Offroad

BRANCH IS OVERALL MOTORCYCLE CHAMPION WITH ONE MORE BATTLE TO GO

Image from the Koue Bokkeveld 400 #KB400 by Zoon Cronje from www.zcmc.co.za

The results for the Harrismith 400, the penultimate round of the SA Cross Country Championship for Motorcycles and Quads that took place on 28 July, and the updated championship standings show that although a few titles have been secured, many championship titles will only be decided at the sixth and final event of the 2017 season.

With five of the six rounds now something of the past, the defending motorcycle champion, Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) has secured the 2017 overall title and the pressure will be on the rest to fight for the remaining podium positions and the final standings.

Looking at the current overall standings in the motorcycle championship, Branch leads the overall and OR1 winner of the Harrismith 400, Kenneth Gilbert (Liqui Moly Racing Husqvarna), who did not score any points at the opening round, by 35 points. Brett Swanepoel (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna), who missed the Harrismith 400 due to international racing commitments, is currently third, five points behind Gilbert followed by Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Leader Tread KTM), a mere four points behind Swanepoel. Tristan Purdon (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing) rounds off the top five and is eight points behind the former multiple champion Mahoney.

One has to keep in mind at the end of the season, only the points of the best five of the six events will count towards the final standings meaning that riders who have completed and scored points at each of the six races, will have to drop their least amount of points.
This means that behind Branch, the final podium standings and even the top five and the order further down as well as the standings in the various championships can still change depending on the results of the sixth and final round of the season.

Branch also leads the OR1 (Open) championship with Purdon some 30 points behind in second place, but Gilbert trails the motocross champion by a single point and this podium battle can still get very interesting. Ruan Potgieter (KTM) is fourth, 19 points behind Gilbert with Tim Young (Sherco Liqui Moly Racing) still fifth, only three points behind Potgieter.

Mahoney claimed his first class victory of the season when he won OR2 (250cc) at the Harrismith 400. He now leads the OR2 championship and is six points ahead of Swanepoel, but the Drop Points system can play an important role towards the end of the season. Ruan Smith (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) kept his third place and is 17 points behind Swanepoel and 14 points ahead of Gareth Cole (KTM). Jaycee Nienaber (Super Moose Racing KTM) dropped to eighth place after missing the two Botswana events, but a third place in OR2 at the Harrismith 400 resulted in him now rounding out the top five, 11 points behind Cole.

Things changed dramatically in OR3 (200cc) as both the leader, Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing) and second placed, Wilhelm Schönfeldt (BCR Arrow Yamaha Racing) could not compete at Harrismith due to injuries. Charan Moore (Live Lesotho Racing) clinched the victory and jumped to the top step of the OR3 podium where he now leads Flanagan by a mere two points. Ian Rall (KTM) finished fourth in OR3 in the Free State and moved to third place, 17 points behind Flanagan, but only one point ahead of Haydn Cole (KTM) who finished second at Harrismith. Schönfeldt dropped to fifth place and is four points behind Cole. This will also be a championship to keep an eye on at the final event.

The lead in the exciting High School championship also changed after the Free State event with the defending champion, Stefan van Deventer (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) crashing during the time-trail and not finishing the event. He dropped to second place behind Juan-Pierre de Villiers (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing KTM) who is now nine points ahead of both Van Deventer and Maarten van Jaarsveld (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna Racing), who finished second at the recent event. This ding-dong battle will also go down to the wire. The rest are somewhat further back with Ryan Pelser (KTM), who was second at the Harrismith 400, 26 points behind the two riders ahead of him and seven points ahead of Barend Pretorius (KTM).

From the young to the more experienced where the defending Senior Class champion, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Leader Tread KTM) scored his fifth consecutive victory of the season. He still leads the championship standings and is 23 points ahead of Hentie Hanekom (Husqvarna) who kept his second place by finishing third while Bruce Viljoen (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna), who finished second at Harrismith, edged closer to Hanekom and now trails him by only six points. A fourth consecutive fourth place for Bruce May (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) resulted in him keeping his fourth place in the class championship, nine points behind Viljoen while he is 24 points ahead of Willem du Toit (Husqvarna) who is playing it safe before his participation in the 2018 Dakar Rally.

The see-saw battle in the Master championship is still on a knife’s edge with the defending champion, Wayne Farmer (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) scoring a hat-trick of victories and overtaking Pieter Holl (KTM) to be the new leader. Holl will not take this situation lightly and will fight back from second place where he trails Farmer by a single point. This title can still go either way. Faan van Deventer (Yamaha) is still third after another podium result and he is 18 points behind Holl and 43 points ahead of Lyle Roebert (Husqvarna). The experienced track car racer, Iain Pepper (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna Racing) is still fifth despite not competing in Harrismith.

In the Silver Class Interprovincial Challenge, Matthew Coetzee and Ryan van Es (KTM) are still leading on the same amount of points as both of them did not compete in the recent Free State event while Ladybrand rider, Patrick Moore (Live Lesotho Yamaha) kept his third place also despite not competing in the most recent event. Frans Cronje (KTM) competed for the first time this season in the SACCS and won followed by Kyle Enslin (KTM) and Richard Carey (Live Lesotho Yamaha).

KTM still lead the Manufacturers Championship ahead of Husqvarna with Yamaha third ahead of Sherco.

In the quad category, the defending champion, Hannes Saaijman (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing VLS) claimed his second victory of the season and extended his overall lead as well as the Open Quad championship lead ahead of Pierre van Heerden (Suzuki) who is 17 points behind him on the overall standings and 18 points behind in the Open Class after finishing third at the Harrismith 400.

The scholar, Keenan Hammon (Yamaha) is third overall, only five points behind Van Heerden and 10 points ahead of Stef Bester (Yamaha) who was fourth in the Free State. Attie Saaijman (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing Yamaha) only competed in Botswana, but two victories place him in fifth place. Peter Walter (Can-Am Side-by-Side) was second at the Harrismith 400 and can overtake Hannes’ brother (Attie) if he does not participate in the final race.

In the Open Quad championship, third-placed Bester trails Van Heerden by 15 points while he leads Hammon, who was fifth at Harrismith, by six points. There is a very good possibility that these standings can still change by the end of season depending on the outcome of the final event. Attie is fifth, but here Walter can also overtake him.
Junior Vardy (Yamaha) still leads the Silver Class Interprovincial Challenge after a double Botswana victory.

In the Manufacturer’s Trophy, Yamaha has a comfortable lead ahead of Honda with Can-Am third, five points behind and  Suzuki again only eight points further back in fourth. KTM is fifth and Polaris sixth.

The sixth and final round of the SACCS Moto, the Atlas Copco 400 in Westonaria, takes place on 27 and 28 October

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