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National Enduro Champs Kicks Off with Two Rounds at Creighton

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The 2015 SA Liquorland National Enduro Motorcycle Championship kicks off this weekend (7 and 8 March) with two of the season’s six rounds that will take place at Creighton in KwaZulu-Natal. This ‘double-header’ will test competitors at the beginning of the new season, but they can walk away with a healthy amount of points after the two races.

Physical and mental fitness as well as the reliability of the motorcycles and the correct interpretation of a few new rules might play major roles in the outcome of the results of the Liquorland Creighton WFO National Enduro. Having to tackle another tough day (Round 2 on Sunday, 8 March) after giving it ones best at the first round (Saturday, 7 March) might not be easy while it will be crucial to make sure the motorcycles are perfectly prepared to last both days. All these factors as well as a healthy amount of entries and a field filled with talented enduro competitors, will see the Creighton ‘double-header’ event being one of the most interesting in a long time.

Both the E1 (200cc) and E2 (Open) classes have received more than 20 entries while the Senior and Masters Classes have also received a healthy amount of quality entries. It seems that young competitors only tested the new High School Class Championship last year and this class is now also swarming with entries from all over the country.

The defending E1 champion, Wade Young (Brother Leader Tread KTM) is taking a short break from his international racing and has entered in the E2 Class. This class is seething with talent and Young will be up against the defending E2 champion, Altus de Wet (Altus de Wet Racing) who will tackle this first national enduro event with his new Sherco motorcycle. Also in this class is the 2014 E2 championship runner-up and former multiple national enduro champion, Louwrens Mahoney as well as his Brother Leader Tread KTM team-mate, Scott Bouverie, while Kenny Gilbert (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha), who finished third in E2 last year, will again be in the mix.

While a number of ‘new’ names can upset the applecart, riders like Tim Young (Kargo Racing Yamaha); Bronson Louw (Husqvarna Factory Racing) and Nicholas Pienaar (Husqvarna) might be names to look out for.

Like last year, the E1 championship is again filled with young and upcoming riders. Young’s team-mate, the scholar Travis Teasdale, who finished second in E1 last year, as well as Brett Swanepoel (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha), who finished second in the 2014 Roof of Africa, are fighting fit and will go for the top honours. Last year’s Silver Class Challenge winner, Dylan Barker (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha), has moved to E1 and will be a contender for the podium as well as Henco Botha (KTM); Dwayne Kleynhans, who is now also sporting the colours of Brother Leader Tread KTM and Michael Pentecost (Kargo Racing Yamaha) to name but a few.

It is interesting to see the name of multiple SA motorcross champion, Richie van der Westhuizen (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) on the E1 entry list as he will be competing in the national enduro series this year. Other riders, who have achieved some good results in 2014, include Mauritz Meiring (Husqvarna Factory Racing); Kyle Flanagan (Ihobe International KTM) and Brandon Warwick-Oliver (Team Liquorland Racing Yamaha) who will all again be in action.

The Senior Class, for competitors older than 38 years of age who have to complete 75% of the race, has also received many entries and quite a few new riders will be on the start line. The multiple national champion, William ‘Wild Will’ Gillitt as well as Bruce May, who finished third in the 2014 Senior Class championship, are now part of Team AgriSales Peak Yamaha and will aim to put their new team on the top step of the championship. Jody Engelbrecht (Yamaha) will also be back in action as will Steve Landman (Team Liquorland Racing Yamaha).

Many riders who have not competed on national level last year, have entered the Creighton event and one wonders if the nine-time champion (Gillitt) can be dethroned… He might have to watch out for riders like Graham Hedgcock (KTM Cape Town); Mark Fox and Steven Carr (KTM) amongst others.

Hilton Hayward, who finished as the runner-up in the Senior Class championship last year, has moved to the Master Class championship and now forms part of the Team Proudly Bidvest Yamaha where he will compete with multiple Master Class champion, Denzil Torlage, who played second fiddle to Alfie Cox (KTM) last year. Cox will not defend his title this year. Having a look at the entry list, competitors in the Master Class for riders older than 46 years, are eager to race. Shaun Kirk (Beta Liqui Moly Racing SA), who finished third last year after a battle with Garth Prost (Husqvarna Factory Racing) will both again be in action as well as Peter Jung (KTM) and Gillitt’s new team-mates, Steve Botha and Richard Cunniffe as well as Carl Rohrbeck (KTM).

The question is: will it be a battle between the Proudly Bidvest Yamaha riders and the rest or who will be the spanner in the works this season?

The new High School Class Championship has not only attracted local entries from KZN, but riders from as far as Gauteng; Richard’s Bay; Cape Town; Bloemfontein and Middelburg in Mpumalanga. Eduan Bester (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) will defend his title (runner-up Chayse Orsmond, now part of Team Ihobe International, has moved to E1) against riders like Dean Lindsay (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha) who finished third last year and his team-mate, Adriano Catalano; Carl-Reinhardt Cronje from Bloemfontein who has fourth in this championship; Calvin Hume (cc Gallery KTM) and the Castling-Bolt brothers Jordan and Daniel.

Bester, who also won the High School Class Championship in the national off-road series for riders between the ages of 14 and 16 years, will be up against tough competition. A tough two days in the saddle awaits the youngsters and interesting results, that will play a big role in the outcome of championship at the end of the year, can be expected.

The Liquorland National Enduro Championship has undergone quite a few changes that include the starting order (E1 and E2 riders will now start together followed by High School and Senior Class competitors with the Master Class riders behind them) while races will run on adjusted time and not real time like in the past. The use of a GPS is also compulsory for national competitors.

Round one at Creighton (Saturday, 7 March) will consist of three special stages of which two will again be used at round two (8 March) and a new stage will be introduced for Sunday’s race.

The action will take place at the Myddleton Dam (GPS: S 290 58’ 37.1” / E290 50’ 36.74”) outside Creighton.

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