Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! Yes, after a break of four months, it is time for the national off-road motorcycle and quad season to resume and from the feedback after the launch and announcement of the 2015 season, one can safely say that some exciting racing can be expected this weekend (21 February) at Rysmierbult outside Ventersdorp in the North-West Province.
With series sponsors TOTPAK (senior series) and Raslouw Academy (junior series) on board, the Rysmierbult event will be an action-packed day where four events will be combined. This race will form the first round of the TOTPAK National Off-road Championship and the Raslouw Academy Junior National Championship while it will also be the season opener for the Northern Regions junior and senior series.
TOTPAK NATIONAL OFF-ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP: The grapevine is still a hive of activity with lots of news. Having a look at the factory motorcycle teams, it seems that all the 2014 Brother Leader Tread KTM champions will be back in action. The OR1 champion, Louwrens Mahoney will again compete in OR1 with his team-mate, Ross Branch, while OR2 champion, Tyron Miller, will be joined by OR3 champ, Louw Schmidt, who is still recovering from a small wrist injury and Jono van Wyk. Jarryd Coetzee has joined the team and will stand his man in OR3 while Senior Class champion, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen, will defend his title.
Proudly Bidvest Yamaha’s Kenny Gilbert will take on the competition in OR1 while his team-mate, the enduro ace, Brett Swanepoel, who finished second in the 2014 Roof of Africa, will also tackle the national off-road series. Kargo Racing will be represented by Michael Pentecost (Yamaha) in OR1 while D&H Engineering Works Yamaha’s Jaycee Nienaber and Roan Lindsay will go for gold in OR2. Their team-mates, Darren Mcleod, Dean Lindsay and Adriano Catalano will compete in OR3 and the extremely competitive High School Class Championship.
The new High School Class Championship delivered some handlebar racing action last year and the defending champ, Eduan Bester (KTM Centurion Liqui Moley) as well as the runner-up, Brendan Fourie (Kawasaki) will be between the talented youngsters who will aim for the title.
The 2014 Silver Class Challenge winner, Shaun Mostert (KTM) has moved to OR2 while the class runner-up, Craig Wishart (Husqvarna) will now be competing in the OR3 Class. The OR3 championship will produce close racing action as experienced OR3 riders, Bernard McGee (McGee Yamaha Lydenburg); Taki Bogiages (KTM) and Wilhelm Shonfeldt (Yamaha), who all finished in the top four in this class last year, will all aim for the 2015 title.
In the Senior Class, Van Rooyen will again have his work cut out for him. He will be chased by former champions Wayne Farmer (KTM) and Guy Henley (KTM) as well as a few new names who will all be hungry for the title. The 2013 Senior Class champion, Pieter Holl (KTM) was unfortunately injured earlier this year and might have to watch the action from the sideline.
The Master Class Championship will also be revived with a few new names on the entry list including Ian Venter (KTM Centurion Liqui Moley Racing) who will form part of this new team. Another team who is known for their participation in enduro racing, Liquorland Yamaha, has also entered the national off-road series and will be represented by enduro rider, Brandon Warwick-Oliver.
Many more entries are expected in all the classes in all four championships. It is however clear that a high level of competition can be expected in each of the class championships and this will add to the excitement of the racing.
In the quad category, Hannes Saaijman and Brian Baragwanath returned from an exhausting Dakar Rally where Saaijman finished ninth. Both these Yamaha riders will be back in action and defending their Q1 (Baragwanath) and Q2 (Saaijman) titles. Former Open Class champion, Stefan ‘Swanie’ Swanepoel (Yamaha) will be back in action after not competing on national level for a few years and this will add to the drama in the quad category.
Senior Class champion, Russell Ferreira (Honda) will also be back to defend his title and his opposition will again include Stuart Freeman (Yamaha) who was leading the class last year until Lady Luck turned her back on him halfway through the season. Ted Barbier (Yamaha) will again compete in the Senior Class Championship where he finished third last year. He will use this saddle time as experience to enter the 2016 Dakar Rally.
The High School Class champion, Ramon Lopez (Sign Wonder Racing Honda) will now compete in Q1 while two former Q2 champions, Justin Robert (Sign Wonder Racing Suzuki) and Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) will both be in action with the aim to dethrone the 2014 champion (Saaijman).
It is also great to see a healthy number of entries in the Master Class championship for competitors older than 46 years of age. Hartswater rider, George Twigge (Yamaha) will defend his title against some experienced riders including veteran rider, Roger Barnes (Polaris) from East London.
More support is still required for the new Combined Ladies Class Championship that produced the first national lady champion in 2014. This championship is open to ladies in both the motorcycle and as well as for the new High School Class
RASLOUW ACADEMY JUNIOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: With no junior off-road racing on national level in 2014, a successful High School Class championship was created in the senior series. The Raslouw Academy Junior National Championship was created for riders younger than 15 years of age and will consist of three motorcycle classes (a class for youngsters racing 65cc motorcycles; an 85cc Class and an 85cc Senior Class) as well as a Junior Quad Class. Young off-road competitors from all the corners of South Africa have already entered for this event.
A full day of racing will start with documentation on Friday (20 February) at the Rysmierbult National Off-road pits while the racing action will start on Saturday (21 February) at 7:30 when both motorcycle and quad competitors will tackle the 60km time-trial. Just after 8:00, when all the competitors are busy with the time-trial, the racing action for the junior motorcycle competitors will start. The young warriors will race for two hours on a separate 20 kilometre route.
The Rysmierbult National Off-road main race will start at 10:30 and competitors having to complete the full race distance, will race for another 300 kilometres (on two 60 kilometre loops) for a total race distance of 360 kilometres. At 12:00 the Junior Quads will tackle their two-hour race. The front runners (seniors) are expected to finish the race from 15h00.
With Rysmierbult only about an hour from Johannesburg, spectators and enthusiasts are invited to experience top class off-road racing action just off the N14 about 45 kilometres outside Ventersdorp (GPS points to race venue: S26° 17’ 58.61” E27° 08’ 44.62”)