The National Off-road Championship battle will continue on 12 April when motorcycle and quad competitors take on each other at the Windsorton 400, the second round of the championship that will level the playing field as an all new race on the calendar. Competitors from all over South Africa will travel to the small town of Windsorton in the Kimberley area in the Northern Cape to hopefully strengthen their stand in the series or to bag their first points in the 2014 series.
National OR1 (Open Class), OR2 (250cc), OR3 (200cc) and Senior Class motorcycle competitors will tackle the 59km Blue Loop first and will change to the 57km Red Loop after they have completed it three times. Q1, Q2 (for riders older than 28 years) and Senior Quad Class competitors will start on the Red Loop and will change to the Blue Loop after they have completed it three times. Riders might welcome the 15 minute de-control after the third loop as the race organisers, Central South Africa (CSA), have designed a twisty route that will take riders racing in the vicinity of the Vaal River.
An epic battle can be expected at the front of both the motorcycle and quad categories where former and current champions will be fighting for more victories while being chased by the rest of the pack. On two wheels Louwrens Mahoney (Brother KTM) won the opening round of the 2014 season with his team-mate, Ross Branch, on his heels. The former champ (Mahoney) will not only be chased by his team-mate(s), but also by the defending champion, Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who is currently third on the overall standings.
In a similar scenario in the quad category, the defending champion, Jurie ‘Botter’ Meyer (Yamaha Support) will try to reel in former champ and current overall leader, Brian Baragwanath (Team Rhide SA Yamaha). André du Plessis (Yamaha), like Meyer and Baragwanath also from Polokwane, will hope for better luck (he was sixth at the first race) and will have his eye on a podium position while Tzaneen youngster, Jaco Moller (Portable Shade / Extreme ATV Tzaneen Yamaha) will not only aim for another podium result, but would welcome a victory. David Hollis (Yamaha) finished just off the podium at the first event after not racing last season and will be the dark horse at the Windsorton 400.
In the motorcycle category, KTM, Yamaha and Kawasaki are all between the front runners. Brother KTM team-mates, Tyron Miller and Louw Schmidt are also in the overall top ten and are leading the OR2 and OR3 championships respectively while another team-mate, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen leads the Senior Class championship with a single point keeping him out of the top ten. Nicholas Pienaar (KTM) is still recovering from a knee injury and will not be in action, but the battle between the rest will continue.
Dillon Inggs (Kawasaki) is currently fourth overall (fourth in OR1 behind Mahoney, Branch and Gilbert) and Ruan Roberts (Team Rhide SA Yamaha) fifth after a close battle earlier this year. Timmy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) will again go for gold after he led the previous event before he crashed (he is sixth) with enduro specialist, Wesley Redinger (KTM) surprising everyone with his current 10th place overall (second in OR2).
Kimberley rider, Franco Smith (Kawasaki) will hope to make use of a home advantage while Bloemfontein rider, Wade Blaauw (Yamaha) is one of only a few riders who have participated in events in this area before. Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) experienced a mechanical problem at the first race and will hope to kick-start his national off-road onslaught.
The defending Senior Class champion, Pieter Holl (Bert Smith All Stars Racing Powered by RAD KTM) will have Van Rooyen in his sights, but also former champions Guy Henley (KTM) and Wayne Farmer (Gas Gas) as well as his team-mate Kobus Jonck who are all ahead of him after a disastrous first race.
The season opener, the Diamond Route 400, proved to be quite tough on the quads and many riders will hope to bag their first points of the season. The current Q2 title holder, Justin Robert (Sign Wonder Racing Suzuki) will chase the season’s first winner, Hannes Saaijman (Team Rhide SA Yamaha) with the rest all in search for their first points. Stuart Freeman (PS Diamond Trailers Yamaha) will go for his second victory in the Senior Class. His team-mate, Russell Ferreira (Honda), is currently second and will be chasing him as well as Paul dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) who was third at the Wolmaransstad race.
While not many entries have been received in the Master Class in the motorcycle category (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Garth Prost leads the class), the battle between these riders older than 46 years will continue on four wheels. Defending champion, Jurie Meyer Snr, had to settle for second place behind George Twigge (Yamaha). Twigge is from Hartswater north of Windsorton and this race will therefore be on his doorstep. Regular podium finisher, Tony dos Santos (Factory Racing Suzuki) cannot be left out of the picture and the two leading riders will have to worry about his consistent results.
Both Silver Class Challenge leaders, Craig Wishart (PS Diamond Trailers Husqvarna) on two wheels and Karl Rost (Honda) on four wheels will aim for a second victory and it is especially Wishart who will have to stand his man against a few talented riders in this class.
The High School Class Championship has again received many entries in the motorcycle category where all eyes will be on the leader, Brendon Fourie (Fast Powersports Kawasaki). Cilliers Fourie (KTM) is currently second behind Fourie, but the Windsorton 400 falls within the young Douglas rider’s racing territory and he might have a home advantage.
Wilmarie Moller (Portable Shade / Extreme ATV Tzaneen Yamaha) leads this class on four wheels from Ramon Lopez (Sign Wonder Racing Honda) who would like to take revenge in the Northern Cape.
Unfortunately the leader of the Combined Ladies Class Championship and Ladies Quad Class, Maryna Venter, will not be able to participate in the Windsorton 400 and the defending Ladies Quad Class title holder, Liezel Barnard (Barnard Vervoer Can-Am) as well as Chardri Monk (KTM) – she will hope to bag her first points of the season – will aim to make the best of the situation. On two wheels Nanda Swiegers (Yamaha) took an early lead in the class (she is second behind Venter in the Combined Ladies Class Championship for motorcycle and quad competitors), but she will be chased by Taye Perry (Bert Smith Racing KTM*) as well as the current title holder, Toni Jardine (KTM) who both experienced some problems at the first event.
The Windsorton 400 will start on Saturday (12 April) at 08h00 and OR1, OR2, OR3, Q1, Q2 and Senior Class competitors will have to complete the full race distance (360 kilometres) while the other classes will complete the required amount of loops relevant to their classes. All the action will take place from the NG Church at Windsorton (GPS points: S28 19.983 E024 42.930). This race is being supported by the Department Economic Development & Tourism Northern Cape.