2021 South African championship kicks off at Jolivet this weekend
The South African National Cross Country Motorcycle Championship blasts into action in the green KwaZulu Natal hills fat from abundant rainfall around Jolivet on Saturday 27 February. That’s where reigning South African champion Brett Swanepoel and his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna FX450 will be the combination to beat. Double 2021 SA Cross Country and Enduro champion Swanepoel will however have a target on his back and a full field of rivals taking aim, too.
Brett moves up from OR2 where he raced last season, to the open class OR1. His closest threat is likely to come in the form of Brother Leader tread KTM duo Jarryd Coetzee and Charan Moore. Spherical Holeshot Husqvarna rider Jaycee Nienaber meanwhile already made his presence felt with a fine performance at the Gauteng GXCC regional opener a week ago and there’s also Ruan Potgieter to deal with on another Husqvarna.
The biggest Cross Country Moto news is however, that of the arrival of Pepson Plastics Kawasaki Motul Racing, which brings those famous green machines back in a six-bike team. The new team includes open class duo D’artagnan Lobjoit, who impressed with a fine fourth in class at that regional alongside Craig Alcock on a pair of KX450 XCs. Bradley Engelbrecht will also be out aboard his Origin of Life Roost KTM.
Another man moving up a class is 2020 OR3 champion Bradley Cox, now aboard an OR2 Brother Leader Tread KTM. He’s up against quarter-litre rivals Ian Rall, who laid down his marker with a compelling regional performance aboard his MCA Dragon Energy Husqvarna, Calvin Hume, who won the open class at the last national race of 2020 on his Perry Husqvarna and Kyle Eggar’s Yamaha in the 2021 season opener in KZN.
The fiercely competitive OR3 class for 200cc two-strokes and 250cc thumpers, will see Davin Cocker starting among the favourites on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. He must keep an eye on graduating High School champion Matthew Wilson’s MCA Husqvarna after those two came home first and second at Rustenburg, where they had Pepson Plastics Kawasaki Motul pair Taki Bogiages and Kyle McKenzie breathing down their necks.
Another man to keep an eye on is rapid Zimbabwean Alfie Cox KTM rider Scott Heygate. Also expect KTM four, Roost rider Peter Karam, Wian Wentzel’s Franchise Co machine, Q-Con-EMD man Ryan Pelser and Durban KTM lad Haydn Cole KTM to be OR3 factors. Yamaha trio RBS rider Dylan Cox and Blu Cru duo Noah Maartens and Daniël van Zyl will want to upset that applecart too.
In the classes for older riders, two more Pepson Plastics Kawasaki Motul men, Lee Thompson and Achim Bergmann riding injured Masters man Iain Pepper’s machine, will be out against Marco Cocci’s Yamaha and Stuart Gregory on a KTM among the Seniors.
2020 SA Masters cross Country champion Wayne Farmer is keen to pick up where he left off on his Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna after also opening his 2021 account with a win at Rustenburg last week. He will have Greg Nairn’s Husqvarna and Yamaha duo Martin Poole and Marius de Klerk in pursuit.
In the schoolboy classes, if last week’s GXCC regional High School form is anything to go by, expect Husqvarna duo TFC CIT lad John Botha and Joss Alexander’s Bikers Warehouse machine, and Derek Karam’s Roost KTM to be the form guys. Damon Cox is also in that mix on an RBS Yamaha, while Branden Swanepoel’s Bike Shack DTW Sherco and Michael Struik’s Trimborn Gas Gas add variety, with Rory Donaldson Dylan Jonker and Van Zyl Jonck also raring to race.
Cobus Bester’s Spherical Holeshot KTM, Thomas Scales on a Dynamic Husqvarna second and Brandon Clarke on a Sherical Holeshot Husqvarna will pick up where they left off at the front of the Junior 85s last year. Heath Hackland will be out on his Husqvarna.
Kawasaki Junior trio Jake Pretorius and Clayton and Dylan Human will miss the weekend’s action before joining the fray as the season progresses. Justin Rom’s Husqvarna, Zach Wichmann’s KTM and Matthew Meyer will be among the Junior 65 competitors.
The Jolivet National Cross Country Moto opener kicks off with a high pressure 15 kilometre time trial that affords no room for error. The main race then gets under way over five laps of a 45 km loop of mainly sugar cane and timber forest sections with the odd grassy section to keep the riders awake. The race will run without spectators in according to lockdown protocols.