Patensie, Eastern Cape - Defending SA Enduro title holder and E1 (200cc) Class champion Wade Young (KTM) nailed his fourth win in five races so far this year at the Winterberg Enduro in the Gamtoos Valley on Saturday (6 September).
It was a close-run thing, however, with only seconds separating most of the riders.
The three-lap course for the Winterberg, penultimate round of the 2014 Enduro season, was made up of three Special Stages; the fastest times of the nine stages counted towards the final result for E1 and E2 competitors.
Competitors described the route as being challenging and tough with many riders unable to complete the regularity sections within the prescribed times.
Young posted the fastest times in most of the stages; Altus de Wet (Husqvarna), who won the E2 (Open Class) for the fourth time this season and finished as the overall runner-up (also for the fourth time!) also took a stage win while De Wet's team-mate, Blake Gutzeit won two stages and shared a third with Young's team-mate Travis Teasdale.
The race-long battle between Young and De Wet ended with only 43 seconds separating them as each won his respective class and kept his lead in the class championships, as well as their overall standings.
Behind them a tight run for the final podium position saw Teasdale beat Yamaha's Brett Swanepoel by exactly one second to finish second in E1 with Swanepoel rounding off the E1 podium, fourth overall. Gilbert won the final stage despite hurting his ankle early in the race, finishing second in E2 and rounding off the overall top five.
The only other race winner so far this season, Louwrens Mahoney (KTM), took third in E2, 28 seconds behind Gilbert in sixth overall, just 18 seconds ahead of Dwayne Kleynhans (KTM).
Brett Lewis (Husqvarna) was eighth (fourth in E2), Charan Moore (Yamaha) ninth overall and fifth in E2 with Henco Botha (KTM) rounding off the top 10 overall and finishing fifth in E1.
The Senior Class championship was turned on its head as Hilton Hayward (Yamaha), who has finished second in each round so far this season, took his first win while class leader and defending champion William 'Wild Bill' Gillitt (Yamaha) finished third.
That cut Gillit's lead to just two points with one enduro to go and set up a winner-takes-all scenario for the season finale at Matatiele in the Eastern Cape on 25 October.
Surprisingly, it was Bruce May (Yamaha), who finished second in the class, who won four of the six Special Stages on the Senior Class route, with Hayward the fastest on the other two - although, in the end, only 51 seconds separated the three.
Local Port Elizabeth rider, Juan 'Bollie' van Rooyen (KTM), a former Winterberg winner, competed in his first national enduro this year and finished fourth with Gillitt's team-mate Stephen Landman, rounding off the top five.
Normal service was resumed, however, in the Master Class as multiple former off-road and enduro champion Alfie Cox (KTM) took his fifth straight win of the season, 72 seconds ahead of defending class champion Denzil Torlage (Yamaha), with Husqvarna rider Garth Prost rounding Master Class podium.