The first round of the National Cross Country series took riders into the heart of Jolivet - a serene green pocket of KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 250km’s were presented and included Natal’s trademark terrain like lush forests and sugar cane fields.
It was multiple national champion Kenny Gilbert who kicked off the 2019 season with silverware for his PEPSON PLASTICS HUSQVARNA RACING team.
Unusual to National Cross Country events, the country’s top enduro specialists like Wade Young and Travis Teasdale were in amongst the mix of competitors. After an action-packed day of racing, Gilbert managed to step up to the OR1 challenge and secure third place overall.
The Natal event marked Gilbert’s return to racing since his grueling ten-day desert venture for the 2019 Dakar Rally. After coming painfully close to winning the National championship last season, Gilbert commented:
“It’s good to be back – especially with a race like this. I really enjoy how tight the trails are in Natal! I came so close to winning the championship last year, so I’m determined to maximise every point I can get this season.”
It was also a significant race for PEPSON PLASTICS HUSQVARNA RACING teammate Taki Bogiages.
The rider suffered a major setback at the end of the 2018 when he crashed at a local cross country race in Gauteng. After four months of intensive rehab, the 22-year old was elated to reclaim his place at the start line. While an 8th place overall is a slow start to the season for Bogiages by his own high standards, he was relieved have even finished the event.
“Today was my first time racing again – I’ve been dreaming about this day since I got injured and worked really hard to get here. I got the finish line with the best result that I possibly could. I’m not used to racing so hard yet, but I’m really positive about what lies ahead and can’t wait to be back where I want to be,” said Bogiages.
Rounding out the team was Master’s rider Iain Pepper, who also eased back into racing after a recent operation.
“All I wanted to do was finish today, especially after getting less training than I’d hoped to after the op. Fitness is definitely something that I have to work on going into the next round, but I’m confident that I’ll get back into the swing of things quickly,” said Pepper.
As the first round of the premier series drew to a close, Husqvarna South Africa’s Brand Manager Fred Fensham gave a closing comment, “It’s the end of a really tough day for the boys – Kenny gave everything to secure that podium spot and got some solid points in the bag for the season ahead. I’m also really proud of Taki and Iain who both overcame a setback and fought to get to that finish line today.”
Published by: Husqvarna Media
Picture Caption: Kenny Gilbert at the 2019 National Cross Country season opener in Jolivet.
Photography by: www.zcmc.co.za
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