Birch back with Kei Enduro win
KING OF THE KEI: KTM's Chris Birch powers to victory in the weekend's Kei Enduro outside East London.
Author: ELZA THIART
EAST LONDON – Defending National Enduro title holder Chris Birch (KTM) made a welcome return to the 2012 series when he won his first race of the season, the Kei Enduro.
The third round of the championship took place outside East London in the Eastern Cape.
The Kiwi, who now lives in South Africa, tackled the race from the back of the field since a crash and injuries prevented him from finishing the first two rounds of the current series.
Birch came back with a vengeance, posting the fastest times after the four special timed stages of an event that was described by the riders as a “real enduro”.
Jade Gutzeit (Yamaha) finished second behind Birch in the E1 (Open Class) and he assumed the second step on the overall podium. Altus de Wet (KTM) the winner of the previous event, won E2 (200cc Class) for the second consecutive race and rounded off the overall podium.
Schoolboy Wade Young (Yamaha), 2011 Junior National champ, posted his best result since competing on Senior level this season to finish second in E2 and fourth overall, despite nursing an ankle injury. Kenneth Gilbert (Yamaha), who returns to the South African racing fraternity after five years racing in the US, also recorded his best result in the enduro series (third in E1, fifth overall).
Gilbert finished only two seconds ahead of Marc Torlage (Yamaha) who rounded off the E2 podium after a frustrating race in which he crashed and lost valuable time. He was also still suffering from injuries sustained after crashing at an earlier event.
Rounding off the top 10 were Louwrens Mahoney, Brian Capper, Scott Bouverie and Riaan van Niekerk, all astride KTMs.
SENIORS AND SILVERS
In the Senior Class, the winner of the season opener, Jody Engelbrecht (Yamaha), and defending champion William Gillit (Yamaha) continued their spat in the East London race where Engelbrecht went on to claim his second victory of the season. Ryan Struckman (Yamaha) rounded off the podium, even after losing time when he flipped his bike.
Bruce Gargan (Yamaha) was fourth and Bruce May (Yamaha) fifth in this his first season in the National Enduro championship. Also in the top 10 were regular competitors Mathew Barker (Yamaha), Peter Jung (KTM), Wayne Bouchier (KTM), Steve Landman (racing for the first time on a Yamaha) and Garth Prost (KTM).
Marc Torlage’s father Denzil remains unbeaten in the Master Class after beating Mark du Plessis (KTM) while Graydon Ilderton (KTM) took the final podium position.
The Silver Class Challenge proved popular, too, with Junior National Off-road championship competitor Andrew Wren (Yamaha) winning for the first time. Local rider Devon Owen (KTM) was second and Jaco Kruger (KTM) third.
The fourth round of the 2012 National Enduro Motorcycle championship, the Off-road Evolution Enduro, will take place at the Wild West enduro track on the R511 outside Johannesburg on June 2, 2012.