By Bernd Kroemer
Who will ever defeat him on Namibian soil? I am talking about the young Moto Cross rider from Botswana: Ross Branch. Ross feels right at home in Namibia and he once again showed that during the 3rd Wesbank- Championships race over the long Easter-weekend in Swakopmund. He loves fast racing, flying over table tops, turning his Kawasaki sideways in a "Whip" and then landing securely and continuing the wild chase across the race track at the salt fields. On two occasions he had to fight from way back to the head of the pack but it didn't hinder him from collecting three heat victories and the maximum number of points at the end of the day.
Let's start with the protagonists in the Kings' Class, the Open/125ccm Class. No Namibian rider was able to get past Ross Branch here, but Frank Klosta made a clear 2nd place. When the 2007 season started, the acting 125ccm champion Klosta wasn't able to pick up where he had left off the previous year and he complained about his frustrating results to his dad, saying his bike has lost engine speed. His likewise frustrated dad proclaimed: Turn up the throttle boy! Prior to the race in Swakopmund a technician was consulted and truly, he found a hairline crack in the vicinity of the exhaust pipe of his Yamaha, which was responsible for the loss in performance during racing conditions. The problem is solved and Klosta could once again show us what he's made of.
Ronnie Adams started with an impressive 2nd place on his four-stroke Suzuki in the first heat, then came a 3rd place in the second heat and 5th rank in the "Wesbank King of the Dirt", which clearly showed that Ronnie is far away from his best. It's a pity!
On the other hand we had a real climber, namely Arno Engels. Arno started with a weak 5th place in the first heat, followed by 4th place in the second heat and a convincing 3rd place during the "Wesbank King of the Dirt", giving him a podium spot. He had to wait a long time for this feeling!
Alexander Howard was expected to perform somewhat better. After his 2nd overall ranking during the first MX-race this season hopes were probably too high; he is still very young and he is surely going to surprise us with good results in the coming months. Another rider worth mentioning is little Mark Sternagel, who wasn't only able to win the 85ccm Class on his strong KTM, but who also participated for the first time in the 125ccm Class in the "Wesbank King of the Dirt". He landed a sensational 9th place, which put him on an overall 10th rank. Unbelievable! Eckhard Hall from Swakopmund also had a very good overall 7th position.
Overall results Open/125 Klasse
1. Ross Branch, Botswanna, Wreckers Campbell-Kawasaki 60
2. Frank Klosta , Windhoek, Refrigeration Services-Yamaha 49
3. Ronnie Adams, Kapps-Farm, JÃ¤germeister-Suzuki, 43
4. Arno Engels, Windhoek, Investment cars-Honda 39
5. Alexander Howard, Windhoek, Seasonaire-Yamaha 37
6. Sascha Becker, Windhoek, Uweâ??s Autoelectric-Honda 30
7. Eckhard Hall, Swakopmund, Coastal Racing-Honda 27
8. Jose Texeira, Angola, E.L.Sea Products-Suzuki 23
9. Tony Viljoen, Windhoek, Jokerâ??s Pizzeria-Honda 21
10. Mark Sternagel, Windhoek, Sternbau-KTM 17
50cc, 65cc and 80cc classes
In the 50cc Kindergarden-Class riders compete for fame and honour as well. Michael Barlow was the overall winner. William Smith showed a strong performance in the second and third heats with 2nd places each time, but he had an engine failure in the first heat. He made an overall 4th spot behind Yoshua Becker and Esranel Becker on 3rd.
Eric Garbers was the winner in the 65cc Class. However, he had a "tough landing" on that day and had to make do with a 2nd place in the second heat, behind Tristan Muller from Okahandja. Pauli Loots started with a strong first heat and 2nd place behind Garbers. In the third heat Pauli led until the last lap, when apparently his nerves gave up: Overall third place. This class showed some exciting races but the organiser should nevertheless think about a joint 65cc and 85cc class. The number of riders at the gate would be bigger and the little 65cc riders would quickly get used to the speed of the 85cc bikes. It would only bring advantages!
In the 85ccm Clas nothing gets past Mark Sternagel; he made that perfectly clear in the first heat. Jaco Loots was up and away and Mark seemingly crept behind, Jaco's headstart getting rather bigger! Then, when everyone thought the dice were cast, Mark seemed to awaken and he gave all he got! One lap before the finish he mercilessly seized his first place, beating his friend once again by passing him behind in the eastern bend. It's nice to see that Jaco is such a good sport! After that, Mark was at his usual best and ended the day with a maximum number of points. Local hero Schalk Louw from Swakopmund landed on 3rd place despite having a hard time fighting off Swakopmund's Niki Rossi. Niki has improved enormously!
The fact that the new system of "Speedcross" was never fully understood by the spectators and too few participants were interested in this category, led to the system's quick "burial" These riders now participate in the old Clubmen's Class. It's great to see the Namibian multi champion Rainer Becker here again. The field read as the "Who is who" of the Namibian MX-sport in the 1990's. Names like Doolie Engels, Gino Rossi (Swakopmund), Heino Windisch (Walvis-Bay) or Ian Kotze, just to name a few. The sport they offered was excellent and after the addition of all points, Rainer Becker won ahead of Heino Windisch and Ian Kotze. In the paddock the guys talked about re-introducing the Masters-Class, which means we can admire the before-mentioned riders in the "Wesbank King of the Dirt" race in future. They will ride against all the youngsters and I predict that the so-called Oldies won't just ride in the back. Rainer Becker for example rides as if he never took a break from the sport.
The Quad- or 4-Wheelers Classes are amongst the most popular among the spectators. In the Quads-B-Class Eugene Slippers won ahead of Ecki Spoerer and AndrÃ© Maree. The Quads-Ladies-Class started together with the B-Class and here Liezl Davies won. Maike Bochert made 2nd place ahead of Celene Adams and sister Suleika Bochert. Michael Behnke won the Quads-Clubmen's Class ahead of Wolfgang Rohl and Nokkie Maree. The riders in the Mini-Quads Class are getting stronger as well; here the victory went to Joane Steenkamp, who left Jaques Maree and Sune Garbers on 2nd and 3rd respectively.
As is already known, the engines roar the loudest in the Quad-A-Class over 240ccm. Unfortunately the race was overshadowed when Dirk Baard from Walvisbay had a bad crash. He was in third position when the Quad landed in a too steep angle, overturned and hit Dirk hard. He was brought to hospital immediately; luckily no bones were fractured. Ronnie Adams battled with Jan de Haan, leaving Ronnie in the lead in Heat one, while in the second heat Ronnie had to make way for de Haan. Revenge came in the Quads King of the Dirt when Ronnie collected his usualâ?Victory for Adamsâ?, with de Haan in 2nd and Phil Baard in 3rd. These were really exciting races!
At this point a Thank You goes to the men of the Coastal Racing Club, to Rudi Brand for a wonderfully designed track, to Messrs Coastal Cement Works for providing their earth-moving machines and last but not least a big Thank You to the sponsor Wesbank.