Harding star Scott Bouverie soared to the summit of South African enduro racing when he won a thrilling shootout for the E1 title in the Kingdom of Lesotho at the weekend.
Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village hosted the double header round of the Motorsport South Africa Liquorland National Enduro Championship. Over two days, pro riders clocked in over 300km of dust, grit and epic mountain views.
With none of the many category championships decided, there was a lot at stake. The weekend would also serve as crucial training for riders gearing up to take on the Roof of Africa, which is a mere six weeks away.
The Extreme test certainly lived up to Lesotho’s technical standard. It was fairly similar for both events and involved a steep mountain climb and an unrelenting terrain of loose rock. Saturday’s route differed slightly with the exciting addition of a dry river bed and sheltered forest section.
A flat and fast challenge took place in a maze land for the Cross special, which was approximately 1.2km long. An old dam basin was used for the Enduro challenge. The undulating route involved some challenging washaway climbs and switchbacks.
An exciting sibling showdown took place between Brother Leader Tread KTM’s Bouverie and Dwayne Kleynhans in a race for the E1 Championship.
By the end of Round Six, the championship was no closer to being decided and Kleynhans and Bouverie were battling it out for the lead.
“Tomorrow is going to be flat out. It’s not over until it’s over, and although we’re on the same team, we both want to win by ourselves,” said Kleynhans after the penultimate round.
The head-to-head battle all came down to Round Seven on Saturday. Kleynhans pulled into the pits utterly spent after giving everything he had to take the win. Bouverie had to finish in the top three positions to scrape by with enough points to grab the championship.
The atmosphere around the Brother Leader Tread KTM stand was tense as supporters anxiously waited for the big reveal. After minutes that felt like hours, an elated Bouverie crossed the finish line in second.
He said afterwards, “It’s been a stressful day! I had a lot of pressure to finish on the podium. But what an awesome feeling to end off the season like this. It’s been a hard-fought championship to say the least.”
Another highlight for the Harding rider this year saw him finally join the elite list of Erzbergrodeo finishers in an impressive 12th place, erasing the disappointment of a number of unsuccessful previous attempts due to injury.
Back from injury, Paddock’s Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) placed third on both days to finish just off the E1 Championship podium in fourth place.
“Eight weeks is the longest I have ever gone without riding since I started racing and to podium on both days is a win for me,” said Flanagan.
In E2, Wade Young (Sherco Liqui Moly Racing) was missing in action, the Paddock phenom starring in the Red Bull Sea to Sky in Turkey over the same weekend.
After one of the most successful seasons of his career, Travis Teasdale climbed to fifth place on the World Extreme Enduro rankings this year.
It comes as no surprise that from the beginning of the Liquorland National Enduro Series, he has confidently raised his hand as the man to beat.
With one hand on the E2 Championship trophy, the rising star was unbeatable this weekend. He blazed over some of Africa’s toughest trails with ease and managed to seal up the ultra-competitive E2 Championship on the first day.
But there was no slacking off for Teasdale, and he set off on day two with guns blazing. Despite a hard crash on the enduro special, he was determined to end the season off in victory.
With a true ‘never-say-die’ attitude, he chased down Husqvarna’s Brett Swanepoel to claim the win for the day and the overall Liquorland National Enduro Championship.
“I really enjoyed the Extreme challenge this weekend. I’m going into Roof of Africa training for the next few weeks, so there are tough times ahead! This was a good indicator of where my fitness is at, and my confidence is up there,” said Teasdale.
Blake Gutzeit (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) from Oslo Beach, who claimed overall wins in Port Elizabeth and Harding, finished third on both days to finish second in the E2 Championship.
“It was a great double header. The track was pretty fast but enjoyable both days. Big thanks goes to my team for all their hard work over the long weekend of racing,” said the superenduro junior world champion.
As the only woman to have ever finished the Gold class at the Roof of Africa, Kirsten Landman had a brilliant two days of tackling the terrain she loves most.
Her Silver Class victory on Friday handed her the championship title, but that did not stop her from taking on Round Seven with just as much tenacity. She had hardly broken a sweat to end off the season with one final win, making it seven out of seven race wins for Landman.
Port Shepstone and Herbalife Nutrition bLU cRU Yamaha Racing Team rider Piwe Zulu’s Silver Class campaign concluded with a 10th on Day One and sixth on Day Two.
“I had great weekend of racing. A huge thanks to Herbalife bLU cRU Yamaha for the awesome bike and to my pit crew team, thank you guys for working hard to get me back on the start line on every lap,” said Zulu.
Riders are now looking forward to an epic battle at the 50th edition of the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’, the Roof of Africa, which will take place from 16-19 November with the headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho.