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Strongest Trademore Cross Country Moto field in years ready to race

What    Trademore SA Cross Country 2023 Preview
Where    Legends Farm, Pretoria
When    Saturday 4 March 2023
Community    South Africa National

The 2023 Trademore Group South African Cross Country Motorcycle championship promises to be the hardest fought in many a year. The most competitive field many care to remember limbers up for the opening round at Legends near Pretoria on Saturday 4 March.

The sport is enjoying support unprecedented for several years as five motorcycle manufacturers prepare to field full factory teams across the various classes, with several strong privateer entries ready to ride interference. KTM, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Honda and Sherco are all vying for their share of that Cross Country pie.

It’s also all change at the head of the overall field, and in most of the classes too. Reigning double SA National overall and OR2 Cross Country and Enduro champion Brett Swanepoel has moved across to lead the new Sherco factory team. Open Class OR1 champion Mike Pentecost has shifted to Honda, OR3 champion Matthew Wilson continues with KTM, and High School champion Wian Wentzel graduates to OR3 with Kawasaki.

Pentecost will have his work cut out in open class 450cc OR1, not just from Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda, teammates Gareth Cole and Hayden Louw, but also from a crack field of rival teams. 2021 SA champion Bradley Cox will be keen to put a tough 2022 behind him on his factory Brother Leader Tread KTM, while Pepson Plastics Kawasaki duo Jaycee Nienaber and Taki Bogiages, who steps up from OR3, have a point to prove too. Never ignore the privateers, including Jeandre Olivier’s Steamworks Husqvarna.

350cc 2OR2 promises to be another 2023 Cross Country melting pot. Brett Swanepoel is the centre of attention there. Will he race a Trademore Sherco, or will he step back up to OR1? Former Factory Husqvarna teammate Davin Cocker steps up from OR3 to defend that team’s title, while Swanepoel’s closest rival last year, Scott Heygate’s progress on his Brother Leader Tread KTM will be another most interesting 2023 highlight. The privateers are always ready to surprise, not least of all Kyle Eggar on his Durban KTM.

250cc OR3 promises to be one of the hardest-fought classes in the 2023 Trademore SA Cross County Championship. Matthew Wilson will be out to defend his title on his Brother Leader Tread KTM, but he will have his hands more than just full. High School champion Wian Wentzel has a point to prove, while 5-time former SA motocross champion Ryan Angilley brings an epic new angle on a pair of Pepson Plastics Kawasakis. 2022 OR3 runner-up Ryan Pelser also has it all to do now that he has been appointed a Husqvarna Factory pilot.

Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda has no less than four factory CRF 250 RFs in OR3. Team newcomer and fourth last year, John Botha rides alongside regulars Haydn Cole and Tyron Beverley, and High School alumna Noah Maartens. Watch for two more hot High School graduates in Ross Ramseyer’s Durban KTM and Cobus Bester on a Berm Husqvarna. Branden Swanepoel is another quick OR3 man, alongside lady racer Terri-lyn Hodge in a pair of Trademore Shercos.

Senior champion Kenny Gilbert and his Pepson Plastics Kawasaki will miss the opening round due to other commitments, but he will have his work cut out to fight back considering the quality of his rivals this year. Starting with new Senior for 2023, Brother Leader Tread KTM rider Kerim Fitz-Gerald, who showed great pace in OR2 last year, never mind Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda duo Wynand Delport and Gerhard Vorster, KTM rider Mielies Le Roux and Husqvarna man Wayne Farmer.

Masters should also be most entertaining in 2023. The enigmatic Warrick van Schalkwyk who showed great pace last year, switches to a Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda this year, while former motocrosser and ZX10 Masters track rider Brian Bontekoning will race a Pepson Plastics Kawasaki among the Cross Country madalas this year.

With most of last year’s field growing out of the class, National High School 125s will have a fresh look for 2023. Sixth last year Nathan Westerdale should be among the favourites alongside fellow KTM riders, Rory Donaldson, Durban lad Thomas Scales and Fast kid Michael Struik. Daniel Peckham promises to be a factor on his Trademore Sherco, while Junior graduates, Johandre Vermaak’s Franchise Co Tork Craft Honda and Jayden Boyce Pepson Plastics Kawasaki, should be well in the High School mix.

Talking of the Juniors, expect the 85cc action to go down between Franchise Co Tork Craft Honda duo Murray Smith and Jaden Els and Pepson Plastics Kawasaki pair Jake Pretorius and Nathan Sinclair. Add KTM trio Franco Fourie, Mackenzie Bam and Alexander Dillman, and Husqvarna three, Willem Botha, Nicol Smit, and Bricen Duister. The 65cc Junior kids will also be back at Legends, with Liam Scheepers’ Franchise Co Tork Craft Honda GJ Coetzee on a Husqvarna and Matthew Meyer’s GasGas among them.

The 2023 Trademore Group South African Cross Country Motorcycle championship promises great action when it fires up at Legends Adventure Farm on the R515 in Rhino Park near Pretoria on Saturday 4 March. Entry fee is an attractive R950 thanks to Trademore Group support and there will even be a leisure class at a R350 entry including riders’ one day license.

Issued on behalf of Trademore SA Cross Country

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