Off-Road title chases still wide openComment on this story
Expect more changes in the SA Off-Road Motorcycle and Quad standings after this weekend's Bell 400, Round 5 of the National series, to be run in the Vryheid area of KwaZulu-Natal. Several new class leaders have emerged at the halfway point of the season and, with only three races remaining, anything could happen and probably will.
Yamaha riders Kenny Gilbert and Jurie Meyer are hanging on to their lead in the motorcycle and quad categories respectively, but Gilbert is only nine points ahead of Dakar Challenge winner Ruan Roberts (Yamaha) with Michael Pentecost (Yamaha) and Altus de Wet (Husqvarna) tied on points right behind him.
Pentecost is also leading the OR3 (200cc) championship while Gilbert, Roberts and De Wet are first, second and third in the OR1 (Open Class) standings.
Jono van Wyk (KTM) is currently 11th overall but has taken the lead in the OR2 (250cc) championship, leading Timmy Young (Yamaha) by nine points with Dillon Inggs (KTM), who jumped from 11th to third in class after a class win in Botswana, close behind.
In the combined OR3/OR4 championship, Pentecost leads team mate Brandon Youell comfortably while Bernard McGee (Yamaha) has moved up from sixth to third. Louw Schmidt (KTM) still leads the OR4 (Under 21) standings from Taki Bogiages (KTM) and local rider Estiaan Steenkamp (Husqvarna) who will now be competing in OR1.
After two wins in Botswana, Taye Perry (KTM) has taken the lead in the Ladies Class.
Yamaha stalwart Brian Baragwanath kick-started his season with a win in Botswana, moving up to second overall, 13 points behind Meyer and six points ahead of local hero John Aylward (Yamaha) from Kokstad, who could not finish the third round in Botswana.
Meyer, Baragwanath and Aylward are also first, second and third respectively in Q1, with Rorke Millar (Can-Am) and Freddie Taljaard (Suzuki) one point apart in fourth and fifth overall after consistent results in Botswana.
Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) was third overall and leading the Q2 standings, but dropped to 10th overall after he could not finish either of the two races in Botswana. He is now second in Q2 behind new class leader Oz Osbourne (Yamaha) and only three points ahead of Justin Robert (Suzuki).
Jacques 'Boesman' Struwig (Suzuki) lost his Senior Quad Class lead with a DNF on Day 1 in Botswana and is now third in class and fifth overall, while Mtubatuba rider Paul Chomse (Yamaha Banshee) is the new Senior Class leader after solid results in Botswana, 10 points clear of Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki) and 20 ahead of Struwig.
Unstoppable Can-Am rider Liezel Barnard, however, is still leading the Ladies Quad Class.
The Bell 400 will start on Saturday 20 July at 8.30am, with motorcycle and quad riders tackling different loops from the Waverly Farm in the Kambula area outside Vryheid. Competitors will return after each lap to the race venue, which will also serve as the central service point, and will finish there after 380km of racing. Spectators are welcome.