While there were more victories for some class leaders at the BELL Junior National, the fourth round of the Junior National Off-road Championship that took place outside Hluhluwe in KwaZulu-Natal, there were disappointments for a handful of race leaders who had to call it a day with the chequered flag almost in sight.
Estiaan Steenkamp (Fox Racing Shimwells Yamaha) and Tinus Bredenkamp (CDV Racing Can-Am) were the respective leaders of the Senior Open Motorcycle and Quad Classes when mechanical problems on the very last section of the 200km / 3hour race forced them to retire. This resulted in Wade Young (Fever Criterion Yamaha) scoring his third consecutive victory in the Senior Open Motorcycle Class while Dustin Ledwick (Factory Racing KTM) won the Senior Open Quad Class for the second race in a row after a nail-biting battle with Matthew Barnard (Team Sabcool KTM) who was only 35 seconds behind!
Ledwick, Barnard and third-placed Jamie Fensham (Team Can-Am) fought a close battle while Gerhard Steenkamp (Team Waterworld Can-Am) struggled through the dust after starting from the back of the field due to him being one of the last finishers at the previous event. Steenkamp was fifth, ten seconds ahead of another Can-Am rider, Rorke Millar (Factory Racing) who was again only 55 seconds faster than Jay-Zet Potgieter (Water Rite Suzuki). Julian Greef-Hoffman (Factory Racing Yamaha) finished his first full national race of the season and was seventh after also starting from the back of the pack; Neil Potgieter (Suzuki) was eighth; Wayne Smith (Honda) finished ninth and Elanie van den Berg (PS Storm Racing Kawasaki) rounded off the top ten and won the Ladies Quad Class again.
On two wheels Michael Pentacost (Perry Yamaha) also overcame problems to finish just over a minute behind Young while Robin Hudson (Yamaha) claimed the final podium spot. Gerald Campher (Miller Moore Sandton Honda) was fourth and Brandon Youell (KTM) rounded off the top five, less than half a minute behind the Honda rider. Louw Schmidt (Dirtstyle Suzuki Honeydew) finished sixth after starting at the back and was followed by Ruan Smith (Sandstorm Racing Shimwells Yamaha) who beat eighth-placed Karel Hatting (Guma Sports Yamaha) by a mere nine seconds. Jaycee Nienaber (Yamaha Support) crashed and hurt, but was ninth with Andrew Wren (Xtreme Yamaha Support) in an unfamiliar tenth place.
The 125cc Motorcycle Class leader, Blake Gutzeit (Fever Criterion Yamaha) had to start at the back of the field after his entry for the race was received late, but he worked his way through to finish second, just under two minutes behind another local KZN rider and first-time winner, Tristan Edmunds (Yamaha). KZN riders claimed the top six positions with Travis Teasdale (Yamaha Support) only five seconds behind Gutzeit; Brett Swanepoel (Team Joat Yamaha Support) in fourth place followed by Corbin Lamb (Yamaha Support) and Shannon Rawlins (Yamaha).
Angus Coetzee (Fox Racing Shimwells Yamaha) claimed his fourth consecutive victory in the Senior 85cc Class, but second-placed Alastair Drennan (Roost Racing KTM) was only 28 seconds behind. Dylan McGovern (Fever Criterion Yamaha) finished third. Only four riders managed to complete the required six laps with Duncan de Beer (Full Throttle Yamaha) fourth. David Matthews (Fever Criterion Yamaha) was fifth; BJ Scholtz (Honda) finished sixth; Cullim Symons (Suzuki) was seventh and Wesley Liversage (Honda) eighth. Kargo Racing KTM team-mates, Ross Blackwell and Aeron Thompson, experienced engine problems and could not finish.
In the junior category, Brandon Darlow (Boesman Racing Yamaha) won the Junior Modified Quad Class when he beat Hein van Gessellen (PS Storm Racing Suzuki) who stepped onto the podium for the first time this season. Morné Fourie (CDV Racing Arctic Cat) finished third beating Darlow's team-mate, Wilru Pienaar (Suzuki) by only eight seconds. Championship leader, Pandelis Kafaltis (FD Racing Arctic Cat) experienced mechanical problems, but managed a fifth place while electrical problems resulted in his team-mate, Wynie Steyn (Hybrid) to claim the sixth (and last) spot.
There was also trouble for the Junior Open Quad Class leader, Amanda du Plessis (FD Racing Yamaha) who has won at all three the previous races and she could not finish at Hluhluwe. Kenan Kotze (Yamaha) took his first victory of the season with Jade Schutte, also on a Yamaha, second.
On two wheels Brendon Fourie (Jaag Spinnekop Junior Racing Yamaha) claimed his third victory for the season to extend his lead in the Junior 85cc Class when he beat local KZN rider, Calvin Hume (Fox Racing Shimwells Yamaha) by just over a minute. Hume's team-mate, Calvin Wiltshire, made a come-back after a serious injury earlier this season while competing in the Senior 85cc Class and finished third, less than a minute ahead of Dean Lindsay (Kawasaki). The Roost KTM team-mates, Keegan Coetzee and Marco de Souza were fifth and sixth respectively while a flat tyre resulted in Fourie's team-mate, Tiaan Shattock, to limp home in seventh place. Tausten Gibbs (KTM) finished eighth.
The 65cc Class received five entries and the podium consisted of national debutants, Kayde Mante (KTM) who took his first victory ahead of Matthew Green (KTM) and Sam Stevenson (Comsol Alfie Cox Racing KTM). Stian Koen (KTM) was fourth with Kyle Wiltshire (Fox Racing Shimwells Yamaha), who also competed on national level for the first time, was fifth.
The next round of the 2011 Junior National Championship will take place on 6 August in the Western Cape.
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