The national off-road motorcycle and quad championships will return to the Hluhluwe area in KwaZulu-Natal after an absence of some years and competitors are looking forward to participate in the BELL 400, the fourth round of the 2011 championship that will take place on 15 and 16 July.
After two victories each for Louwrens Mahoney (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) and Philipie Baard (PS Storm Racing Honda), they will tackle the BELL 400 as the leaders of the overall motorcycle and quad standings respectively, but both will know that they can not relax yet as not enough points separate them from the hungry packs that will be chasing them.
Mahoney's team-mate, Jade Gutzeit, is a mere three points behind him on the overall standings and while 10 points separate Jacques Struwig (Boesman Racing Suzuki) from Baard, the Kalahari 400 victory for Brian Baragwanath (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) has lifted him into the third place and the former champion is only eight points behind Struwig. The rest of the quad competitors will hope to pick up the scraps although a good result for a few dark horses can cause an upset between the podium sitters.
Only 14 points separate André du Plessis (EMD Racing BB Auto Suzuki), who scored a podium position at the season opener and is now 16 points behind Struwig, from Christopher Fell (Rekohn Racing Yamaha) who is 12th on the overall standings. Hannes Saaijman is fifth and a single point behind Du Plessis; former Junior National champ, Giacomo Antiga (Team Can-Am) is sixth and would hope to finish on the podium again while another former junior off-road competitor, Cornel Kannemeyer (Water Rite Suzuki) has been improving at each race and is now seventh overall.
Chris van der Westhuizen (Honda) is leading the Q2 (Open) Class and is eighth; Freddie Taljaard (Water Rite Kawasaki) is ninth; Vincent Loubser (Yamaha Support) is 10th and David Hollis (Micks Motorcycles Yamaha) is 11th.
In the motorcycle category, there is also no margin for mistakes and although the former champion, Gray Dick (Brother Broadlink KTM) is third and some 17 points behind Gutzeit, he is only one point ahead of his team-mate, Riaan van Niekerk and Jean "Bollie" van Rooyen (Off Road Racing Concepts Kawasaki) who are again only a point ahead of Ruan Roberts (Full Throttle Racing Yamaha). Roberts, who finished second behind Gutzeit earlier this year, has some breathing space as seven points separate him from enduro specialist, Marc Torlage (Mr Price Yamaha) who is trying his hand to off-road racing for the first time.
Behind Torlage off-road racing experience counts in the favour of Wade Blaauw (Salley's Yamaha) who would like to close the gap of three points, but behind him the scholar, Tyron Miller (Brother Broadlink KTM), who is also leading the OR4 Under 21 Class, is charged by pure youth and he will push his luck to close the three point gap to Blaauw. All these riders have scored consistently and Jonathan van Wyk (Ramco Honda) is again only four points behind Miller. The rest will have to take the catch-up game serious – Jonothan Webster (Mick's Motorcycles Yamaha) experienced some bad luck this seasons and is outside the top ten in 11th place with motocross rider, Ross Branch (Naledi Motors Wesbank Honda) hot on his heals.
Deon du Toit (Kargo Racing KTM) will not be racing due to an injury and might loose his 13th place while Philip Mayhew (Ramco Honda), who had to skip the Kalahari 400 due to an injury, will be back and will be hoping to make up some places. Enduro rider Altus de Wet (Brother Broadlink KTM) rounds off the top 15.
According to the season's results so far, it seems as if the battle will be fought up front, but some of those riders lower down can upset the applecart. KZN riders Torlage, Bradley van Aswegen (Kargo Racing Yamaha) and Scott Scheepers (Brother Broadlink KTM) would like to spoil their home crowd with good results at the Hluhluwe-based event.
Gutzeit is leading the OR1 (Open) Class from Dick and Van Rooyen who are sharing second place with Blaauw not far behind while Mahoney leads the OR2 (250cc) Class from Roberts and Van Niekerk. Torlage is the current OR3 (200cc) Class leader followed by Van Wyk and De Wet while Miller has a comfortable lead in the OR4 (Under 21) Class.
The battle between Senior (motorcycle) Class leader, Guy Henley (Off Road Racing Concepts Kawasaki), who has scored two consecutive class victories, and Wayne Farmer (LCP Racing Gas Gas) will continue in KZN. Glen Croeser (Kawasaki) is third and the rest would have to be careful as to not let the frontrunners run away with the championship.
Two victories and a second place have ensured Sarel van Biljon (CDV Racing Can-Am) the lead in the Senior Quad Class where 12 points separate him from Roxy dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki). Willie Roos (Rekohn Racing Yamaha) is third, but somewhat behind. The regulars will have to keep an eye on experienced KZN riders, former champion, Paul Chomse and Amanda Eardley (Team Echo 4x4 Powersport Can-Am) whose entries have bolstered this class.
Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support) has made a clean sweep in the Master Quad Class and is leading Roxy's brother and team-mate, Tony, by 11 points. Kobus Visser (Echo 4x4 Powersport Can-Am) might be third with some breathing space between himself and fourth-placed Peet Swanepoel (Honda), but another podium position might put him in contact with the two leaders again.
The leading Master Class rider on two wheels, Neil Gailey (Naledi Motors Wesbank Yamaha) has a comfortable 18 point lead ahead of Craig McChlery (The Roost KTM) while Greg Blackwell (Kargo Racing KTM) is third, but defending Master Class Enduro champion, Denzil Torlage (Mr Price Yamaha), might just upset this applecart.
Junior rider, Darren Mcleod (Full Throttle Racing) is leading the Silver Challenge on two wheels while Henk Seevinck (Quad Revolution Suzuki) leads on four wheels. Consistent results see Chardri Monk (KTM) leading the Ladies Quad Class, but with 10 ladies competing, she will have to fight for her points.
The race will start with a short time-trial on Friday, 15 July, that will determine the starting order for the main race on Saturday (16 July). All the action will be in the Hluhluwe area.
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