YOUNG CLAIMS FIRST ENDURO VICTORY OF NATIONAL SESASON
Wade Young (16), the scholar from Paddock in KwaZulu-Natal, started the 2013 Liquorland National Enduro Motorcycle Championship the way he finished the 2012 season off – with a victory. Young, who became the youngest ever rider to have won the gruelling Roof of Africa in Lesotho last year, claimed his first victory of the season by winning the Liquorland Baynesfield WFO Enduro race, the season opener that took place on Saturday (23 February) in the Baynesfield area south of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.
Young, racing for team Husaberg Alfie Cox, posted consistent fast times on the six timed special stages (he lost some time when he crashed just after the start of the first special stage) and won stage four (the second short 5km stage) to also won E2 (the 200cc Class). Young was in a tight battle with the 2012 runner-up and triple E2 champion, Marc Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who won two of the six stages. Torlage’s pit crew had to fix a bent sprocket and chain guide resulting in him receiving penalty points when he left the pits after his dedicated time. The defending E2 champion finished fifth overall (third in E2).
It was a first national enduro podium and E1 (Open Class) victory for Nicholas Pienaar (Team C3 Roost Expert Sol KTM) who finished 94 points (seconds) behind Young. Pienaar lost time behind another rider on a narrow section. Only 32 points separated Pienaar from local Harding rider, Scott Bouverie (Brother Broadlink KTM) who finished third (second in E2) after a consistent race. Torlage’s team-mate, Kenny Gilbert, claimed the second place in E1 and was fourth overall with the defending off-road championship winner, Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Broadlink KTM) having to settle for sixth place after winning three of the special stages.
Mahoney experienced a mechanical problem (the fuel injection plug came loose) during the third stage (the longer 17km stage). He was forced to repair this in the stage and lost valuable time. He walked away with the third place in E1 knowing that the victory was within his reach. The rest of the top ten consisted of scholar Blake Gutzeit (Sherco Racing) who returned to racing after breaking his leg last year. He finished seventh (fourth in E2) and was followed by another youngster, Brett Swanepoel (Team JOAT ccGallery KTM) who competed in his first enduro event on senior level (E2) after completing the 2012 Junior National Championship as the runner-up in the 125cc Class Championship.
Team Kargo Racing’s Tim Young was fourth in E1 and ninth overall while Michael Pentecost (E2) finished just behind him to round off the top ten. Mark Garland would like to put this event behind him, but 22nd place overall (12th in E1) sees him adding the first points on the scoreboard.
Team Liquorland Yamaha’s James Hodson was classified 11th although he and Brandon Warwick-Oliver (Fairfield Dairy Yamaha) scored the same amount of points. Warwick-Oliver received more penalty points with Hodson beating his time on he last special stage. Pietermaritzburg rider Scott Scheepers (Pinetown Gas Gas) made a welcome comeback to the sport even though he did not have a good day in the saddle. He finished 13th overall with Wynand Kleynhans (Enduro Zone Yamaha) 14th and Stuart Gregory (FDBR Racing Husaberg) 15th overall.
Only E1 and E2 competitors had to complete the full race distance that consisted of a 42km loop that included two special stages (5km and 17km). They had to complete each timed special stage three times and 27 E and E2 riders managed to finish the race. Between those who could not complete the event, was former enduro champion, Altus de Wet (Husqvarna Racing) who experienced mechanical problems; Brother Broadlink KTM’s Jonathan van Wyk (tyre problems) and Louw Schmidt; Charan Moore (the shifter on his Stoneridge Honda broke) and Lloyd Vercueil (Sherco Racing).
The battle in the Senior Class Championship also continued from where it was left off at the end of the 2012 season when multiple champ, William Gillit, now racing in the colours of Liquorland Yamaha, claimed the title. Jody Engelbrecht (Husaberg Alfie Cox Racing) has thrown down the gauntlet (again) and although Gillit took the first round, Engelbrecht was only 15 points (seconds) behind him. Both have claimed two stages each. Bruce May (Yamaha) finished third after an eventful day where he hit a tree and the chain on his bike came off. Justin Broughton (KTM) was fourth and Gillit’s team-mate, Steven Landman, rounded off the top five after he injured himself hitting a tree. These results predict another exciting season for the Senior Class title.
Another battle that started on a high note, was between two local ‘veterans’ – Alfie Cox (KTM) and defending Master Class champion, Denzil Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha). This time it was Torlage who had to settle for the runner-up trophy for the first time in years with Cox winning the class. This can turn into a fight to keep an eye on for the rest of the season. Dino Santoro (KTM) was third; Darryl Melrose (KTM) finished fourth and Gary Bostock (KTM), who has not been competing on national level last year, finished fifth in a class that saw a healthy amount of 17 entries of riders all over the age of 46 years.
The Silver Class Challenge was won by Junior National Championship competitor, Damien Scott (Criterion Yamaha) who had a comfortable lead ahead of Sage McGregor (KTM). The female riders, Toni Jardine (Roost ECS KTM) and Kirsten Landman (Brother Broadlink KTM) were third and fourth respectively. This battle between the girls can also develop into an interesting duel during the season.
Junior competitors are gaining more enduro-racing experience by also competing in the National Junior Challenge Class in the Liquorland National Enduro Championship this season. This time the defending 125cc Class champ (Junior National Championship) – a Pietermaritzburg scholar, Travis Teasdale (Husaberg Alfie Cox Racing) won the class at Baynesfield with Ross Blackwell (Kargo Racing Yamaha) second.