The first ever national off-road race for motorcycle and quad competitors in the Louis Trichardt area, the Soutpansberg 400 that took place on Saturday (1 August), produced some great racing action and with round five of the 2015 Totpak National Off-road Championship now something of the past, the final two rounds of the series promise to be a nail biting affair.
One would have thought that the championships were already settled after the first four of the seven rounds of the 2015 national series, but this is hardly the case and the results of the Soutpansberg 400 will probably play an important role in the outcome of the championships at the end of the season. A few results were shaken up at the Louis Trichardt event which means that the scores will only be settled at the final events of the year.
One of the toughest championships this year, the Master Class championship in the motorcycle category, produced a brand new winner. Winner number four for the season was former Senior Class Champion, Pieter Holl (Team Bert Smith All Stars Racing Powered by RAD KTM*) who competed in the national series for the first time this season after being injured at the beginning of the year.
Holl beat multiple national enduro champion, Denzil Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) with Leon Gerber (Team Bert Smith Racing*) third. The double winner and class leader, Ian Venter (KTM Centurion / Liqui Moly Racing) had a huge tumble, but managed a fourth place with Martin Poole (Yamaha) rounding off the top five.
In the OR1 (Open Class), Michael Pentecost (Kargo Racing Yamaha) took his third victory of the season. Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) was second – his team-mate, Louwrens Mahoney, could not finish the race due to mechanical problems – with Jonathan Webster (Yamaha) third. Webster lost time and was injured after a coming together with another competitor. Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) got to the finish being towed by lady rider, Toni Jardine (Yamaha) after he ran out of fuel. He managed a fourth place and was followed by KTM riders Jan Human and Waldi van der Merwe.
Louw Schmidt (Brother Leader Tread KTM) claimed the OR2 (250cc) victory (his third of the season) – his team-mate, Tyron Miller, did not finish – with Jaycee Nienaber (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha) second after he lost time during time-trial getting stuck in a fence. His team-mate, Roan Lindsay, was third followed by Shaun Mostert and Brett Cummings, both on KTM’s.
It was a good day for Team Brother Leader Tread KTM who also claimed the OR3 (200cc) and Senior Class victories while KTM claimed the Manufacturers Award as well. Jarryd Coetzee took his second OR3 victory this year with class leader, Brett Swanepoel (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) finishing second after he also ran out of fuel. Luckily a fellow competitor came to his rescue. Darren Macleod (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha) was third with Dartagnan Lobjoit (Yamaha) fourth and Wilhelm Scholfeldt (Helderberg Yamaha) fifth followed by Corbin Lamb (he crashed during time-trial) and Jardine.
In the Senior Class, Van Rooyen kept his lead in the championship while Soutpansberg 400 runner-up, Kobus Jonck (Team Bert Smith Racing*) and third-placed Wayne Farmer (Roost KTM / EC Security) kept their title hopes high by finishing on the podium. Guy Henley (Yamaha) was fourth; Justin Broughton finished fifth and Dirk Jacobus Strydom (KTM) was sixth.
Eduan Bester (KTM Centurion / Liqui Moly Racing) had a trouble-free race and took the High School Class from Dean Lindsay (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha) second and Erhardt Beukes (VANS Racing Divisions KTM) third after he also took a tumble during the time-trial. Brendon Fourie (Kawasaki) managed to finish the race in fourth place despite a foot injury while Luke Walker (RAD Junior Racing) rounded off the top five.
Taye Perry (Barnard Vervoer Racing KTM) dropped a few places when she ran out of fuel, but she still managed to win the Ladies Class with Shakira Vawda (KTM) finishing second.
Alastair Drennan (Roost KTM / EC Security) won the Silver Class Challenge when he beat Nicholas Mauerberger (Barnard Vervoer Racing Yamaha) by a mere 26 seconds. Ruan Merry (KTM) was third.
No new winners emerged in the national quad category where the four-wheelers also tackled a twisty route in the Bushveld where the nasty thorny bushes caused less ‘damage’ to the quad riders than to the biker
A victory in front of his home crowd was not meant to be for Stefan ‘Swanie’ Swanepoel (Yamaha) who lead Q1 after the time-trial, but he lost valuable time due to fuel problems halfway through the race and had to settle for sixth place.
Polokwane rider, Brian Baragwanath (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) claimed his fourth victory and was followed by his 2015 Dakar Rally team-mate, Hannes Saaijman (Yamaha) with Damien Lee (Honda) finishing third. Also in the top five was ‘local’ riders, Jaco Moller (Extreme ATV Tzaneen Yamaha) – he is from Tzaneen – who finished fourth despite niggling mechanical issues and André Park (Yamaha) from Musina who was fifth.
Justin Robert (Sign Wonder Racing Honda) has recovered from a broken collarbone and broken ribs sustained during a crash at Swaziland in March and won the Q2 Class for the second time this year.
There was a fifth consecutive victory for Stuart Freeman (Yamaha) in the Senior Class with local Louis Trichardt farmer, Willie du Preez (Yamaha), who competed for the first time this season, finishing second and Hoedspruit rider, Paul dos Santos (Suzuki) third. Ted Barbier (Yamaha), who will be competing in the 2016 Dakar Rally with George Twigge and Baragwanath, was fourth. Russell Ferreira assisted his stricken son (Camren) during his first national off-road and called it a day after he lost too much time.
Twigge (Yamaha) won the Master Quad Class for the fourth time this year and was followed by the two Dos Santos brothers from Hoedspruit, Tony (Yamaha) and Roxy (Suzuki). Peter Walter (Yamaha) was not too far behind Roxy and finished fourth with Team Thesen Generators team-mates, Milton Thesen (Yamaha) and Roger Barnes (Polaris) in fifth and sixth place respectively. George Michaelides (Yamaha), who is second in the standings, had a tough race, but finished seventh with Org Geldenhuys (Abacus DIVISIONS Racing Can-Am) eighth after a problematic first lap.
Jaco’s sister, Wilmari (Honda) won the Ladies Quad Class after she landed in a ditch during time-trial. The class leader, Liezel Barnard (Barnard Vervoer Can-Am) lost time racing with two flat tyres on the same side at one stage and finished second with Jade Schutte (Yamaha) third and Karen Geldenhuys (Abacus DIVISIONS Racing Can-Am) fourth after her quad also threw her off during the race.
Keenan Hammon (KTM) won the High School Class from Ryno Trichardt (Yamaha) and Ruan Stander (Yamaha) with Tony’s son, TJ, winning the Silver Class Challenge (Yamaha).
Yamaha won the Manufacturers Award in the quad category.
The final two rounds of the Totpak National Championship, the BC 400, will take place from Brandvlei Cellars outside Worcester on 24 and 26 September.