Frankfort, Free State - Yamaha quad star Brian Baragwanath took his fifth consecutive win of the season at the GOC National, Round 5 of the Off-road Motorcycle and Quad championship, in the Reitz area of the Free State at the weekend, wrapping up the 2014 title with one round still to go - but there was disappointment for Ross Branch (KTM) who lost the overall lead in the motorcycle category after he crashed early in the race.
The GOC was the first of this season's 180km 'sprint' races (the previous four were each the standard 360km), which radically changed the dynamics of the field and fuelled predictions of a nail-biting finale in September.
Louwrens Mahoney (KTM) took his third win for the season while team-mate Branch had to settle for 11th in OR1 (and no points overall) and defending title holder and OR1 champion Kenny Gilbert (Yamaha) - a consistent finisher all season - moved into the overall lead by finishing second for the day, a scant 1m37 behind Mahoney; the top four were covered by just 2m05s at the finish.
TIGHT OR2 BATTLE
Tim Young (Yamaha) had a problem-free race to finish third overall and in OR1, 1m17s behind Gilbert, with Tyron Miller (KTM) claiming his fourth OR2 victory and finishing fourth overall, a mere 21 seconds behind Young.
The battle for OR2 honours was tight with Jaycee Nienaber coming home only 29 seconds behind Miller, and his Yamaha team-mate Jono van Wyk, posting his best result for the season with third in OR2 and sixth overall.
They were followed by another pair of KTM team-mates, Juan 'Bollie' van Rooyen (who raked in his fourth Senior Class victory of the season, finishing only seven seconds behind Van Wyk) and Louw Schmidt, who clinched the OR3 title with his fifth OR3 win, just four seconds behind Van Rooyen.
The overall top 10 was rounded off by Yamaha riders Charan Moore and Roan Lindsay, 13 seconds apart.
Bernard McGee (Yamaha) finished second in OR3 after recovering from a broken leg earlier this season while a split second separated Taki Bogiages (KTM) in third from Caledon rider Wilhelm Schoonfeldt (Yamaha) in fourth.
Defending Senior Class champion Pieter Holl (KTM) finished just over three minutes behind Van Rooyen, beating former champion Wayne Farmer (KTM) by 47 seconds.
Only three Master Class riders finished, class leader Adrian Storm (KTM) taking his third class win on trot from Willem Swiegers (Yamaha) and Jan Berning (KTM).
Baragwanath led the quad charge from start to finish to beat Enrico da Silva (Suzuki) who was competing at national level for the first time this season. André du Plessis (Yamaha) experienced electrical problems during the river crossings but survived to take third overall and Q1 honours.
He was followed by Bethlehem rider David Hollis (Yamaha) who survived a tumble during the race to claim fourth place (and fourth in Q1). The Q2 win and fifth overall was a bonus for Hannes Saaijman (Yamaha) who struggled for kilometres with a broken exhaust pipe, a broken nerf-bar and no foot peg.
Like his brother Enrico, Mikhial da Silva (Suzuki), also mixed up the establishment after finishing sixth overall in his first national outing this year, while consistency paid off for Senior Class leader, Russell Ferreira (Honda), who took his first class win of the season (and seventh overall) ahead of team-mate, Stuart Freeman (Yamaha) who lost time in a river crossing and finished second in the Senior Class with Ted Barbier (Yamaha) third and 11th overall.
Justin Robert (Suzuki) who was second in Q2 (ninth overall) with team-mate Chris Pieters (Honda) third in Q2 after after a crash and Hannes Annandale (Suzuki) fourth in class, a scant 10 seconds ahead of Jaco Moller (Yamaha), who was plagued by electrical gremlins.
There were only four Master Class finishers, as Tony dos Santos (Suzuki) took his first win of the season - 18 seconds ahead for his brother and team-mate Roxy. Peter Schenk (Honda) was leading the class when his quadc suffered a puncture and he had to settle for third, 22 seconds behind Roxy. Class leader, George Twigge (Yamaha) rolled his quad in the river and was glad to salvage points for fifth.
Toni Jardine (Yamaha) won the new Combined Ladies Class from Ladies Quad Class winner (and only finisher) Liezel Barnard (Vervoer Can-Am) with Taye Perry (KTM); Perry finished second in the Ladies Motorcycle Class after surviving a few slippery moments in the river).
The sixth and final round of the series will be run on 27 September in the Rysmierbult area near Ventersdorp in the North West Province.