ORANJEVILLE, FREESTATE, SOUTH AFRICA
On the 7th February 2015 over 30 of South Africa’s finest riders descended on the small town of Oranjeville in the Free State, to battle it out for round 1 of the SAJSBA Nationals. With a fantastic line-up of 10 classes and 3 grueling moto’s the racing was expected to be thrilling.
The day started off with all the riders practicing on the challenging race track designed by 2013 Pro Runabout Open World Champion Jared Moore.
The racing began with the Novice Ski Limited Class which featured some promising novice riders. Moto 1 had a surprising start with a newcomer, Estiaan Steenkamp, taking the holeshot on his #48 Yamaha Superjet. Steenkamp has been racing in the South African off-road Motorcross Nationals for the past 13 years and has since decided to try watercraft racing. Marcel De Ponte slotted in to 2nd position on his #777 Kawasaki SXR with our youngest Novice rider Dwane Hayes, who is 16 years old, hot on his heels on his #259 Kawasaki SXR. On lap 2, Hayes managed to move up in to 2nd position, and on lap 4 he took first position away from Steenkamp. Hayes held on to 1st all the way to the checkered flag, with Steenkamp and De Ponte taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. In moto 2 of the Novice Ski Limited class Dwane Hayes took the holeshot but couldn’t hold off Estiaan Steenkamp as he took the lead on lap 2. Hayes did not give up and managed to take the lead back on lap 4 causing the moto 2 results to mimic moto 1. It was late in the afternoon when moto 3 of the Novice Ski Limited class was ready to line up, a storm was rolling in and the wind had picked up causing rough water conditions. Steenkamp took the holeshot and led the race from start to finish, Hayes crossed the finish line in a close 2nd, and rounding out the top 3 was Jake Fenenga. The Novice Ski Limited podium finishers were Marcel De Ponte in 3rd, Estiaan Steenkamp in 2nd and Dwane Hayes took the win.
Next up was the Veterans Runabout class, with some exhilarating racing. The podium was as follows: 1st Peter Britz on his #153 Seadoo Centre Sea-Doo RXP-X, 2nd was Christo Malan on his #5 Sea-Doo RXP-X and in third place was Johann Bukes on his #72 Sea-Doo RXT-X.
The Novice Runabout Stock class has put some promising riders in the spotlight including Darius Bukes who is the younger brother of 2013 Woman’s Runabout World Champion, Shante Bukes. After 3 challenging moto’s the Podium was rounded out by Yamaha rider Welcome Radebe in 3rd, Darius Bukes took 2nd place and Dylan Moolman in 1st position.
This is the first year that SAJSBA has re-introduced the PRO-AM Sport lites and PRO-AM Sport Open classes and they were extremely successful with 9 riders on the line. Tyron Sterne managed to take 1st position in the PRO-AM Sport lites class, with Wade Peterson in 2nd and Nick Behr in 3rd. Sean Valsecchi took 1st overall in the PRO-AM Sport Open class, and Peter Britz took 2nd.
The Pro Runabout Stock and Open classes were the most eventful of the day, with Yamaha sponsored riders Jared Moore and Shante Bukes racing their 2015 Yamaha FZR’s for the first time. In Moto 1 Jared Moore got the holeshot on his #8 Yamaha FZR, close on his heels was Shante Bukes on her #72 Yamaha FZR. Moore managed to maintain a decent lead on Bukes and took the win in moto 1, Bukes in 2nd and Kobus Malan took 3rd on his #5 Sea-Doo RXP-X. Moto 2 had the same result as Moto 1 with Moore getting the holeshot and taking the checkered flag. Shante Bukes was involved in a collision in moto 2 with Kobus Malan, but she managed to finish the moto albeit with an injured knee and ankle. She was unable to compete in moto 3 of the Pro Runabout Stock and open classes. In moto 3 Jared Moore got the holeshot once again and led from start to finish, Kobus Malan took 2nd and Peter Britz rounded up the top 3 in moto 3. Jared Moore took the overall win for the day in the Pro Runabout Stock class, Kobus Malan took 2nd and Peter Britz took 3rd position.
