Close racing in hot, tough Orsa 400
Louwrens Mahoney (KTM) and Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha) walked away with the big silverware in the motorcycle and quad categories respectively of the Off-Road SA 400, fifth and penultimate round of the 2012 South African Off-Road Championship, run in the Sun City area of the North-West Province at the weekend.
It was Mahoney's fifth consecutive national victory this season, but Baragwanath's first after a run of bad luck. Each claimed victory after leading his class from start to finish in a tough race that followed the same route used the previous weekend for the Sun City 400 off-road car race.
Chris Webster (Yamaha) clinched his second podium position this season when he finished just over five minutes behind Mahoney with Kenneth Gilbert (Yamaha), who got lost, rounding off the overall and OR1 (Open Class) podiums.
Only a minute separated Chris' elder brother and team mate, Jonathan, in fourth place from Juan 'Bollie' van Rooyen (Kawasaki) after a fierce battle - and Van Rooyen was only 45 seconds faster than Dillon Inggs (KTM) who took OR2 (250cc) Class honours ahead of Altus de Wet (KTM) who finished in considerable pain after crashing early in the race.
LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT
De Wet crashed behind Jono van Wyk (KTM) who started the race behind Mahoney after posting the second fastest time-trial time, but crashed within the first few kilometres. He lost a finger, but the marshals found it and it was later surgically re-attached.
De Wet's second place in OR2 (he was seventh overall) was enough to provisionally secure him the title for 2012. His team mates, Darryl Curtis and Riaan van Niekerk, competed with the bikes they will be using at the 2013 Dakar Rally. Curtis finished eighth while Van Niekerk, who has been on the podium twice this season, but is not in contention for a title after he could not finish in another two events, was 12th after racing cautiously.
CJ Blackman (Honda) and Mark Garland (Yamaha) rounded out the top 10, while Michael Creevy (KTM) won the OR3 (200cc) Class - and provisionally claimed the title for 2012 - after finishing 11th overall. Lady rider, Toni Jardine (KTM), won the OR4 (Under-21) Class with Ruan Smith (Yamaha) second.
Guy Henley (Kawasaki) retained his Senior Class points lead but had to play second fiddle on the day to defending champion, Wayne Farmer (Gas Gas) who claimed his third victory of the season. Ian Venter (KTM) was third with Robert Streak (KTM) fourth.
Defending Master Class champion Neil Gailey (KTM) was unstoppable and claimed his fourth win of the season.
Punctured tyres hampered the three leading quad riders (all from Polokwane) where Baragwanath was a minute and a half faster than the current overall leader, Jurie Meyer (Yamaha).
The ding-dong battle between Meyer and André du Plessis (Suzuki) for the lead in the overall standings continued at Sun City but Du Plessis had to settle for third overall and in Q1 which means that he will stay behind Meyer in second on the points table.
Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) produced his best result for the season by winning Q2 and finishing fourth overall with Stefan Swanepoel (Yamaha) fifth, less than a minute behind Dos Santos after also losing time with flat tyres.
Except for dust and flat tyres during time-trial, national newcomer John Aylward (Yamaha) had a clean run and finished sixth overall (only 45 seconds behind Swanepoel) while Danie Erasmus (Suzuki) was seventh.
ONLY 14 RIDERS COMPLETED THE FULL RACE DISTANCE
He was followed by three former Junior National Championship competitors - the 2011 champion, Matthew Barnard (KTM), who is still struggling with an injury, Dino do Amaral (KTM), making a comeback after crashing hard at the previous event, and Tinus Bredenkamp (Can-Am), who had to fight back after losing time with a broken swing-arm that was temporarily fixed with straps until it came loose again on the final lap.
Only four more riders managed to finish the full race distance - Werner Palm (Suzuki), Lourens van Rensburg (Suzuki), Graeme Howell and Freddie Taljaard.
Amanda Eardley (Can-Am) won the Senior Class, beating Peter Schenk (Honda) who got stuck in a fence and lost time removing wire from his quad. Schenk is still the class leader, however, but by a reduced margin.
Vicus Breedt (Suzuki) scored his third consecutive Masters Class win, ahead of Tony dos Santos (Suzuki), while third for Kobus Visser (Can-Am), who also won the Q3 Utility Class, kept him on the top of the points standings.
Eardley also won the Ladies Quad Class ahead of Chantelle Darlow (Yamaha).
The sixth and final round of the 2012 championship will be run on 5 and 6 October in the Ventersdorp area of the North-West Province.