Quintin van Jaarsveld
It was a long time coming, but Blake Gutzeit (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha Racing) finally secured his maiden South African title as the curtain came down on the National Enduro Championship in Bronkhorstspruit on Sunday.
The Oslo Beach star sealed back-to-back wins in the demanding and decisive double-header to add a national E2 championship to the superenduro junior world title he won in 2017.
“It feels really good!” Gutzeit told eHowzit.
“This one tastes a bit sweeter because I missed the first round due to my SuperEnduro World Championship commitments and a few people didn’t believe that I could do it. When the odds are against you, it feels better when you get the championship.”
Reflecting on Sunday’s championship-clinching race, Gutzeit remarked, “I had good speed and I could ride comfortably at the top, and that’s a good feeling.
“Kyle [Flanagan], William [Oosthuizen] and the other guys were really on it and applied the pressure, but I knew when to push and when to take it easy.
“I didn’t have to race them as I only had to beat Lloyd [Kirk] on the last day [to win the E2 title], but it was fun trying to stay in front of Kyle and William because they were going all out as either one could win the E1 championship.
“Big congrats to Kyle! He rode like a machine on the last day and made up a minute where I thought it was impossible, so congratulations to him and to everyone who got their championships.”
A young Gutzeit won the Junior National Off-Road 125cc Championship back in 2011, however, it wasn’t recognised as an official South African title.
The weekend’s triumph was thus the culmination of a lifelong dream as he finally earned the coveted number one plate he seemed destined to capture.
“It means a lot to me…to do my family proud and my coach Russell White proud. He doesn’t get enough recognition for putting all the hard work in behind the scenes. I talk to him basically every day, so it’s really cool when all the puzzle pieces come together.
“It’s a pity Wade [Young] and Travis [Teasdale] weren’t here the whole season, but that’s racing and I felt I was strong enough to take it to both of them.”
After missing the national championship opener in Cape Town in April, Gutzeit claimed three overall victories – the weekend’s wins and his victory at the IMPI – and two runner-up results to finish atop the E2 standings.
He praised Gauteng Xross Country Club for putting on a fitting championship finale.
“It was one of the best double-headers I’ve ever raced at,” commented the 23-year-old.
“We had no setbacks or delays or stress; you got there and you got the sense that Lourens [Mahoney], Altus [de Wet]and the team have the event dialled, which was cool. We don’t always have that type of professionalism in South Africa, so hats off to the organisers.
“The track was very enjoyable; it wasn’t the typical Johannesburg in-your-face rock route the whole day. There were actually some flowing farm roads through a few mielie fields parallel to some rivers.
“There were some hard sections, but then they rewarded us with a nice road to get a breather. I think that type of track appeals to intermediate riders as well and events like these definitely lift the sport.”
Photos by Sage Lee Voges for www.zcmc.co.za