TWO Port Elizabeth bike riders, Juan van Rooyen and Timmy Young, excelled in the opening round of the 2014 National Off-road Motorcycle Championship at the Diamond Route 400 near Wolmaransstad, in North West province, last weekend.
Van Rooyen, 39, who won the senior class for motorcycles, came 10th overall while Young, 20, finished sixth in the open class.
The race was contested over a gruelling 360km and the motorcycles and quad riders started the race in pairs.
Their starting order was determined according to the results of a seeding event held in Bronkhorstspruit earlier this year.
Young started the national championship race in the front row, while Van Rooyen began in sixth.
The rain during the week prior to the race resulted in the route being mostly damp and dust was limited, while the stretch through the farm lands and diamond quarries was rough. The fitness of the riders, and their mental fitness and competitiveness, were tested to the limit.
“We were expecting muddy conditions because of the rain but the track was enjoyable and a good mixture of everything – a lot of corners, rocks and riding fast in-between the trees,” Van Rooyen said this week.
“Fortunately I made sure I was prepared mentally and physically and my fitness was up to standard.”
Van Rooyen said the victory in the first round motivated him to train harder and put in even more effort before the second.
Young, who is the reigning 250cc National Off-road Series champion, competed in the open class category this year.
He crashed during the fourth of the six loops and bent his Kargo Racing Yamaha’s front wheel and handlebar, but fought back to finish sixth overall.
As little as six seconds separated the riders from second to sixth place.
The national event consists of six events and the next round will be held in Kimberley in April. – Mthetho Ndoni