Swazi Cowboyz 400 is back
Off-road enthusiasts are excited for a weekend of bar-banging racing at Usutu Country Club
OFFROAD racing returns to Mbabane after a nine-year hiatus.
Lots of things can happen in nine years — the format of a national series can change (and it did); riders come and go and the racing technology gets better.
An important change for the 2015 Totpak National Off-road Motorcycle and Quad Championship, was the decision to take the series back to Swaziland and off-road enthusiasts are excited for this weekend’s Swazi Cowboyz 400, that is taking place from the Usutu Country Club outside Mbabane.
The last time Swaziland hosted a round of the national off-road motorcycle and quad championship, was in 2006 when the event was held in the Piggs Peak area.
Having a look at the results, it seems that only a few motorcycle riders are still competing actively and will again make the trip to the neighbouring country.
These include Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who will aim for an OR1 (Open) victory; the defending Senior Class champion, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Leader Tread KTM) who leads this class after the first round as well as Wayne Farmer (Roost KTM / EC Security) and Martin Poole (Yamaha) who is currently third in the Master Class.
Another former Senior Class champion, Guy Henley (KTM), has also finished the 2006 Swaziland event and has indicated that he will return to this country to do so again this year.
A few more riders who competed in Swaziland nine years ago may aim to better their results this weekend.
These riders include the multiple SA champion, Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Leader Tread KTM) who will not only aim for a proper result at this event, but also to put his first points in the OR1 Championship on the score board.
He could not finish the season opener due to a shoulder injury after a crash.
Local Swaziland rider and Mahoney’s team-mate, Jono van Wyk, did not finish this event in 2006 and will aim for a good result in front of his home crowd as will Leon Gerber, now racing for Team Bert Smith All Stars Racing Powered by RAD KTM and his team-mate, Kobus Jonck, who finished third in the Senior Class at the first race and will aim for another podium result.
Of the 190 motorcycle riders who competed in Swaziland in 2006 (124 finished the race), these are the only riders who will make the trek back to this country this weekend.
The cream of the South African racing crop and more riders who are enjoying the competition, will however be in action and so will some local Swaziland riders as well.
Riders like the Swazi hero Danny Heenan as well as Laurence Murton, who have both competed in the SA national series before, are capable of throwing a spanner in the works.
In OR1, Mahoney’s team-mate, Ross Branch, currently leads the standings with Jonathan Webster (Yamaha) third behind Gilbert and another tight battle is on the cards in this class where riders on motorcycles with engines bigger than 450cc compete against each other.
In OR2, Cameron Becker (VAN’s Racing Division KTM) would want to make a come back after a huge crash during the season opener.
Expect some bar-banging racing as the defending champion, Tyron Miller (Louw’s team-mate) as well as Jaycee Nienaber (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha), who is second, will be at each others’ throats again.
Off-road newcomer, Brett Swanepoel (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) will be chased by Jarryd Coetzee (Brother Leader Tread KTM) and Bernard McGee (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg) who will aim for more podium results while Swaziland’s Van Wyk would like nothing more than a win.
If all the youngsters in the competitive High School Class, especially the KZN riders, have their passports sorted out, some great action can again be expected. Eduan Bester (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) is on a winning spree, but Dean Lindsay (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha) and Brendon Fourie (Kawasaki) will again aim to stop him in his tracks. These youngsters might not even have started school when others raced in Swaziland, but they will be able to add this event to their ‘Been There, Done That’ after the Swazi Cowboyz 400 event.
In the Master Class, Ian Venter (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) and Wade Miller (KTM) will have to watch out for local Swaziland rider, Guy Price-Jones (Yamaha).
The Swazi Cowboys 400 will consist of two 60 kilometre loops.
Motorcycle and quad riders will tackle the different loops between 7.30 am and 8 am to complete the time-trial that will determine the starting order for the race that will start at 10.30 am.
All the action will happen from the Usutu Country Club outside Mbabane.
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If all the KZN riders in the competitive High School Class have their passports sorted out, some great action can again be expected.
(Top) Andre Park from Musina and (right) Jono van Wyk from Swaziland will be aiming for podium places in the 2015 Totpak National Off-road Motorcycle and Quad Championship, which returns to Mbabane after a nine year hiatus.
PHOTOS: ACTION IN MOTION AND IAN MACLAREN