayse Orsmond (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM), who has won twice this year, but mechanical problems cost Orsmond valuable time and he had to settle for third place. This means that Bester has again taken the lead, but a mere three points now separate them and a tough battle can be expected at the final round of the national enduro series. Dean Lindsay (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha) claimed his third runner-up results for the year and is now firmly in the third place in this new championship after a shaky start to the season.
After the Winterberg event, the Kokstad scholar, Dylan Barker (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha) can look back at five Silver Class Challenge victories and the 2014 title. A few mechanical problems did not stop him from claiming his fifth victory and the class title. Port Elizabeth rider, Tom Moolenschot (Honda) finished second with Bloemfontein youngster, Christiaan Greeff (KTM) overtaking fellow Bloemfontein scholar, Behan Boshoff (KTM) in the class standings (he is now third) after finishing third at Patensie. Sage McGregor (KTM) cemented his second place in the Silver Class Challenge standings with a solid fourth place at the ‘Winterberg’. Matthew van Niekerk (KTM) rounded off the top five.
Except for the Silver Class Challenge, all the national championship titles will be decided at the final round of the Liquorland National Enduro Championship that will take place on 25 October at Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.