The 2016 South African Cross Country Motorcycle and Quad Championship will start a whole new chapter in the history of cross country racing when the opening round, the Vryburg Race, takes place on April 1 and 2 in the Vryburg area in the North West Province.
After running the national championships as two separate championships for almost three decades, the SA Cross Country Motorcycle and Quad Championship now also forms part of the SANORA stable and for the first time in many years the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship and motorcycle and quad competitors will compete at national level at the same event albeit on different routes.
Three of the five rounds of the 2016 national series will take place on the same weekend and race venue as the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship, with an exciting season opener being planned for the first weekend in April in the North West Province.
The dirt bike community has not raced at national level in Vryburg since 2012 – they did, however, compete in the neighbouring town of Stella in 2014 and 2015 – and many will welcome the opportunity to compete in the ‘Kalahari’ again. The Vryburg Race will consist of a 50km Prologue on Friday, April 1 to determine starting positions for the race on Saturday, April 2.
The Vryburg race will also be round one of the National Junior Cross Country Championship. A Senior 85cc class for riders between 13 and 16 has been introduced, but riders will not take part in the Friday prologue. The Saturday race will be over three loops of 35 kilometres, with the start order as per the final standings in the 2015 championship.
All the action will take place from the Vryburg Motor Club (VMK) on the outskirts of Vryburg and the 150km loop will take competitors through Panorama and around Massouskop towards the Tosca Road before heading back to VMK via Visedale. Competitors who have to complete the full race distance, will do two loops of 150km. There will also be two unassisted outside refuel points on the loop.
Former multiple SA National Off-road Champion, Louwrens Mahoney, is now part of the SANORA structure looking after the motorcycle and quad categories. Mahoney, a former winner at the Vryburg event in the past, was responsible for setting the route for the Vryburg Race and competitors can look forward to a route that will produce a little bit of everything. There will be some sandy and rocky sections as well as fast and tricky, technical parts. The route promises to add to the adventure of cross country racing, with a safe track being top of mind.
Some interesting changes have taken place in both the motorcycle and quad categories and interesting results can be expected. The new race structure, new race venues and the combination of the three categories – vehicles, motorcycles and quads – promise some exciting cross country action.
Looking at the entrants, a few changes will also add to the brew. The defending OR1 (Open) motorcycle champion, Kenny Gilbert, has not only changed from Yamaha to Husqvarna, but now forms part of Team Kargo Racing while the defending High School Champion, Eduan Bester, has stuck with his KTM and team, but has moved to OR3 (the class for 200cc motorcycles) and recently beat almost 300 motorcycle competitors to win a GXCC race overall.
Looking at the quad category, it will be interesting to see how the defending Q1 Champion, Brian Baragwanath, who won a few stages and finished third in the 2016 Dakar Rally, will compare to the rest of the field.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park of the Vryburg Race will be at the Vryburg Motor Club. There will be various spectator points along the routes for the cars, motorcycles and quads and public access to all these areas is free.