Mooi River will level the field

Best 6 of the year’s 7 events will count to­wards stand­ings

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

THE Mooi River Na­tional Off-road on Satur­day prom­ises to level the play­ing field for all rid­ers com­pet­ing in the third round of the sea­son in the Mid­lands Me­an­der.

The 2015 Tot­pak Na­tional Off-road Cham­pi­onship will be the first na­tional bike event at Mooi River since 2000.

Hence the Mooi River Na­tional Of­froad, or­gan­ised by the ex­pe­ri­enced Natal Off-road Mo­tor Club (NORMC), will present all the rid­ers with a new chal­lenge at a stage where the cham­pi­onship is reach­ing the half­way mark, with only four events re­main­ing af­ter the KZN race.

The rid­ers are now ac­cus­tomed to the new struc­ture, where a 60 km time-trial early on race day de­ter­mines the start­ing or­der for the sec­ond rac­ing sec­tion that starts at 10.30 am.

This new struc­ture de­mands pre­cise prepa­ra­tion from the com­peti­tors, while the re­sults can be in­flu­enced by their level of fit­ness as well as the ser­vice they re­ceive from their crews in the pits.

Strate­gi­cally, the best six of the year’s seven events will count to­wards the cham­pi­onship stand­ings. This means that a rider can “throw away” a race that he could not fin­ish.

The OR3 (200cc) Cham­pi­onship in the mo­tor­cy­cle cat­e­gory had ev­ery­one talk­ing as it pro­duced spec­tac­u­lar rac­ing as the big­gest class in the se­ries. It might be en­duro rider Brett Swanepoel’s (Proudly Bid­vest Yamaha) first na­tional off-road sea­son, but he has showed that he is not afraid of speed and leads the class af­ter two con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries.

Team-mates at Brother Leader Tread KTM, Jar­ryd Coet­zee and Jonathan van Wyk are also ca­pa­ble of podium re­sults.

In the Open champs, a victory each for Botswana’s Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) and Michael Pen­te­cost (Kargo Rac­ing Yamaha) and an­other set of great re­sults, put them at the front of the OR1 class, while con­sis­tent re­sults put Jonathan Web­ster (Yamaha) third.

A tight battle has al­ready heated up in OR2 (250cc) where Jaycee Nien­aber (D&H En­gi­neer­ing Works Yamaha) leads Ni­cholas Pien­aar (Ridge­way Rac­ing Husq­varna), who won in Swazi­land, by only one point. There is a small gap to the rest of the field with Nien­aber’s team­mate Roan Lind­say in third place and aim­ing for an­other podium re­sult. The 2014 Sil­ver Class Chal­lenge win­ner, Shaun Mostert (KTM), is close on his heels. In the quad cat­e­gory, most of the ac­tion is hap­pen­ing in the Q1 Class, where de­fend­ing cham­pion Brian Barag­wanath (Proudly Bid­vest Yamaha) and Ste­fan Swanepoel (Yamaha) are sep­a­rated by two points fol­lowed by Jaco Moller (Ex­treme ATV Tza­neen Yamaha) in third place.

At the end of the sea­son only one na­tional cham­pion will emerge as the Q1 and Q2 classes will be com­bined. Q2 is, how­ever, strug­gling with num­bers while the class leader, Justin Robert (Sign Won­der Rac­ing Honda), is out of ac­tion af­ter in­juries sus­tained in Swazi­land. Gideon Ja­cobs (Honda) has started each race well, but me­chan­i­cal is­sues have re­sulted in him hav­ing not scored any points to date.

Af­ter two vic­to­ries in the Se­nior Quad Class Cham­pi­onship, it looks like Stu­art Free­man (Yamaha) is rul­ing this class with Paul dos San­tos (Fac­tory Rac­ing Suzuki) in sec­ond.

In the mo­tor­cy­cle cat­e­gory, the battle is on be­tween the three rid­ers who fin­ished on the podium in the same po­si­tions af­ter both pre­vi­ous events — the de­fend­ing cham­pion, Bol­lie van Rooyen (Brother Leader Tread KTM), claimed two vic­to­ries with for­mer cham­pion Wayne Farmer (Roost KTM EC Se­cu­rity KTM) sec­ond and Kobus Jonck (Bert Smith Rac­ing KTM) third.

In the Mas­ter Class Cham­pi­onships for rid­ers older than 46, some in­ter­est­ing bat­tles are brew­ing.

On two wheels, for­mer cham­pion Martin Poole (Yamaha) has taken the lead and will be chased by the win­ner of the first event, Ian Ven­ter (KTM Cen­tu­rion Liqui Moly Rac­ing) and Wade Miller (KTM), who are both only two points be­hind, while mo­tocross racer Ge­off Den (Suzuki) is third.

On the quads, two podium po­si­tions have put for­mer Mas­ter Class Cham­pion Mil­ton Th­e­sen (Th­e­sens Gen­er­a­tors Yamaha) in the lead, but a victory in Swazi­land puts Tony dos San­tos only two points be­hind. Ge­orge Michaelides is third but Ge­orge Gelden­huys (Aba­cus DI­VI­SIONS Can-Am) can still up­set the quad-cart af­ter his sec­ond place in Swazi­land.

In the High School Cham­pi­onships, cur­rent mo­tor­cy­cle cham­pion Ed­uan Bester (KTM Cen­tu­rion Liqui Moly Rac­ing) and Bren­don Fourie (Kawasaki) are con­tin­u­ing their battle from last year, with Bester lead­ing Fourie by two points. Dean Lind­say (D&H En­gi­neer­ing Works Yamaha) is third.

There has been a change in the Com­bined Ladies Class Cham­pi­onship where scholar Wil­mari Moller (Ex­treme ATV Tza­neen Honda) took the lead (she is also lead­ing the Ladies Quad Class) ahead of Jade Schutte (Yamaha) who is sec­ond in the Ladies Quad Class. The de­fend­ing cham­pion, Liezel Barnard (Barnard Ver­voer Can-Am), will have to chase th­ese girls from her third place.

The Mooi River Na­tional Off-road starts at 7.30 am from the Mooi River Polo Crosse Club just off the R103 on the road to Est­court. (GPS: S29° 09’ 10.01” E30° 01’ 24.83”)

More on www.dirtrac­ing.co.za or on Twit­ter @DirtRac­ingSA.

PHOTO: KEITH FULLER

Michael Pen­te­cost from Dur­ban is cur­rently sec­ond in the Open Class (OR1) mo­toro­cy­cle cham­pi­onship and will aim for an­other good re­sult in front in Mooi River on Satur­day.

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