Quintin van Jaarsveld
At 22 years old, Blake Gutzeit is on top of the world. Hailing from the small suburb of Oslo Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, Gutzeit is South Africa’s latest motorsport world champion.
The Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha rider etched his name in the annals of South African motorsport history when he was crowned superenduro junior world champion recently.
He had been the fastest, smartest and most consistent rider in the star-studded field of young racers from across the world, whose road to global greatness in the FIM Maxxis SuperEnduro World Championship started in Krakow, Poland in December.
From there, they travelled to Riesa, Germany in January before heading to Bilbao, Spain earlier this month and finally, the blockbuster fourth and final round in Albi, France on Saturday, 18 March, the day on which one rider’s life would change forever.
Gutzeit had been one step ahead of the rest, staying calm amidst the bar-bashing mad scramble that is superenduro. For three rounds, he had demonstrated unrivalled vision, anticipation, decision-making and skill to identify various lines on each of the uniquely treacherous tracks and steer clear of clogged commotion.
That innate ability – to spot paths to victory and skillfully slice through them with surgical precision – saw him record a runner-up result and back-to-back wins to lead the championship. All that, however, would come to naught if he failed to deliver in the do-or-die decider.
A lifetime of riding and years of dedication had led him to the Exhibition Centre, halfway across the world, on that fateful night. Three possible career-defining heats stood between him and glory.
The stage was set for something special, and was it ever special, the steely South African winning the first heat en route to a third-place finish, which clinched him the world championship and a place in history as South Africa’s first-ever superenduro world champion.
“It’s a great feeling,” Gutzeit told eHowzit in first full interview as world champion. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it’s starting to hit me. Every time I think about it, I get really excited and happy and thankful.”
It remains surreal, he reiterates, having achieved the unfathomable. “I never thought I’d be world champion, especially not at 22, but I’ve worked hard for it and I’m extremely happy. It means everything to me. I’m proud to be South African and proud to bring a world championship back to South Africa. Thanks to all the South Africans who supported me.”
Smooth, graceful, dynamic and resourceful. That’s the type of rider Gutzeit is. He’s a master of movement on a dirt bike, yet he’s so much more than a trials specialist. He’s also a cerebral, calculated competitor with vast enduro and off-road racing experience who races with a never-say-die mentality.
He’s not a trials rider or an off-road rider, nor is he an enduro, hard enduro or superenduro rider. He’s the total package whose label simply – and most fittingly – reads: World Champion.
That said, what he can do on a bike is astonishing. His polished prowess allows him to effortlessly speed through any obstacle-laden track that’s specifically designed to trip up the world’s best riders, scale obstacles and leap from one boulder to another with ease and grace.
His balance is impeccable, his engine-powered elegance undeniable, so much so that it’s earned him the colourful moniker “Merry Poppins”, given to him by Simone Fjellvik, girlfriend of his best friend and fellow rider, Dalan Hall.
“I don’t really like the nickname, but I guess it’s stuck now,” he chuckled. “Merry Poppins” becoming world champion…now that’s something.
The Gutzeit that stood atop the podium, proudly lifting the number one plate aloft, was a picture of professionalism, however, his journey to the summit of superenduro began 19 years earlier…
Photos by Future7Media