MAJOR EFFORT: Cape Town rider Graham Hedgcock (KTM), fourth in the Senior Class championship, will want a win in front of his home crowd. Image: Dirt Racing
ASHTON, Western Cape - Close! That is the only word to accurately describe the standings in the various class championships of the 2015 National Enduro motorcycle championship. With the fourth of six rounds happening in the Ashton area in the Western Cape this weekend (May 2), time is starting to run out for those riders who have their eyes on a national title at the end of the season.
The Ashton Enduro has always been a popular event on the calendar and competitors from all over the country will, like the past few years, tackle the event from the Montagne Deli outside Ashton on the Swellendam road.
A hectic race schedule, which included the third round of the national series at East London less than two weeks ago and a round of the national off-road series last weekend (April 25), took its toll on competitors and many riders are recovering from injuries.
The battles will however continue and the standings in all the classes are still too close for anyone to feel comfortable. It is especially the Senior Class Championship where the previous three events produced three different winners, where nail biting racing can be expected.
Bruce May took the lead after the East London event and is only two points ahead of the winner of the season opener, Jody Engelbrecht with the ‘KEI’ winner, William Gillitt again only points further adrift.
Local Cape Town rider, Graham Hedgcock, who is currently fourth, may upset the applecart as he will aim for a good result in front of his home crowd.
The standings in E1 has changed after the KEI Enduro with Brett Swanepoel who replaced Travis Teasdale at the top of the championship ladder. Teasdale is now four points behind Swanepoel and a huge battle can be expected as both riders will aim for the same position – a victory.
Behind them only a few points separate Kyle Flanagan, who is currently third; Teasdale’s team mate, Dwayne Kleynhans, fourth and Brandon Warwick-Oliver who all visited the podium this season.
They will all have to be on the lookout for the riders behind them as well as for former multiple champion, Marc Torlage who will be making a comeback after recovering from injuries.
The current E1 champion, Wade Young is still in South Africa and will only return to Europe to continue his international participation after the Ashton National Enduro. He has won the class at all three the previous outings and if his team mate, Scott Bouverie, who finished as the runner-up at the previous three events or local Montagu rider, Altus de Wet, who is third, do not stop him, he might fly out with a fourth consecutive E1 victory.
De Wet would not only like to produce a victory in front of his home crowd, but a win for him will be a cherry on the top. Kenny Gilbert clinched a podium at East London and trails De Wet by a mere two points. He has a little breathing space to Bronson Louw who is fifth.
In the Master Class Championship the battle between team mates Hilton Hayward and Denzil Torlage will continue with Hayward aiming for victory number four while Torlage, who has won this class championship on multiple occasions in the past, will bag as many points as he can. He currently trails his team mate by 11 points, but will have to keep a close eye on Garth Prost who is only two points behind him.
Shaun Kirk will have to concentrate in order to have a better race than in the Eastern Cape as Steve Botha trails him by only two points.
Who can stop the defending High School Class champion, Eduan Bester? Three consecutive victories placed Bester in the lead of this competitive class for young riders between the ages of 14 and 16 with Daniel van Zyl second – he is eleven points behind Bester – and Dean Lindsay third.
The seven riders at the front have all been very consistent and have scored points after each of the previous three rounds. Keegan Eich is in fourth place while Carl-Reinhardt Cronje is fifth, one point ahead of Lindsay’s team mate, Adriano Catalano. Cape Town rider Jeandry Radyn will hope that Lady Luck is on his side for a good result on his doorstep.
The Matatiele pupil Lloyd Kirk will hope to take a fourth victory home to make up for him having to travel all the way from Matatiele while Regardt van Nieuwenhuizen will again aim for that elusive victory.
There will be lots of excellent spectator points within walking distance of the Montagne Deli just off the R60 outside Ashton. Racing is from 08:00 on May 2.