Swazi Cow­boyz 400 is back

Off-road en­thu­si­asts are ex­cited for a week­end of bar-bang­ing rac­ing at Usutu Coun­try Club

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - ELZA THIART-BOTES

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.

More in­for­ma­tion and news: www.dirtrac­ing.co.za / Dirt Rac­ing (Face­book) / Fol­low @DirtRac­ingSA (Twit­ter)

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

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