SPECIAL STAGE CHAMP: Altus de Wet won four of the six special stages during the Winterburg National Enduro. Image: Kate North
PATENSIE, Eastern Cape - Defending National Enduro title-holder and E1 (200cc) Class champion, Wade Young (KTM) clinched his fourth victory from five rounds of the 2014 championship when he won the Winterberg event that took place this weekend (6 September) at Patensie in the Eastern Cape.
The event was characterised by extremely close racing action with only seconds separating most of the competitors from each other.
The Winterberg Enduro was the fifth and penultimate round of the 2014 season and took place for the second consecutive year in the Patensie area in the Gamtoos Valley, near the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area in the Eastern Cape.
The race consisted of three Special Stages and the fastest times of nine Special Stages counted towards the final result for E1 and E2 competitors while competitors in the Senior, Master and High School Class championships as well as the Silver Class Challenge completed less stages.
Young posted the fastest times after most of the Special Stages with Altus de Wet (Husqvarna), who won E2 (Open Class) for the fourth time this season and finished as the overall runner-up also winning a stage while Travis Teasdale, Blake Gutzeit and Kenny Gilbert all claimed a stage win (Gutzeit won two stages and shared a victory with Young).
The race long battle between Young and De Wet resulted in a difference of only 43 points (seconds). Each won their respective classes and kept their lead in the class championships as well as their overall lead (Young) and runner-up position (De Wet) on the overall standings. Behind them a fierce fight for the final podium position continued between Teasdale and Brett Swanepoel. Teasdale pipped Swanepoel by only one point to finish second in E1. Swanepoel rounded off the E1 podium and finished fourth overall. Gilbert won the final stage, finished second in E2 and rounded off the overall top five.
Louwrens Mahoney (KTM) claimed third place in E2 and finished 28 points behind Gilbert in sixth overall while Dwayne Kleynhans was only 18 points behind him in seventh. Brett Lewis was eighth (fourth in E2); Charan Moore finished ninth overall (fifth in E2) with Henco Botha (KTM) rounding off the top 10 overall and finishing fifth in E1.
Competitors described the route as being challenging and tough with many riders not being able to complete the regularity sections within the prescribed times. Riders like James Hodson, Timmy Young, Nicholas Pienaar and Damien Scott had to call it a day due to damage to their bikes.
The Senior Class championship was turned on its head with Hilton Hayward claiming his first victory while the class leader and defending champion, William Gillitt finished third at the Winterberg event. Bruce May (Yamaha), who finished second behind Hayward at Patensie, won the most stages in the Senior Class (four of the six) with Hayward being fastest at the remaining two. Only 51 points separated Hayward from Gillitt in third.
Local Port Elizabeth rider, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen competed in his first national enduro during the 2014 season and finished fourth with Stephen Landman rounding off the top five. Laurence Truter (KTM) was sixth with Chris Lindhorst the last finisher.
In the Master Class championship, the situation at the front looked exactly like it did at the previous four events with the multiple former off-road and enduro champion, Alfie Cox (KTM) claiming his fifth straight victory of the season. The defending champion, Denzil Torlage was 72 points behind in second with Garth Prost rounding off the podium. Shaun Kirk finished fourth with Richard Cunniffe (Yamaha) fifth.
HIGH SCHOOL CLASS
It was a tough event for young competitors in the new High School Class championship who had to complete six Special Stages – only three of the seven entrants managed to finis with Eduan Bester taking his third victory of the season.
Bester tackled the Winterberg event behind class leader, Chayse Orsmond but mechanical problems cost him valuable time and had to settle for third. This means Bester has again taken the lead, but a mere three points now separate them. Dean Lindsay claimed his third runner-up results for 2014 and is now firmly in the third place in this new championship after a shaky start to the season.
After the Winterberg event, the Kokstad scholar, Dylan Barker can look back at five Silver Class Challenge victories and the 2014 title. Port Elizabeth rider, Tom Moolenschot (Honda) finished second with Bloemfontein youngster, Christiaan Greeff (KTM) overtaking fellow Bloemfontein scholar, Behan Boshoff (KTM) in the class standings (he is now third) after finishing third at Patensie. Sage McGregor (KTM) cemented his second place in the Silver Class Challenge standings with a solid fourth place. Matthew van Niekerk rounded off the top five.
Except for the Silver Class Challenge, all the national championship titles will be decided at the final round of the Enduro Championship that will take place on 25 October at Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.