Gutzeit is leading the overall standings and E1 (Open Class) after winning twice this season. He has also won the Castrol Winterberg Enduro three times (2003, 2005 and 2010) and will no doubt aim for more victories while Birch, who is the defending title holder and winner of this event last year, would like to also win again. Birch has been plagued by injuries and could not finish two events this season. He has managed to pull himself back into the overall top ten (he is ninth overall) and a good result will help his cause.
De Wet has (provisionally) won the Humansdorp event and was the Castrol Winterberg Enduro winner in 2009. After recently claiming the OR2 title in the national off-road championship, albeit injured, he would hope to be injury-free and to claim more victories to possibly better his fourth place on the Liquorland Enduro Championship overall standings as well as in E2.
They will have their hands full with more possible race winners – Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Broadlink KTM) is the new national off-road title holder and has also won this event in 2004, but he has not yet won overall this season. He is second (13 points behind Gutzeit) on the overall standings and a victory will look good on his 2012 list. Defending E2 (200cc) champion, Marc Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) is leading E2, but has had some bad luck and is third overall (10 points ahead of De Wet who could not finish the opening round).
Behind them the battle will continue between riders who would like to better their overall standings as well as their positions in the class championships. Scott Bouverie (Comsol BELL ACR KTM) is fifth overall – a mere two points behind De Wet – and is second in E2 while Wade Young (Fever Criterion Yamaha) is trailing him by three points on the overall standings and in the E2 championship. Kenny Gilbert (Yamaha) is seventh overall, one point ahead of Darryl Curtis (Brother Broadlink KTM) and both riders will aim for a good result. Curtis has probably been competing in the most Castrol Winterberg Enduro events, but a victory has forever escaped him.
Birch is sharing the same amount of points with Riaan van Niekerk (Brother Broadlink KTM) who rounds off the top ten with Bradley van Aswegen (Kargo Racing Yamaha) 11th, one point ahead of Blake Gutzeit (Fever Criterion Yamaha) who has broken his leg in July and Brian Capper (Red Bull KTM) who would also like to finish in the top ten. Yamaha riders, James Hodson (Team Liquorland Racing) and Timothy Young (Kargo Racing) round off the top 15 – Young will however not be competing as he has injured his back at the recent off-road race at Sun City.
An interesting situation has developed in the Senior Class championship where the ding-dong battle between the defending champion and current leader, William Gillitt (Comsol BELL Yamaha) and Jodi Engelbrecht (Fever Criterion Yamaha) will continue. Both have won twice this season and Engelbrecht would like to close the gap of two points and to regain the lead again.
The rest are somewhat behind with Engelbrecht’s team-mate, Bruce Gargan, third ahead of Ryan Struckman (Team Liquorland Racing Yamaha) who has claimed three podium positions, but was injured at the last national enduro in June and could not finish the race. Peter Jung (Wildcoast KTM / UMSO Ribco) currently rounds off the top five. Good results by outsiders who are not in the running for the title or final podium positions can however upset the applecart.
Something unusual will have to happen to dethrone Marc Torlage’s experienced father, Denzil (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who is the defending Master Class champion. Torlage has won all his races since February 2009 and seems to be unstoppable. Graydon Ilderton (Nomadik Tents KTM) has been scoring consistently and is safe in second place, although within reach of third-placed Carl Rohrbeck (KTM). Mark du Plessis (KTM Cape Town) did not compete in the Gauteng event and has dropped to fourth place where he is now four points behind Rohrbeck, a situation he would like to rectify. Spot Martin (Team Liquorland Racing KTM) currently rounds off the top five.
Every year the Castrol Winterberg Enduro attracts many ‘new’ riders who enter the event for the first time. Most compete in the Silver Class Challenge where they have to complete 75% of the full race distance. The competition in this class will again be healthy, but Riaan van der Walt (Diamond Vlei Farm KTM) has quite a strong lead (23 points) ahead of Devon Owen (KTM) who will not be allowed to breath as both Anton Bekker (KTM) and Terence Shacklady (Yamaha) are only three points behind him – the battle for the podium positions will be on!
Heavy rains have fallen in the Eastern Cape and wet conditions are expected for the 2012 Castrol Winterberg Enduro. All the action will take place from the Loerie Ruskamp situated about 16km along the R331 towards Hankey. Spectators can share in the action and will be able to get to good view points. They can also share in all the festivities arranged by the organisers, the Rover Motorcycle Club. The race will start on Saturday, 18 August, at 08h00 at the Loerie Ruskamp.