The door to the 2017 SA National Cross Country Championship for Motorcycles and Quads was kicked open by a challenging Lichtenburg 400 and the first points towards the various title chases are now on the scoreboard. Fitness as well as the new structure of the national championship played a major role in the outcome of the results and a lot of hard work awaits many riders for the rest of the season.
The new season saw a shuffle of riders in various class championships while a few new names as well as names of motocross riders and riders making a comeback to the sport, appear on the results.
In the motorcycle category, the current OR1 (Open) champion, Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) started defending his title successfully with a victory and he now leads the standings, albeit by a mere three points from former champion, Tim Young (Sherco Liqui Moly Racing) with motocross ace, Tristan Purdon (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing) third in OR1. Kenny Gilbert (Husqvarna) and Louw Schmidt (Brother Leader Tread KTM) could not score points at Lichtenburg and both will fight back with a vengeance for podium positions.
The same scenario might play itself out in OR2 (250cc) and the current situation can quickly change during the season. Brett Swanepoel (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna) took the win and the points lead with Marius Venter (KTM) second and Ruan Smith (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) rounding off the podium. Fourth-placed Jaycee Nienaber (Super Moose KTM) and Cameron Becker (KTM) are fifth and sixth with Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Leader Tread KTM) hot on their heels and they will all be in the battle for top honours.
Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing) leads the OR3 (200cc) championship after taking his first off-road victory. He currently leads Wilhelm Schönfeldt (BCR Arrow Yamaha Racing) and Jarryd Coetzee (Brother Leader Tread KTM) and suggestions are that this fight will continue during the season.
After a hat trick of Senior Class championships, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Leader Tread KTM) started the 2017 season with yet another victory, but his opposition is ready to attack. Bruce Viljoen (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) is second and trails him by three points while the 2016 runner-up, Wynand Kleynhans (Sherco Liqui Moly Racing) is some five points behind and the rest will have to play catch-up.
It was a difficult start to the season for the youngsters in the High School championship and only three riders managed to score points. The defending champion, Stefan van Deventer (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) claimed the victory and leads Juan-Pierre de Villiers (KTM) with Maarten van Jaarsveld (Husqvarna) third.
The battle of the champions has started in the Master Class where Pieter Holl (KTM) drew the first blood. The current champion, Wayne Farmer (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) is second and this duel will get interesting during the season. Faan van Deventer (KTM) can throw a spanner in the works from his third place as can Justin Broughton (Sherco Liqui Moly Racing) who is currently fourth, seven points behind Holl.
KTM took the lead in the running for the Manufacturers Award and leads Husqvarna by 37 points with Yamaha third, 16 points behind and Sherco fourth, 26 points behind the Japanese manufacturer.
In the quad category, Russell Ferreira (Yamaha) took the early lead in the Open Class after taking the overall victory at Lichtenburg. He will feel the pressure from now on as the 2016 runner-up, Johan Oosthuizen (VANS Racing Division Yamaha) started his season on a good note by finishing second while Pierre van Heerden (Honda) is third and Ruan Stander (Yamaha) fourth. The defending champion, Hannes Saaijman (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing Yamaha) had to settle for fifth place after some problems and he now trails Ferreira by nine points, he will have an uphill battle to reclaim his title.
Gideon Jacobs (KTM) was a victim of the challenging route and had to call it a day while leading the race. He is a dark horse who can upset the applecart during the rest of the season.
Two Botswana riders have locked horns in the Master Quad Class championship with Motsumi Lekone (Yamaha) leading Sidney Rankgate (Yamaha) while Keenan Hammon (Yamaha) leads the High School Class and scholar Megan Stander (GVS Racing Vryburg) is the leader in the Ladies Quad Class.
Yamaha leads the Manufacturers Award standings followed by Honda, Suzuki and Polaris.
For the second round, the SACCS Moto will move to Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal where the Battlefields 400 will take place on 12 and 13 May.