|What||South African Cross Country Auto Round 3 Preview|
|Where||Matatiele, Eastern Province|
|When||Saturday 27 August 2021|
|Community||South Africa National|
SA Cross Country Motorcycles head back from lockdown lull
Notorious for gun-running and rustling in the mid-1800s, Matatiele is an interesting place. It means ’the ducks are gone’ in Sotho and has been part of the Cape Province, Natal and now, somewhat controversially, it’s actually part of the Eastern Province. A favourite venue for enduro racing over the years, it was also the overnight stop for the Roof of Africa in the ‘70s.
Now Matat is back on the South African Cross Country Motorcycle Championship calendar as the series finally bounces back from its most recent lockdown lull on Saturday 21 August. The all-new KZN Racing event will blend a little of everything, from sandstone river beds to craggy creaks, cattle paths, gum plantations and grass tracks, and even a little sand in between, when it traverses the foot of the Eastern Drakensberg, where crews will have a great vantage point off surrounding outcrops.
Like was in those wild, gun-running days 150 years ago, don’t expect any holds to be barred down Matat way this weekend. No single rider is in a safe championship position as SA's finest Cross Country Motorcycle racers limber up to resume battle. Not least of all reigning SA Cross Country and Enduro champion Brett Swanepoel who shares both the overall and open class OR1 class lead aboard his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna.
There’s a surprise behind Brett in the big class where Botswana lad D'artagnan Lobjoit sits second for the upstart Pepson Plastics Kawasaki Motul team in his tight battle with KZN duo Michael Pentecost’ now on a Franchise Company CIT Kawasaki and Sherco man Hayden Louw.
Another KZN star, Brother Leader Tread KTM lad Bradley Cox shares the overall championship lead with Swanepoel and the 300 cc OR2 class lead with Modimode winner Ian Rall's MCA Dragon Energy Husqvarna. They will need to keep an eye on motocross star Kerim Fitz-Gerald, who continues to improve his Cross Country game on his Red Bull KTM. Husqvarna lad Devan Smith, Kyle Eggar. Yamaha and KTM rider Ruan Merry will carry on their tight battle for fourth.
Gauteng lad Matthew Wilson’s MCA Husqvarna arrives at Matat in the effective 250cc OR3 title lead. Mathematically WIlson shares the lead with KZN RBS Yamaha star Dylan Cox, who will unfortunately sit at least this one out to injury. Scott Heygate and Haydn Cole’s KTM, Husqvarna lad Erik Merry and Taki Bogiages’ Kawasaki are all within eight points of WIlson in a tight chase. Opening race winner at Jolivet, Davin Cocker’s Rockstar Husqvarna is however the real quarter-litre danger here as he sets out to right his second round Modimole wrongs.
Free State star Wade Blaauw arrives in the EP unbeaten among the Seniors on his Roost KTM with Kawasaki man Deon du Toit is keeping him honest and Stuart Gregory’s KTM, Yamaha duo Marco Cocci and Elize Olivier and Brad Clarke's Husqvarna in pursuit. Greg Nairn’s Husqvarna is similarly unbeaten in Masters — he has Carel le Roux’s KTM, Yamaha men Marius de Klerk and Martin Poole, and Ernst Slabbert's KTM on his case.
First round winner, KTM kid Dylan Jones leads the High School class by a handful of points over round 2 winner, Branden Swanepoel’s Sherco. Dylan’s brother Damon Cox's Yamaha, John Botha’s Husqvarna and Derek Karam on a KTM in pursuit. Round 2 winner Thomas Scales leads the Junior chase on his KTM ahead of Husqvarna trio, Cobus Bester, Lucian Meyer and first Race Winner Brandon Clarke.
Husqvarna leads a super-tight manufacturer’s championship on 307 points with KTM just four behind on 303 and Yamaha in third under pressure from upstart Kawasaki.
The 2021 SA Cross Country Moto championship started in Jolivet in KwaZulu Natal, followed by round 2 at Modimolle in Limpopo. Those races played to the respective strengths of the KZN and Gauteng competitors. The coming three rounds will likely continue to do the same when the series heads to neutral territory Matat this weekend, before moving back up to Delmas on the Highveld and then back to the KZN and Virginia Trails in October.
Issued on behalf of Trademore SA Cross Country
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