There were Miss Piggy and Miss Piggy’s Sister and the Iron Bridge Valley as well as Leopard Creek, Mini Erzberg and the Mountainbike Downhill that was actually an uphill – all the names of section on the route of yet another successful Castrol Winterberg Enduro held this past weekend in the Loerie and Hankey areas in the Eastern Cape that will be remembered by competitors and spectators for some time.
The 37th Castrol Winterberg Enduro, sponsored by Castrol for the 34th time to make it the longest sponsorship of its kind in South Africa, took place under clear blue skies on Saturday (18 August) and more than 200 competitors from all over SA tackled the two loops from the Loerie Ruskamp in the mountainous area in the Gamtoos Valley. It was a feast for spectators who had the opportunity to get close to the racing action of which there were lots – river crossings, steep up- and downhills, rocky sections and a motocross-type track where huge tyres, logs, a muddy section in the river and some fast, sweeping sections through the trees supplied the heaps of entertainment.
The times posted by the competitors were supplied during the day and it was clear that the battle for the overall laurels was extremely close with the 2011 winner and title holder, the Kiwi Chris Birch (Comsol BELL ACR KTM), in the mix together with the triple former winner and current overall leader, Jade Gutzeit (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) and his team-mate and defending E2 (200cc) title holder, Marc Torlage, while youngster Wade Young (Fever Criterion Yamaha) posted blistering times during his first ever attempt of the famous Castrol Winterberg Enduro.
At the end it was the 16-year old Young who claimed his first overall victory in the Liquorland National Enduro Championship and added his name to the long list of winners of this special event. It was a very happy Young who said afterwards that he really enjoyed the race although the route was hard and rocky. “The special timed stages were just tough enough and you had to be fit to give your best,” he commented. “I did not have any problems and really enjoyed the race,” the happy youngster from Paddock in KwaZulu-Natal said.
The competitors completed the race after a long day in the saddle and were welcomed by spectators, enthusiasts and supporters who could choose from where to watch the action. The motocross-type track proved to be extremely popular with the racing action happening right in front of hundreds of onlookers who enjoyed the festive atmosphere. They also welcomed the 2011 title holder from New Zealand, Chris Birch (Comsol BELL ACR KTM) home who finished in a close second place although he made a small error on the mx-type track and crashed losing valuable seconds.
The 2003, 2005 and 2010 winner, Jade Gutzeit (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) admitted that he would have wanted another victory to add to his 2012 list (he has already won twice this season and is leading the overall standings) as well as to his list of Castrol Winterberg Enduro victories, but he raced safely so as to keep his lead in the standings with his aim yet another title at the end of the season.
Castrol representatives were assisting the race organisers (the Rover Motorcycle Club) and were proud to be associated with this event. Nandi Canning, PR and Sponsorship Manager at Castrol, commented that it is natural for Castrol as a premium product to link into an event such as the Castrol Winterberg Enduro. “We are proud to be part of the action together with a great team that has put this event together for the 34th year in succession,” she said.
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