The fights for titles in the 2015 National Off-Road Motorcycle and Quad championships are on now that new winners have emerged from the Swazi Cowboyz 400, the second round of the series raced in the Mhlambanyatsi area.
It was a tough race for competitors who had to work hard on the scenic, but challenging route that took them from the Usutu Forest country club through the forests and mountains in the area.
Two of the biggest and most competitive classes in this year’s national championship series, OR3 in the motorcycle category and Q1 in the quad category, were won by a Swanepoel – no relation at all – with Brett Swanepoel (Yamaha) clinching his second OR3 victory of the season while Stefan ‘Swanie’ Swanepoel stormed to victory in Q1 to claim his first national win since his return to the series after a break of a few years.
The starting positions were determined by a time trial where Brett started taking control by posting the fastest time. He then steamed on to claim the OR3 victory ahead of Jarryd Coetzee (KTM) with local Swaziland rider, Jonathan van Wyk (Coetzee’s team mate) finishing on the podium to the delight of his home crowd. Darren MacLeod (Yamaha) finished fourth with Botswana rider, Dartagnan Lobjoit (Yamaha) fifth.
In Q1, Stefan and the defending champion, Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha) were in a race-long battle, but Baragwanath, who also had a few flat tyres, experienced mechanical problems on the last of the six loops and had to settle for third place with André Park, who also posted the fastest time-trial result on his Yamaha, claiming second place.
The race took its toll on the quad competitors and only one more rider – Jaco Moller (Yamaha) – eventually made it to the finish in this class albeit being towed in by his younger sister, Wilmari who was competing in the Ladies Class. Their dad feared that he might have forgotten to fill Wilmari’s Honda and gave big brother Jaco a tow-rope just in case he had to tow Wilmari.
In the end it was Wilmari who towed her brother to the finish while she went on to win the Ladies Quad Class ahead of Karen Geldenhuys (Can-Am) with another pupil, Jade Schutte (Yamaha) completing 300km to round off the podium. The leader of the Can-Am class, Liezel Barnard, broke down just after the halfway mark.
Only one Senior Class rider, Stuart Freeman (Yamaha) managed to finish the race despite a huge scare when he crashed down a steep hill. They had to complete 240km in this class and Tony dos Santos (Suzuki) took his first victory of the season.
Karen Geldenhuys’ husband and team mate, Org, claimed another runner-up result for the ‘team’ with Milton Thesen (Yamaha) third.
George Michaelides (Yamaha) was the last finisher with the defending champion, George Twigge (Yamaha) falling by the wayside due to a mechanical issue.
There was only one youngster who completed the 240km race in the High School Class and Ryno Trichardt (Yamaha) claimed his first national victory ever. Local Swazi quad competitors ruled in the Silver Class Challenge (300km race) where Gareth Emmett (KTM) claimed the victory while Keiran Thurgood (Can-Am) was the runner-up and Fernando ADJ Rocha (Kawasaki) finished fourth. South Africa’s Gideon Stander (Honda) rounded off the podium.
There was an early season victory for Michael Pentecost (Yamaha) who won the OR1 (Open) Class in the motorcycle category.
KTM team mates Louwrens Mahoney and Ross Branch, both recovered from crashing during the time-trial and finished close on Pentecost’s heels in second and third place. Jonathan Webster (Yamaha) was fourth with local Swaziland hero, Danny Heenan (Yamaha) rounding off the top five after losing some time when he stopped at an injured rider. Kenny Gilbert (Yamaha) experienced mechanical problems during the time-trial and could not start the main race.
There was also a first victory for Nicholas Pienaar (Husqvarna), who won the OR2 Class by beating Jaycee Nienaber (Yamaha) by a mere 12 seconds after racing for a total of more than six and a half hours! Nienaber’s team mate, Roan, rounded off the podium and was followed by Shaun Mostert (KTM) and Brett Cummings (KTM) who started the main race from the back of the field as he could also not complete the time-trial. KTM’s Tyron Miller (injured thumb) and Louw Schmidt (mechanical problem during time-trial) could not finish the race.
The Senior Class podium looked the same as at the first national event with the defending champion, Bollie van Rooyen (KTM) finishing on the top step and being followed by Wayne Farmer (KTM) and Kobus Jonck (KTM). It was a memorable event for all three riders who also participated in the last Swaziland event in 2006. Justin Broughton (Kawasaki) put his first points for the season on the board by finishing fourth with former Senior Class champion, Guy Henley (Yamaha), who also raced in Swaziland in 2006, rounding off the top five.
'ECSTATIC' VICTORY FOR FOURIE
The Master Class (300km) was won by the suspension specialist, Hilton Hayward (Yamaha) who has not competed in a national off-road event in many years. Martin Poole (Yamaha) was second with motocross rider, Geoff Den (Suzuki) claiming his first national off-road podium by finishing third. Wade Miller (KTM) had to settle for fourth place with Jan Berning (KTM) fifth. Berning’s team mate, Ian Venter, who won the first event, was sixth after a crash halfway throught the race.
Brendan Fourie (Kawasaki) was ecstatic about his first victory in the High School Class Championship (240km). The defending champion, Eduan Bester (KTM) was second; Dean Lindsay (Yamaha) finished third with his team mate, Adrian Catalano, fifth, and Tyrone Flanagan (KTM) sandwiched between them.The Silver Class Challenge was packed with especially riders from
Swaziland wanting to compete in their own country. Michael Irwin (KTM)
claimed the country’s best result by finishing just off the podium.
Darren Pienaar (KTM) won with Nicholas Mauerberger (Yamaha) second and
the winner of the previous event, Gerhard Grove (Yamaha) third. Lodewyk
Jansen van Vuuren (KTM) was fifth.
Taye Perry took her first
victory of the season by winning the Ladies Class with Botswana
youngster, Natasha Rugani (Yamaha) finishing her debut national off-road
event in second place.
The third round of the championship will be held near Mooi River in kwaZulu-Natal on April 25.
WELCOME RELIEF: Stefan 'Swanie' Swanepoel on his quad claimed his first National victory since returning to the sport. Image: Keith Fuller Photogaphy