Branch wins Wesbank Trophy

In the Kings’ Class Open/125 absolute top sport was offered. While current champion Ronnie Adams grabbed the hole shot once more, he had to acknowledge during the course of the race that fellow competitors were much fitter than he was.

He fell back and Ross Branch seized the lead after only a few hundred metres. The only one who could keep up with him was Michael Swanepoel, who at 39 years of age decided to try it once again. Swanepoel already won the South African Championships in the late 1980s and has collected numerous Namibian Champion titles in all classes ever since. Those who saw him ride can confirm that he hasn’t lost a bit of his skill.

An impressive race was delivered by young Alexander Howard, a real possibility for the 2007 title. He has improved noticeably in the last three months.

Another rider who, after a three-year absence, has found his way back to the sport is ex-champion Arno Engels. His achievement was respectable, but his fitness could definitely be better. Engels will have to work on that.

Sascha Becker was the third in the bunch of newcomers. He too rode splendidly after a two-year interval, taking a good seventh place in the Wesbank King of the Dirt race.

Frank Klosta, champion in the 125cc class, was disappointed with his overall fourth rank, which is under his usual level. His Yamaha’s engine did not perform up to standard.

After this great opening, everyone is already looking forward to the next race on the 10th of March.

Overall Results Open/125

1. Ross Branch, BOTSWANA, Kawasaki, 60 points

2. Alexander Howard, Windhoek, Seasonaire-Yamaha, 47

3. Mike Swanepoel, Windhoek, Mike’s Motorcycle Services-KTM, 45

4. Frank Klosta, Windhoek, Refrigeration Services-Yamaha, 39

5. Ronnie Adams, Kapps-Farm, Suzuki-Namibia, 32

6. Arno Engels, Windhoek, J & L Thatching-Honda, 29

7. Henry O’Kennedy, Windhoek, Tomar Construction-Honda, 25

8. Bj’rn Bierbrauer, Windhoek, EL Sea Products-Suzuki, 23

9. Jose Texeira, ANGOLA, Porto do Lobito-Suzuki, 20

10. Eckhard Hall, Swakopmund, Coastal Racing-Honda, 17

A novum was the introduction of the Speed-Cross Class, a class for “Oldie” riders, initiated by ex-champion Doolie Engels. According to the rider’s individual handicap, the X-racers start at various positions on the track ‘ which, despite the effort of the track commentator, wasn’t fully understood by the spectators. The quicker rider has to chase the respective rival in front of him and beat him within four laps. We will wait and see whether this concept has a future. Ian Kotze won ahead of Stephan Gradtke and Doolie Engels.

In the Clubmen’s Class the number of riders was pretty low again, which is sad if one considers the fact that in the past this category had the highest number of participants. These heats were overshadowed by Iwan Esterhuizen’s bad crash; he landed askew after the Table-jump, overturned, and landed in the haystacks. Mark Ratheiser from Okahandja made a very strong first place, followed by Esterhuizen and Santos.

Despite negative comments, the 50cc Kindergarten Class lives! Young Michael Barlow won with the maximum number of points ahead of William Smith and the siblings from Gobabis, Esranel and Yoshua Becker. It is hoped that more parents will now opt for this great sport.

The 65cc Class offered excitement as well. Here Eric Garbers achieved the maximum number of points, leaving Pauli Loots in second place. Matthew Nederlof, last year’s 50cc class champion, drove his debut on his big bike and landed in a very good third place. Behind him, Lee-Anne Smith and Joshua Texeira made second and third respectively.

Another highlight were the races in the 85cc Class. Mark Sternagel, last year’s champion in the 65cc Class, lived up to his reputation as “Mr Maximum” and won with a maximum number of points in front of his rival Jaco Loots. That left only third rank for the quick artist, Schalk Louw from Swakopmund.

The Quads-Classes are well-favoured by the spectators. It was just unbelievable how many participants showed up for this season’s opening race ‘ 31 riders in all ‘ and they produced a high-class performance!

In the Quads-B-Class up to 240cc, Eugene Slippers lived up to all expectations and won with the maximum number of points ahead of his rivals Ecki Spoerer and Empi Pretorius.

The protagonists in the Quads-A-Class, 4-Wheelers with more than 240cc, were all suffering a bit, especially current champion Ronnie Adams, who had to pay the price in the Wesbank Quads-King of the Dirt, for riding both MX and Quads races.

In the overall rankings, ex-champion Fanie Steenkamp won with 50 points, ahead of Ronnie Adams with the same number of points, and Dirk Baard from Walvisbay landed on third place with 47 points.

The races in the Quads-Clubmen’s Class were also filled with exciting battles and after three heats the overall winner was Wolfgang Rohe, who left Michael Behnke and Andr’ Steinfurth behind him.

The former ladies’ Powder-Puff Class takes place this season under the title Quads Ladies-Class. Liezl Davies was victorious over Bollie Bochert and Lee-Anne Greyling.

The Quads also have a Kindergarten-Class, the Mini-Quads, and here Sun’ Garbers won ahead of Jaques Maree and Marko Snyman.

After the award ceremony, the party started to the beat of Namibia’s DJ-Coco and in the beer barn, hosted by Joker’s Pizzaria & Sports Bar. The dancing went on until morning dawned.

February 2007
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