Offroad

National Off-road Championship titles still to be finalised

COMPETITORS FIGHTING FIT FOR FINAL NATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY BATTLE ON THE WEST RAND

  • Various championship titles still to be finalised

Despite not having competed at national level for almost three months, motorcycle and quad competitors are fighting fit and looking forward to the Atlas Copco Gold 400, the sixth and final round of the SA Cross Country Championship that takes place on 27 and 28 October at Glenharvie on the West Rand in Gauteng. Most of the championship titles are still up for grabs and with only a few points separating competitors, nail biting racing can be expected.

Other than the previous rounds, competitors will be competing over two days with the 50km time trial to take place on Friday while three loops of 100 kilometres await them on Saturday.

In the motorcycle championship, Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) has already clinched the overall Number One plate and secured the OR1 (Open) Championship title, but this will not stop him from wanting to win for the fifth time this season. Behind him the overall podium can still change. Only a few points separate the top six from each other while a mere seven points cover the riders from seventh to tenth place and a shake-up in the current standings is very possible.

Kenny Gilbert (Liqui Moly Racing Husqvarna) currently second overall has a narrow lead over Brett Swanepoel (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna), who missed the Harrismith race due to overseas racing commitments and both will fight to stay on the podium, they will also battle it out for the best position behind Branch. Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Leader Tread KTM) will hunt Swanepoel down, but he will be chased by Tristan Purdon (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) who can close the small points’ gap. Purdon’s team-mate, Kyle Flanagan was haunted by injuries this year, but he only missed the Harrismith event and trails his team-mate by eight points.

The rest of the top ten cannot really catch those ahead of them, but their current standings can look different after the final event. Charan Moore (Live Lesotho Racing Yamaha) is seventh and ahead of Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Leader Tread KTM) who leads Jaycee Nienaber (Super Moose KTM) with Louw Schmidt (Brother Leader Tread KTM) a little further behind.

Purdon and Gilbert will continue their podium battle in the OR1 championship where Gilbert is third, one point behind Purdon. With the drop points system, where competitors have to drop their worst result scored at each of the six rounds, now coming into play, Gilbert might feel a little more comfortable as he did not finish or score at the opening round due to a crash while Purdon has a full score sheet. Ruan Potgieter (KTM) is somewhat further back in fourth place while fifth-placed Schmidt can overtake Tim Young who will miss this event.

In OR2 (250cc), Swanepoel won the first four events with Mahoney taking the win at Harrismith. Mahoney currently leads the standings and an interesting battle is on the cards as both riders have their sights on the title. Ruan Smith (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) is fairly safe in third place while Nienaber will be chasing Gareth Cole (KTM) and will aim to round his season off with another podium result.

A titanic battle can also be expected in OR3 where Moore leads Flanagan, who won the first four events, by only two points, but the drop points system can turn against Moore. The battle will continue further down the ranks where one point separates third-placed Ian Rall (KTM) from fourth-placed Haydn Cole (KTM) with both riders having a full scorecard so far. Wilhelm Schönfeldt (BCR Arrow Yamaha Racing) will be back in action after a broken leg kept him from competing in the penultimate round and he will also aim for the final podium position while Taki Bogiages (KTM) can throw a spanner in the works although he is further down the ranks.

In the High School class, the defending champion, Stefan van Deventer (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing) will fight from his second position behind Juan-Pierre de Villiers (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing KTM) after a crash at Harrismith prevented him from finishing the race. He has the same amount of points as Maarten van Jaarsveld (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) and an epic battle can be expected between these three youngsters. Fourth-placed Ryan Pelser (KTM), who competed in a different class at the opening round, but finished on the podium at the last two events, can take valuable points away from the title chasers and the outcome will be interesting indeed.

Van Rooyen has pretty much wrapped up the Senior Class title, but that will not stop Hentie Hanekom (Husqvarna) from aiming for that elusive victory. Bruce Viljoen (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) will keep it safe to keep or better his current third place – if Hanekom hits trouble – while Bruce May (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) will hope for a podium result to round off his consistent season.

After a season where mere seconds separated the two frontrunners in the Master Class championship at each race, the title can still go either way, be it to the class leader and defending champion, Wayne Farmer (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) or former champion, Pieter Holl (KTM) who trails him by a single point. Farmer will be looking to add another victory to his list of three while Holl will hope to do the same to add to his two earlier wins and both will have the title in sight. Faan van Deventer (KTM) is fairly safe in third place.

In the quad category, the defending champion, Hannes Saaijman (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing KTM) leads Pierre van Heerden (Honda) with Keenan Hammon (Yamaha) and Stef Bester (VANS Racing Division Yamaha) third and fourth respectively, but Saaijman is not safe and will have to score points and hope that everything falls into place for him to take another title. Former champions, Russell Ferreira (Yamaha) and Justin Robert (Honda) will be racing as well and can upset the applecart as they can take points away from those in the hunt.

Saaijman finds himself in the same situation in the Open Quad championship although he will only be under pressure from Van Heerden while Bester only needs look over his shoulder for Hammon who can snatch his place on the podium away.

The action will start and finish at the Kloof Country Club in Glenharvie where race headquarters as well as the designated service point will be situated. From there competitors will take on the 50 kilometre time trial that will start at 12:45 on Friday to determine the starting order for Saturday’s race that starts at 07:15. There will be various vantage points from where spectators can follow the action. Entrance to these points is free.

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