Thaba ‘Nchu, Free State - The 2017 RFS Auto Bike Econorun, run over two days across a chilly Free State at the weekend, became something of an endurance test as well as a trial of throttle control and riding skill, as wind, potholes and unfamiliar territory tested the mettle of the contestants.
And lest you think the Econorun is an old fart’s doddle, remember that each section has to be completed in a given time, usually equivalent to an average of about 80 percent of the speed limit - and for every minute that you’re late, a penalty of half a litre gets added to your actual fuel usage.
But that doesn’t allow for such things as weather or heavy traffic; for instance, a target speed of 100km/h on the N1 sounds like a walk in the park, and early on a Sunday morning it probably would be. Mid-morning on a busy Friday, however, it requires nerves of steel and a total disregard for personal safety!
Unsurprisingly, the overall winner was the smallest bike in the field, a sporty little 150cc Yamaha R15, ridden with commendable alacrity by Gareth Floweday, who used a grand total of 22.651 litres of petrol to ride 899km - that’s 2.519 litres per 100km in very real-world conditions - on a wide variety roads, incurring not a single penalty along the way.
Second was experienced Econorunner Denver Biggs, on another Class A lightweight - a BMW G310 - who recorded 3.151 litres per 100km. But the biggest surprise of the 2017 Econorun - and the biggest winner - was rookie Eleanore Grobler from Pretoria, who finished third overall with 3.328 litres per 100km on her BMW F800S sports-tourer.
In addition to the trophy for third place, she won Class C for twin-cylinder machines from 501-800cc and also took home the awards for Top Lady and Top Rookie. Respect.
Class A (up to 500cc) Gareth Floweday - Yamaha R15 - 2.519 litres/100km
Class B (Single cylinder above 501cc) Willie Duvenhage - BMW G650 Sertao - 3.377
Class C (Twin cylinder 501-800cc) Eleanore Grobler - BMW F800S - 3.328
Class D (Multis 501-1000cc, road twins 801-1000cc) Glynese de Villiers - Ducati ST4S - 4.172
Class E (Road bikes 1001cc and larger) Udo Paro - BMW R1200 RS - 4.046
Class F (Adventure tourers up to 1000cc) - Dave Leech - BMW F700 GS - 3.559
Class G (Adventure tourers above 1001cc) - Justin Seager - BMW R1200 GS - 4.396
Class H (950-1250cc with pillion) - Philip & Sharon de Kock - Triumph Tiger - 4.821
Class I (1251cc or larger with pillion) - Hennie & Rita Ter Stege - BMW K1600 GT - 4.767
Class J (1001cc and larger with panniers) Jan Glaser - BMW R1200 RT - 4.509
Class K (Cruisers 1001cc and larger) Vincent van Dyk - Harley Fat Boy - 4.997
Class L (Open: Modified or older than 15 years) Morne Combrink - BMW R1200 GS - 4.429
First Lady: Eleanore Grobler - BMW F800S - 3.328
First Novice: Eleanore Grobler - BMW F800S - 3.328
Battlers Award: Andre Klopper - BMW R1200 GS - DNF