The 36th running of the popular Castrol Winterberg Enduro enduro race, sponsored by Castrol for the 33rd time,
not only saw a change in the route for the 230-odd competitors, but also lots of action and activities for the spectators.
The Castrol Winterberg Enduro formed the fifth and penultimate round of the 2011 Liquorland SA National Enduro Motorcycle Championship and competitors travelled from all over South Africa to the Hankey area near Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape to participate in this traditional race.
With excessive rain in the area during the weeks prior to the race, most of the route, which consisted of lots of new terrain including a quarry, rocky mountains and river crossings, was dust-free and compliments to the organisers (the Port Elizabeth-based Rover Off-Road Club) and the sponsors, including Castrol SA, streamed in after the race. Although rain was predicted for the weekend, Saturday turned into a clear although crispy day.
The Castrol Winterberg Enduro, widely considered as one of the enduro events riders have to experience some time in their career, included two special timed sections of which one was a spectator-friendly motocross style test and the other a testing 13 km long racing section. The E1 (Open) and E2 (200cc) Class competitors had to complete these two racing sections four times (twice each) with the aim to post the fastest times and not be penalised (with time) during the regularity sections. The competitor with the fastest times is the winner.
A new name will appear on the record books of the Castrol Winterberg Enduro with the Kiwi, Chris Birch, who has relocated temporarily to South Africa this year from where he races under the Team Comsol Alfie Cox Racing KTM banner, adding his name to the long list of winners that includes one of his sponsors, Aflie Cox who has won this event 10 times in the past.
The defending champion, Jade Gutzeit (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) won this event last year and aimed for a fourth victory, but this was not to be and he had to settle for third place overall (second behind Birch in the E1 Class) with youngster, Marc Torlage (Mr Price Yamaha) claiming the second position and winning E2.
Like Birch, both Gutzeit and Torlage have competed in international enduro races and have described this event as very enjoyable and the closest to an international event. Although Birch was of the opinion that it was somewhat fast, he complimented the organisers for putting a well thought-out and organised event together. He was elated with his victory after losing the previous race to Gutzeit as a result of having to remove wire from the rear wheel of his bike.
The Castrol Winterberg Enduro is not only a traditional race for competitors, but also for spectators who could also enjoy the demonstrations by the multiple trials champions, the Le Riche brothers, who showed their skills with their trials bikes on huge obstacles. The festive atmosphere ensured that the 36th Castrol Winterberg Enduro was enjoyed by all.
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