Mooi River will level the field
Best 6 of the year’s 7 events will count towards standings
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.
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.