Kenny Gilbert Strikes Gold

The 2017 South African National Cross Country Championship for Motorcycles and Quads (SACCS Moto) was wrapped up at Glenharvie on the West Rand this weekend (27 and 28 October) where 300 tough kilometres tested competitors in the Atlas Copco Gold 400 before the titles were finally decided.

Lady Luck winked at some and ignored others during a nail biting race where a 50 kilometre time-trial on Friday determined the starting order for the 300km race on Saturday. Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) had the overall motorcycle championship as well as the OR1 (Open) titles wrapped up while everything had to still fall into place for the leader in the quad category, Hannes Saaijman (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing KTM). In the end Saaijman claimed his second consecutive Open Quad championship title as well as the overall Number One plate after an eventful race.

On two wheels, the OR1 victory belonged to Kenny Gilbert (Liqui Moly Racing Husqvarna) though, with Branch finishing just over a minute behind in second place. Branch’s team-mate, Louw Schmidt, claimed his first podium result after a season that was filled with injuries. The cross country rookie and 2017 SA National MX1 Champion, Tristan Purdon (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing), could not finish the race, but will still keep his podium position in the OR1 championship. Jaycee Nienaber (Super Moose KTM) moved from OR2 (250cc) to compete in OR1 and finished fourth with Ruan Potgieter (KTM) fifth.

Brett Swanepoel (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna) took his fifth OR2 victory to confirm the title for 2017 after a season long battle with Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Leader Tread KTM) who made a comeback to the national series this year and finished second at the final event. Gareth Cole (KTM) rounded off the podium and was followed closely by Ruan Smith (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing). Travis Gehlig (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna) was fifth.

Image from the 2017 Toyota Desert Race by Andrew Dry from www.zcmc.co.za

There was action aplenty in OR3 (200cc) where the title battle between class leader, Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) and second-placed Charan Moore (Live Lesotho Yamaha) reached fever pitch. It was however Taki Bogiages (KTM) who claimed his first victory of the season while Lady Luck turned her back on the two title contenders. Moore crashed during the first of the three laps and injured his ankle while Flanagan experienced mechanical problems early in the last lap with his Senior Class team-mate, Bruce May, towing him to the finish.

Flanagan’s four earlier victories, despite a few injuries, combined with points for finishing sixth at the final event, resulted in him still claiming the OR3 title. Ian Rall (KTM) chased Bogiages and finished second with Wilhelm Schönfeldt (BCR Arrow Yamaha Racing) rounding off the podium. KTM riders Haydn Cole and Roberto Ramos finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Image from the 2017 Toyota Desert Race by Andrew Dry from www.zcmc.co.za

A sixth victory this season meant a third consecutive Senior Class National Championship title for Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Leader Tread KTM). Second-place Hentie Hanekom (Husqvarna) was however faster on the second day than the triple champion and finished nine seconds behind Van Rooyen after combined times with Bruce Viljoen (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) third; Achim Bergmann (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna) fourth and May fifth after assisting Flanagan.

The battle in the Master Class was as tight as at each of the previous five events and the winner would not necessarily ‘take it all’ as the Drop Points system played an important role in the outcome of many championships. Pieter Holl (KTM) was faster than class leader, Wayne Farmer (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) after the 50km time-trial, but he lost time during the race and finished 49 seconds behind Farmer. His faster time for time-trial saved Holl who claimed a narrow victory ahead of Farmer. With a tie on final championship points as well as ties on the amount of victories, the title will go to Holl who scored one runner-up result more than the defending champion. Faan van Deventer (KTM) scored yet another third place and was followed by Iain Pepper (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna) and Farmer’s team-mate, Lyle Roebert.

In the High School Class, the defending young champ, Stefan van Deventer (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) ensured the 2017 title when he won for the fifth time. Maarten van Jaarsveld (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) finished second at Glenharvie with Juan-Pierre de Villiers (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing), who was leading the standings before the event, third. Ryan Pelser (KTM), who was moved from the 125cc Class to the High School Class after the first event and still competes on the bike with the smallest engine, was fourth with Barend Pretorius (KTM) rounding off the top five.
Wayne Mc Pherson (KTM) won the Silver Class Interprovincial Challenge ahead of Charl Nel (KTM).

With Saaijman playing it safe in the quad category, it was Gideon Jacobs (KTM) who took the lead after posting the fastest time after the time-trial. Lady Luck then decided to turn her back on him as well as electrical problems three kilometres before the end of race saw him stranded. It was the youngster, Keenan Hammon (Yamaha) who showed great camaraderie and towed him to the finish. Hammon took the victory – his first of the season – with Jacobs having to settle for second place. Saaijman finished third followed by Stef Bester (VANS Racing Division Yamaha) with former champion, Justin Robert (Honda) showing that he can still deliver the goods despite not competing for a year or two, finishing fifth.

Another former champ, Russell Ferreira (Yamaha) took a tumble during time-trial and injured his ankle, but still tackled the 300km race the next day and managed a sixth place with Motsumi Lekone (Yamaha) finishing seventh. Pierre van Heerden (Honda), who was second in the Open Quad Championship as well as in the overall standings, could not finish for the first time this season and this might see him losing a few places in the final overall standings.

Pictures: ZC Marketing