Team Sabcool Racing's Matthew Barnard (17) took the lead in the 2011 South African Junior National Off-road Championship when he won the recent Montagu Junior National,
the fifth round of the championship that took place on Saturday, 6 August, in the Western Cape.
Barnard competes in the extremely competitive Senior Open Quad Class Championship for riders between the ages of 14 and 17 years on quads limited to engine sizes no bigger than 450cc. His machine of choice is the KTM450.
The Glenvista High (Johannesburg South) scholar finished on the podium at the previous two events – he was third at the Gauteng event outside Pretoria and finished second at the Hluhluwe race in KwaZulu-Natal – and took the lead early during the Montagu Junior National, a race that was described by most as one of the most testing and technical so far this season with a rocky route and mountain climbs and descents adding to the test.
It was, however, not plain sailing for young Barnard who struggled with two flat tyres on the rocky terrain in the mountains outside Montagu. The cold weather conditions (it snowed the day before the race) added to the level of difficulty of the race that consisted of four loops of 42km each. While leading the race on the last lap, Barnard lost more time behind a marshal that was stuck on a quad on the route and after "rescuing" the race official, he continued to the finish line to receive the chequered flag with 12 seconds in hand before the runner-up.
It took him 3hours 13min 36.564 to complete the 170km race and even though it was an extremely tough and demanding race, an elated Barnard, who has been racing for only two years now, claimed to have enjoyed every second of it.
This result has seen him moving to the top of the leader board in the Senior Quad Class Championship with two more races in the 2011 series still to go.
Racing is not only a social weekend event for Barnard who is a student of the well-known fitness trainer, Russell White. His high level of fitness ensures that his concentration during the race did not fail him. He also relies on his support group that includes his family as well as veteran off-road racer, Rob Wagner, and his son, Michael, who has won both the junior and senior categories of the Junior National Championship, Steve and Hennie from Body Guru Meyersdal and Nikki Nes from the Booysens Boxing Academy. Inspiration is sourced and provided from Rui Senna, Jacques Struwig and Vic Seabra.
The penultimate round of the 2011 series, the Devonshire Junior National, will take place on 3 September in the Tweespruit area in the Eastern Free State with the final round of the championship that will take place on 8 October at Greytown in KwaZulu-Natal.
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