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Podiums all-round in opening Cross Country National

What    Trademore SA National Cross Country Motorcycles Round 1 Report
Where    Legends Farm, Pretoria
When    Saturday 4 March 2023
Community    South Africa National

Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda Racing came home from the season opening Trademore South African National Cross Country season opener at Legends Park with a bag full of trophies and top results on Saturday.

Michael Pentecost led the charge in fifth overall and second in open class OR1, with teammates Gareth Cole and Hayden Louw third and fourth in class, both also in the overall top ten. Wynand Delport and Warrick van Schalkwyk added two more silver medals in the Seniors and Masters classes, all of the teams four OR3 riders were in the 250cc top ten, and its junior riders starred too.

“Wow, that was a tough, hard race so I’m happy to have opened the season with a strong result and a good points haul,” Mike Pentecost explained. “My bike was not set up for this extremely tight and rough terrain, so I kept my cool and rode as fast as I could in the conditions. “My Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda was still tip top throughout, the pitstops were seamless and my team was on point all the way. “Now for Jolivet – bring it on!”

“The track was really rough and demanding and it never quite suited my style, so it was a long day in the saddle and I had to stay focused,” Gareth Cole reflected. “I had a slow start with two silly falls early on, so I had to play catch up. “Still, all things considered, I’m happy to salvage third in class and seventh overall. A good result for the team and for the championship. “I’m also happy to come away ready to race the next one! “

“That was a decent start!” Hayden Louw admitted. “My great team put a huge effort into this first race as always, but my time trial never went as planned. “I started 24th, so I had a lot of work to do. “I pushed where I could and paced myself on the harder bits and in the dust and got into a good rhythm. “I’m chuffed with ninth overall and fourth in class with a long year of racing still ahead of us.”

Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda racing also had a great day with two seconds in the elder classes “It was very rough and the Legends track was demanding,” Wynand Delport reported after a fine second in the Senior category. “My team did great and my equipment was better than par on a tough day. “I need to work on a few little things before we head out to Jolivet in KwaZulu Natal for the next national Cross Country race. “I love racing in KZN!”

Warrick van Schalkwyk doubled up with an epic and close second in Masters. “My shoulder spasmed last week and my chiropractor did what she could,” Warrick explained. “My bike was great, and I led early on, but I had to pick it out of a rut and manage the pain after that. “Then I felt better on the last lap and passed Pieter Holl but I collided with my teammate John Botha in the dust near the end. “I got up and rode home a surprised and sore second.”

Four Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda CRF 250 RF finished in the OR3 class top ten. Haydn Cole came home fifth, Tyron Beverley eighth, Noah Maartens ninth, and John Botha in tenth.

Haydn Cole was happy with a positive start to his season and some decent points in the bag. “That’s a top five finish in the very competitive OR3 class, so all good!” Haydn confirmed. “I struggled a bit early on but got to grips with a very demanding and rough track as the race progressed. “I’m also happy to come away in one piece after a few crashes on the day.”

Tyron Beverley fought back to eighth in OR3 after hitting a rock and breaking a few spokes on his machine’s front wheel early in the race. He was forced to return to the pits to change wheels. “My Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda had amazing pace and felt good, but a bit of bad luck cost me some positions,” Tyron explained. “No matter, there’s plenty racing left in this championship and I’m ready for the next one!”

“Legends went well despite me making a bit of a dodgy start,” Noah Maartens pointed out. “It went better as the race progressed and I was happy with my fitness, while my bike ran like a beast from start to finish. “I’m really keen for the rest of the season, so huge  thanks to Uncle Harry Grobler and the Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda team for making it all possible

“My first National of the year turned out to be a super rough day,” John Botha admitted. “I struggled with my setup and I really can’t say much about it, but that’s racing, so onwards and upwards! “Big thanks to my Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda team, Uncle Harry, and my family for all the support. “I will be be back and ready at the next one!”

It was also a good day for Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Racing in the junior classes as Murray Smith took National 85 cc honours with Jaden Els sixth and Liam Scheepers seventh, while Johandre Vermaak came home 13th in the hugely competitive 125cc high school class.

“All in all, that was a rough, tough and difficult season opener,” Franchise Co Sleepover Tork Craft Honda Racing team boss Harry Grobler wrapped it up. “We scored three second places, a pile more podium positions and top ten finishes and our juniors also scored well. “That’s a great start to our national racing year and well done one and all, it’s just going to get better and better from here!”

*Honda Racing salutes its partners, Tork Craft Tools, The Franchise Co, Sleepover Motels, CIT Accessories, Motul Oils, Mitas, Leatt Protectives, Pollisport, TNT Nutrition, Galfermoto brakes & Nitro Mousse

Issued on behalf of Honda Cross Country

Photography by:  Action in motion

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