Ashton, Western Cape - Defending SA Enduro champion Wade Young (KTM) took a hard-earned double victory at the Ashton National Enduro in scorching conditions at the weekend, winning both the second and third rounds of the series overall.
It was the first time in the modern history of the championship that competitors took on two races back-to-back and the fittest riders with the most determination and least mechanical problems bagged a lot of valuable points on a weekend where the temperature reached more than 35 degrees each day.
Seventeen-year-old Young won all the special stages on Friday - a short 'grass test' and a 10km Enduro Special that had to be completed three times each - and posted the fastest times on five of the six stages (three riders recorded the same time on the final grass test!) on Saturday to claim his third overall victory and E1 (200cc Class) win this season.
Competitors described the route as being 'hard on the body'; powdery dust and lack of wind made overtaking slower riders difficult and dangerous while extreme heat and two consecutive races made 'the Ashton' a real endurance test.
Local rider Altus de Wet, from nearby Montagu (Husqvarna) also bagged a hat trick when he won the E2 (Open Class) for the third time in 2014. He finished as the runner-up on both days despite crashing on Saturday, while Yamaha star Kenny Gilbert had to settle for sixth place (fourth in E2) on Saturday after finishing third overall and second in E2 on Friday.
Scott Bouverie (KTM) made up for missing the overall podium on Friday by just two points, with a third place on Saturday - but it was a close call as his team-mate, Louwrens Mahoney, was only one point behind him on the second day. Mahoney was not comfortable with his suspension set-up on Friday, finishing sixth overall and fourth in E2.
Travis Teasdale (KTM) recorded a fifth and a seventh overall (second and third in E1), while Brett Swanepoel ( KTM) bettered his seventh on Friday (third in E1) with fifth on Saturday (and second in E1).
Sherco rider Blake Gutzeit also struggled with his suspension set-up, finished eight overall on both days (fifth in E2 each time), while Yamaha's Charan Moore finished sixth in E2 on both days and stepped up from 11th overall on Friday to ninth the next day.
SENIORS AND MASTERS
Defending Senior Class champion, William 'Wild Bill' Gillitt (Yamaha) experienced mechanical problems on both days but managed to clinch the victory on Friday. The next day, however, he had to give best to Bruce May (Yamaha) who took the win after a disappointing fourth on Friday, having lost time after a crash.
Hilton Hayward (Yamaha) was the most consistent finisher - second on both days after coming second in the class at the season opener - while Jody Engelbrecht (KTM) dropped back from third on Friday to fifth on Saturday, and Gillitt's team mate Steve Landman, was fifth on Friday and fourth on Saturday.
The top five in the Master Class were the same on both days. At the front the expected battle between the season's first winner, Alfie Cox (KTM), and the defending champion, Denzil Torlage (Yamaha) continued. Cox took two more wins at Ashton, although on Friday only 21 points separated him from Torlage, who had to settle for two runner-up finishes.
JUST ONE LADY FINISHED
There was some close racing with not too many points separating Garth Prost (Husqvarna), who claimed the final podium position on both days ahead of Shaun Kirk (Beta) and Stephen Botha (Yamaha).
Toni Jardine (KTM) was the only lady to finish, coming home seventh in the Silver Class Challenge on both days, after Kirsten Landman (KTM) fell on Friday and broke her wrist.
The SA Enduro championship has now reached its halfway mark and competitors have a break of four months to prepare for the second half of the season that will continue on 23 July at Lydenburg in Mpumalanga.