Bike/Quad Irvine Bell preview

* 4th Round of the SA National Off-road Quad Championship * 5th Round of the SA National Off-road Motorcycle Championship VARIOUS MOTORCYCLE AND QUAD RIDERS ABLE TO WIN IRVINE BELL OFF-ROAD CHALLENGE With the upcoming Irvine Bell Off-road...

* 4th Round of the SA National Off-road Quad Championship
* 5th Round of the SA National Off-road Motorcycle Championship


With the upcoming Irvine Bell Off-road Challenge forming the fourth and fifth rounds of the SA national off-road championships for quad and motorcycle competitors respectively, one thing is for certain - anyone of a handful of riders can win this race that will take place on Friday and Saturday, 6 and 7 July, in the Empangeni area in KwaZulu-Natal.

Four races and four different winners - that is the current situation in the motorcycle category with Mekatrade AGA LG Red Bull KTM riders Darryl Curtis, Riaan van Niekerk and Barry Kriel all with a victory behind their names while Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic) winning the recent Toyota 1000 Desert Race.

But after a consistent season including three podium positions, the orange team's Spencer Kriel is leading the overall championship as well as the Open Class. In the overall standings, Kriel has a 12 point lead over Curtis who is again only three points ahead of Clayton Enslin (Natro Freight Indy Oil Motorite Beta) while only a single point separates Dick from Enslin. Juan "Bollie" van Rooyen (Sadiba Russell Campbell Kawasaki) is the closest to the frontrunners and is 12 points behind Dick in fifth place.

Only two quad riders have won so far this season - Shaun Gunther (Duncan Racing RN Honda TRX450) is leading the overall and Pro 450 Class championships after winning twice this season with Jacques "Boesman" Struwig (Southern ATV 350 Laeger) winning once. But consistency again played a big role in the extremely competitive quad championship and after consistent finishes including two second places, Vincent Loubser (Loerie Yamaha YFZ450) is hot on Gunther's heels in both the overall and Pro 450 Class championships.

Carl Wichmann (Can-Am SA Racing) is third overall and leading the Pro Open Class and local knowledge might work to the advantage of this Wartburg farmer who is on of the frontrunners in the the KZN regional off-road championship. Struwig, who is fourth overall, would like to get his title onslaught back on track after not finishing the recent Botswana event.

He is only one and a half point ahead of Rustenburg youngster, Karel Groenewald (ATV Powersport Yamaha YFZ450) who is again a mere two points ahead of Glen Loubser (Loerie Yamaha YFZ450) while three and a half points separate Loubser from the leading Senior Class rider, Ockert Mans (Suzuki LTR450) who is seventh overall.

All the motorcycle competitors will race only on Friday, 6 July, with the quads participating on the same 118 kilometre loop on Saturday, 7 July. And while the top riders will battle it out for the overall and class laurels, the rest will give it their all to strengthen their positions in both national (and regional) and class standings. Gavin Louw (The Roost Kawasaki), Kyle Poppleton (Mekatrade AGA LG Red Bull KTM), Wayne Farmer (Mean Machine Gas Gas); Wynand Kleynhans (Team ORD Honda) and Wade Blaauw (Team ORD Yamaha) are regular top ten finishers and would like to better their positions in the overall top ten standings.

But local Richard's Bay heroes, 17-year old Theo Potgieter (Ramco Suzuki) who ruffled a few feathers between the usual frontrunners with his 125cc Suzuki as well as Markus Taljaard (ECS Alfie Cox KTM) and his KZN team-mate from Ixopo, Craig Stone, might use their knowledge of the type of terrain to their benefit to score good results again. Hylton Smith (The Roost KTM) is also a local competitor who will feel at home at Empangeni and it might show in his results.

There are, however, also a few outsiders in the quad category who might upset the applecart at the Irvine Bell Off-road Challenge. Both Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha YFZ450) and Leander Pienaar (Can-Am SA Racing) have not scored points in the overall championship this season, but if they can keep their racing equipment together, they might be a thorn in the sides of the normal frontrunners. Local Durban rider, Ricky da Silva (CDT Containers Yamaha YFZ450) has not been participating on national level this year, but finished the season in eighth place last year and is capable of a podium finish.

Can-Am SA Racing's Hendrik Potgieter and Cornel de Villiers (BRP Renegade) as well as ATV Powersport's Jacques Breedt (Lonestar Honda) and Gerrie Prinsloo (Lonestar Bombardier) has all been fast this season and they are earmarked for top ten positions. Good points are also on the cards for regular scorers Juan Meyer and Dale Stock (Suzuki LTR450); Simon Thesen (Quadworx Yamaha YFZ450) and Stefan Swanepoel (Yamaha YFZ450).

Competitors in the Senior Class of the quad category are also scoring towards the overall championship and the youngsters will have to be on the lookout for Samuel Ungerer (ATV Powersport Lonestar Honda), Izak and Ockert Mans (Suzuki LTR450) and CJ Smith (Bombardier) who have finished in the top ten earlier this season.

The battle will also be on in the Ladies Class where Vryheid rider, Amanda Eardly (Can-Am SA Racing Renegade) is leading Karen Wentworth (Auto Motorcycles Suzuki LTR450) by three and a half points while Milton Thesen (Quadworx Yamaha) is leading Gerrie Keesmaat (Bombardier) in the Master Class.

In the motorcycle championship Shaun Kirk (Ramco Suzuki) and Dudley Smith (Bike Husqvarna) are sharing the lead in the Senior Pro Championship with local KZN rider, Kingsley Nurden (ECS Alfie Cox KTM) not too far behind them.

Motorcycle competitors will start documentation and scrutineering for the Irvine Bell Off-road Challenge on Friday, 6 July, at 06h30. The first rider according to the seeding list (Spencer Kriel) will tackle the 118 kilometre loop at 09h00 from the air strip at Empangeni. National competitors will have to complete this loop three times and will finish at the air strip again.

On Saturday, 7 July, the quad competitors will follow the same time schedule and route structure.


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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Craig Stone , Riaan van Niekerk