Ventersdorp 400 the final battlefield for national off-road bike


Words & Photo: ETdotKomm

On 5 October the Ventersdorp area in the North West Province will be the final battlefield for the title fights in the 2013 SA National Off-road Championship for motorcycle and quad competitors and furious battles can be expected as a variety of class championship titles are still up for grabs.

After a season that consisted for the first time of shorter (180 kilometres) and longer (360 kilometres) off-road events with a gruelling two-day, thousand kilometre ‘marathon’ in-between, the standings are closer than it has been in years and the issues will be settled at the Ventersdorp 400. The pressure will however not only be on the front runners, but on all competitors who have been seriously competing – their final standings will be important to them, their sponsors and supporters. It will also be the last chance for off-road motorcycle and quad riders to enjoy a popular race voted in 2012 as the Best National Off-road Event and the organisers (RORMC) are again pulling out all the stops to host an enjoyable event.

All eyes will be at the front of the motorcycle and quad categories where the battle between the overall leader on two wheels, Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) and second-placed Ruan Roberts (Yamaha) will reach boiling point. After scoring at each event, both will still have to drop their worst set of points (the points of only six of the seven races count towards the final standings) and at this stage it means that Gilbert leads by only two points! They are embroiled in the same tight battle for the OR1 (Open Class) Championship.

These two will have to play it safe as third-placed Michael Pentecost (Kargo Racing Yamaha), who has already clinched the OR3 (200cc) title for 2013 and will be competing in OR1 at this event, is close enough to walk away with the spoils.

Only a minimal amount of points will secure Pentecost’s team-mate, Timmy Young, the OR2 (250cc) title with his closest rival, Jonathan van Wyk (Brother Broadlink KTM) some 23 points behind. Sandstorm Husqvarna Racing’s Ruan Smith is third in this class. Young, who can keep all his current points as he did not score points at the season opener, is currently fifth on the overall standings, but can overtake the consistent Altus de Wet (Husqvarna Racing) who still have to get rid of a healthy amount of points. JC de Bruin (Yamaha) stand a chance to overtake the injured Nicholas Pienaar (C3 Roost KTM) who is out of action. De Bruin and Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Broadlink KTM) have the same amount of points and the battle for the best finishing position for the season is on!

Charan Moore (Stoneridge Honda) has moved into the top ten (ninth) with Chris Webster (Micks Motorcycles Yamaha) dropping to the 10th place after he could not complete the last two races. Moore and Webster, who finished as the overall runner-up in 2012, would like to move up a few places or at least finish the season in the top 10. Riders like Dillon Inggs (Naledi Motors Wesbank Racing KTM); Jaycee Nienaber (Manhand Shimwells Yamaha) – he is second behind Pentecost in OR3 – and Louw Schmidt (Brother Broadlink KTM), who has already clinched the OR4 (Under 21) title ahead of Taki Bogiages (Team Diamond Trailers KTM) and Wilhelm Schonfeld (Helderberg Yamaha), are just outside the top ten and will hope to move up on the overall standings.

Tyron Miller (Brother Broadlink KTM OR2) and Husqvarna riders Estiaan Steenkamp and Franco Smith as well as Wade Blaauw (Sally’s Yamaha) will all be in action and upset the applecart.

On four wheels the pressure will be on the defending Q1 champion and 2012 title holder, Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support) who leads the overall standings, but the gap to second-placed Brian Baragwanath (BB Motorsport Lonestar PEP Yamaha) is not big enough for him to feel safe. Meyer has to get rid of points while both Baragwanath and third-placed John Aylward (Yamaha) could not complete an event and have therefore already lost points. Aylward will put pressure on Baragwanath as he is in a position to catch him should the former champ experience problems.

The ding-dong battle between Rorke Millar (Can-Am Racing) and Freddie Taljaard (CHM Carriers Suzuki) will finally be settled. They have scored the same amount of points to date with Taljaard having to drop more points than Millar at this stage. Their results at Ventersdorp will determine their standings for the season. Jacques Struwig (Boesman Racing Suzuki) might be the leading Senior Class rider on the overall standings (he is sixth), but he is only third in the Senior Class Championship behind former champion, Paul Chomse (PS Storm Racing Banshee) who leads the class standings after three victories and the consistent Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki) who is second.

André du Plessis (BB Motorsport Yamaha) has worked himself into the seventh place overall after a disastrous start to the season. He can still catch Struwig while Chomse is not too far behind him in eighth place overall. Damien Lee (Honda) trails Chomse by a single point. With a few names not on the entry list, riders like Danie Senekal (Yamaha) and Danie Erasmus (Suzuki) who have not competed recently, can move up on the leader board as they have entered the Ventersdorp 400 race.
The riders will feel the pressure to score points at the final race so as to better their standings and with only few points separating them, they cannot afford mechanical problems while fitness will play an important role.

While Meyer, Baragwanath and Aylward will battle it out in the Q1 Class, the season long battle in the Q2 Class for riders older than 28 years will also continue. Justin Robert (Sign Wonder / Form & Fitness Suzuki) has taken the lead in this class, but he will have to make sure he finishes and score points as Oz Osbourne (X Factor Sport / Factory Racing Yamaha) has his eye on the title. Robert’s team-mate, Chris Pieters (Honda), is currently third, but only one point separate him from the most recent class winner, Paul dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki). The names of Hannes Saaijman (EMD Racing Yamaha) and defending Q2 champion, Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) also appear on the list and they can cause an upset.

Jurie Meyer Sr (Yamaha Support) has clinched another Master Quad Class title and can now be his son’s pit crew. Tony dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) has been consistent and is currently second while third-placed Peter Schenk (Thesens Generators Honda) will be under pressure from newcomer George Twigge (Can-Am) who has already scored a victory. Ted Barbier (Achievers Racing Dirtbike Fanatics Yamaha) is fifth and can catch Twigge.

Adi du Plessis (BB Motorsport Suzuki) and Liezel Barnard (Barnard Vervoer Can-Am) will battle it out for Ladies Quad Class title while Berne Bester (NUTS Racing Century Civils Suzuki) has the Silver Class Challenge safely wrapped up.

Pieter Holl (Bert Smith Racing Powered by RAD KTM) has secured the Senior Class Championship in the motorcycle category, but behind him former champion, Wayne Farmer (LCP Racing Gas Gas) will hope that Lady Luck smiles upon him so that he can pass second-placed Justin Broughton (Kawasaki) as only five points separate them.

Martin Poole (Yamaha) leads the Master Class championship on two wheels, but third-placed Leon Gerber (Holl’s team-mate) will aim for a third class victory and can pass second-placed Jan Berning if the latter puts a wheel wrong.

Taye Perry (Bert Smith Racing Powered by RAD KTM) leads the Ladies Bike Class, but her consistency might cost her dearly as she still has to get rid of points whereas second-placed Toni Jardine (Roost KTM) could not finish in Botswana and can keep all her current points. This battle will however continue at the Ventersdorp 400 and anything can happen.
Mauritz Meiring (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg) is the 2013 Silver Class Challenge winner and can relax somewhat while the fight between Hein Jnr van Niekerk (Cayenne Racing Beta) and Ceegan Laubscher (Manhand Racing Yamaha) for the best podium position will continue.

The Ventersdorp 400 starts on Saturday (5 October) at 08h00 at the Trimpark in Ventersdorp (S26°19’21.55 E26°49’49.36) when the leading quads and bikes tackle two different 60km loops. They will have to complete their loop three times before swopping loops. Spectators are welcome and nail-biting off-road racing action will be guaranteed.

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