Back-to-back rounds in the Liquorland National Enduro Championship await competitors on Friday (21 March) and Saturday (22 March) when they will tackle the Ashton National Enduro in the Western Cape.
It will be the first time in the recent history of the national enduro motorcycle championship where competitors had to compete in two rounds of the series on two consecutive days and this will be a different challenge for all competitors.
The Ashton National Enduro, organised by CSMX, will also form the first two rounds of the Western Cape Regional Enduro Championship and will not only test the fitness levels of all competitors this early in the season, but also their mental fitness and the mechanical reliability of their machines.
The opening round has produced mixed results and while first blood has been drawn in the class championships, there are a few competitors who would like to come back with a vengeance. The high level of competition shown at the first round will continue during both days of the Ashton National Enduro and riders have a chance to go home with double the amount of points after the weekend’s racing.
One of the riders who will go for good results and lots of points, is 2013 winner of this event and former South Coast rider Marc Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha). Torlage, who claimed his first overall victory in the national championship here last year, finished 14th at the 2014 season opener and would like to get his E1 (200cc) championship back on track.
A few of the other riders who would like to make use of the back-to-back races to move up on the scoreboard when the season reached its halfway mark after the third round include Timothy Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha) who would like to improve on his uncharacteristic 16th place overall and eighth in E2 (Open Class).
Last year, Nicholas Pienaar (Roost KTM) finished sixth overall at the Ashton event (he was third in the Open Class) and he would like to better his 17th place at the first race of the 2014 season while Nick Wade (Liquorland Yamaha Racing) will aim to improve on his fairly disappointing 22nd overall earlier this year.
These riders will tackle the race towards the middle of the starting order and will have to fight their way through the field. At the front the current overall and E1 leader, Wade Young (Brother KTM) of Paddock will aim for another victory in his attempt to defend his 2013 titles.
Local Montagu rider Altus de Wet (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) started the 2014 season with an E2 victory and finished second behind Young. He was also second at his local event last year and will no doubt go all out for a victory in front of his home crowd.
It will be a first visit to Ashton for Travis Teasdale (Brother KTM), but this will not keep him from aiming for another podium result. His team-mates, Scott Bouverie and Louwrens Mahoney, have both raced here before with Mahoney finishing third at this event last year.
St Michaels rider Bouverie would prefer to forget about his 2013 visit to Ashton as he experienced mechanical problems and had to settle for 19th place. He now competes in E2 and finished fourth overall earlier this year. He will focus on a podium result.
Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) will have no plans of finishing ninth overall at this event again after kicking his 2014 season off with a fifth place (third in E2) earlier this year. Brett Swanepoel (ccGallery KTM Gateway / JOAT) crashed at this event last year, but still finished 12th – he is currently seventh overall (third in E1) with Blake Gutzeit (Sherco) of Oslo Beach just behind him on the overall standings. Both will not only aim to better their 2013 results (Gutzeit was seventh), but also their current championship standings.
Brandon Warwick-Oliver (Honda) and Damien Scott (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha) are currently in the overall top 10 but they will be chased by those who would like to get a foot in the top 10 door. Dwayne Kleynhans (Leadertread KTM) is filling 11th place; James Hodson (Liquorland Yamaha Racing) is 12th after he had to borrow a bike on short notice for the season opener while Charan Moore (Kargo Racing Yamaha) will aim to move up from his 13th place. Local Cape Town rider Brett Lewis (Eddy2Race Husqvarna) will hope to repeat his good result of 2013 (he finished sixth overall) and to better his current 15th place overall.
Like the first race of the season, the Ashton National Enduro also received a healthy amount of entries including many local competitors and the current order in the mid-pack can look different when the season reaches the halfway mark.
In the Senior Class, 2013 runner-up Bruce May (Yamaha) beat defending champion William Gillitt (Liquorland Yamaha Racing) at this event and after having a bad start to the season earlier this year, May would nothing more than to do so again.
Gillitt is however still the man to beat, but will have to watch out for newcomers like Hilton Hayward (Yamaha), who is currently second in this championship after a good first result. The consistent Jody Engelbrecht (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM) of St Michaels as well as Gillitt’s teammate, Steve Landman, and Matthew Barker (FDBR Yamaha) have all entered the event and will be aiming for the spoils while a few ‘new’ names also appear on the list. It would be fairly safe to predict that multiple Senior Class champion Gillitt will finish on the podium, but to predict the rest of the results will be risky.
It is heartening to see a good amount of entries in the Master Class Championship for competitors older than 46 years. The battle between defending champion and Paddock legend Denzil Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) and current class leader Alfie Cox (KTM) will continue with Torlage hoping to make the most of the advantage of having competed in this event before.
Shaun Kirk (Beta) might be a fairly new name in this class, but he kicked his season off with a fourth place and would like to build on that while regular rider Carl Rohrbeck (Husaberg) and Garth Prost (Cargo-Tac Husqvarna Factory Racing) would like to better their current positions – they are seventh and 10th respectively. Cape Town rider Tom Bogershausen (KTM Cape Town 737 Racing) could not finish the season opener, but local knowledge might result in him upsetting the applecart.
A few local youngsters will compete in the new High School Class for the first time where the season’s first winner, Chayse Orsmond (TLB Plant Hire / Alfie Cox Racing KTM) of Shelly Beach would want a second victory.
The 2013 winner of the Junior Enduro Class, Dean Lindsay (Manhand Ridgeway Yamaha), has recovered fully from a wrist injury and will hope to score his first points while another podium position will be Eduan Bester’s (NUTS Racing / Century Civils Yamaha) aim. This class is however filled with talented young and fit competitors, but two days of racing will provide them with a different challenge.
A result in the Silver Class Challenge can also not be predicted as many Cape competitors who have not competed in the first event have entered in this class. Former Junior National Championship competitor, Dylan Barker (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha), leads the class with 2013 runner-up Sage McGregor (KTM) in second place and Reghardt van Nieuwenhuizen (KTM) third.
They will however have to stand their man against new young riders as well as more experienced competitors who might take points away even though they will not compete in this class for the rest of the national season.
Like last year, the Asthon National Enduro will take place from the La Montagne Deli (www.montagnedeli.co.za) situated about nine kilometres from Ashton on the R60 towards Swellendam. There will be two special stages – both sponsored by African Unity Insurance.
The Cross Test will be a spectator-friendly grass test at the deli. Riders might recognise sections in the longer 9km Enduro Test and although the route might show similarities to the 2013 route, competitors can expect various new challenges on both days. The route will take the 150 entrants from the deli through the valleys and over hills to Bonnievale and back with plenty spectator points close to the deli.
The race will start at 8am on both days and spectators are welcome to come and experience exciting racing from the country’s best enduro riders.