The Pro Runabout Open moto 1 saw Elardus Larney take the holeshot on his #7 Sea-Doo RXP-X, with Shante Bukes in a close 2nd on her #72 Yamaha FZR, and Cecil Larney in 3rd on his #13 Sea-Doo RXP-X. Moto 2 Elardus Larney took the holeshot and win again, with Cecil Larney in 2nd and Jared Moore in 3rd. Jared Moore managed to get an impressive start in Moto 3 and lead the race from start to finish, Elardus Larney came in a close 2nd and Cecil Larney rounded out the top three in 3rd position. Final results in the Pro Runabout Open class were Cecil Larney in 3rd, Jared Moore in 2nd, and Elardus Larney in 1st.
The Pro Ski lites class was introduced to the SAJSBA Nationals 3 years ago. Basically it is a stock class with some watercraft modifications allowed. The watercraft can have aftermarket parts to improve the handling; these include rideplate, scoopgrate, sponsons, aftermarket pole and handlebars. Certain engine compartment modifications which are permitted are an aftermarket head, aftermarket exhaust and aftermarket flame arrestors. This class has proven to be popular with 9 riders on the line at the first National of 2015.
Moto 1 of the Pro Ski Lites class got off to an interesting start with former runabout World Champion Nick Thompson taking the holeshot on his #0 Kawasaki SXR. Thompson lead the race until the second last lap when Sean Valsecchi managed to get past and take the checkered flag in 1st position on his Kawasaki SXR, Tyron Motzouris in 2nd on his #2 Yamaha Superjet, and John De Ponte in 3rd on his #201 Yamaha Superjet.
Moto 2 of the Pro Ski Lites class went a little differently with Tyron Motzouris taking the holeshot and leading the race all the way to the checkered flag. Nick Thompson was involved in a collision with fellow rider Sean Valsecchi but he managed to hang on to finish moto 2 in 4th place but could not go on to race in moto 3. Devin Beatie took 2nd position and John De Ponte in a close 3rd.
Once again Tyron Motzouris took the holeshot in Moto 3 and went on to win; Devin Beatie took 2nd again and John De Ponte took 3rd. Tyron Motzouris took 1st overall in the Pro Ski lites class, Devin Beatie took 2nd and John De Ponte took 3rd.
The Pro Ski Open was also full of exciting competition. In moto 1, Sean Valsecchi took the lead from Nick Thompson on the second last lap to take the win, John De Ponte took 2nd from Nick Thompson on the last lap, and Nick took the checkered flag in 3rd Position. John De Ponte managed to win both moto 2 and 3 to claim first overall in the Pro Ski Open class, Sean Valsecchi got 2nd overall and Nick Thompson got 3rd.
A fairly recent addition to the SAJSBA Nationals is the Booster Cup. The Booster Cup is a series in South Africa which has been running for 3 years. A very generous sponsor, LPS, purchased 6 brand new Kawasaki STX 15F’s to be offered as a hire and ride concept. This series is for riders who are interested in racing but would like to try their hand at it before committing to purchasing a watercraft of their own. It has been very successful with SAJSBA offering 5 classes for the Booster Cup which include Juniors, Novice, Veterans, Ladies and the ever popular Pro class. The Pro class allows experienced riders to level the playing field by racing watercraft which have identical top speeds and handling capabilities. Thus the best riders shine in this class. The Booster Cup is offered at all inland SAJSBA Nationals, and prizes are given at the end of each season.
The next SAJSBA National will be held on 28th February 2015 in Vrede, Freestate. This event will be a combined effort between SAJSBA and the Jet Fighters series. The Jet Fighters series is also an extra series on offer by SAJSBA and is run and organized by one of our most experience riders, Sean Valsecchi. The concept of the Jet Fighters series is short quick moto’s of all ski and sport classes, no runabouts.
The SAJSBA National Round 1 was a fantastically well-organized event filled with thrilling racing, entertaining company and foresight of a promising season.
All images: Channe Moore