This weekend marked the penultimate round of the South African Cross Country series (SACCS) in Harrismith KZN. A super fast and dusty event greeted the competitor who braved the early morning cold to line up for a chilly 7am time trial.

Reigning champion Ross Branch had a mathematic chance of wrapping up the 2017 series at Harrismith but a certain element of luck would have to play its part to make it happen. A top five overall would be enough to get the job done for the Brother Leader Tread KTM rider. After time trial and having been the first man off in the morning, Branch plummeted down the start order as just too many small mistakes cost him dearly on a short sixteen kilometre loop. He lined up in the main race thirteenth overall, his lowest ever qualifying result.

Branch and the team breathed a huge sigh of relief though at the end of the first lap of three when the KTM champion appeared in second place having made eighteen passes on the opening lap to slice his way through almost the entire bike and quad field. There he remained until the finish where he had done enough with the second place to once again be crowned South African Overall and OR1 Cross Country champion for the second year running.

After the race, he commented, ‘This is what I needed. I knew I could make the passes and made each one as clean and as quickly as I could. Once I got to second place I settled into my rhythm and was happy enough not to push too much after that point. A second championship means the world to me and I can now focus my efforts on my Offroad and Rally goals going forward into 2018.’

Louw Schmidt was back at full speed once again after his second collarbone repair of the season. With the OR1 championship out of reach, the goal for Harrismith was to run a high result and work on the fitness and speed. Inside of the top ten overall day and even with a late last lap incident where some fencing wire caught in the wheel and whipped the back of the KTM pro, he toughed it out and brought it home even though the tall Limpopo rider was in considerable pain.

Third in the OR1 open class would have cheered him up. He had this to say, “The course here at Harrismith was right up my alley. Very high speed and I couldn’t have been happier with my big KTM 450 XC-F. I was really having fun and the wire didn’t feel too bad when it first hit my back, more cold than anything. Just a few cuts and they’ll heal quickly. At least my shoulder was feeling good and didn’t give me any problems at all. I’m out of the Championship so the goal now is high finishes and race wins to end off a bit of a messy season”.

Louwrens Mahoney continues to impress in his return to racing after his short sabbatical in 2016. The former multiple champion seemed really at home on the ‘old-school’ style of track. After starting the season off the podium and event by event getting faster and faster, it was only a matter of time before he got back to his winning ways:

I’ve been working on my fitness and speed all year long and to be honest it’s taken longer than I thought to get up to speed. This does feel more like an old school track and I prefer the faster more open style of event anyway. This track had some good flow so it suited my riding as well as the power delivery on the 250 2-stroke. I’m happy with my speed and fitness again and my Brother Leader Tread KTM team has been very kind and patient with me to give me the time to get to where I need to be. Podiums each time I go out for the last couple of Nationals has also given a lot more confidence. I’m happy where we are. To finally take a win means the program is working.” Mahoney’s win will tighten things up in the championship points for the OR2 category heading to the final.  

Multiple Senior National champion also looked at home in the Harrismith cold, dust and high speeds. Choosing to stay with the 350 XC-F machine again had Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen in a strong position after qualifying where he was able to put a few riders between himself and his closest rival in the championship. No problems on the event once again where Van Rooyen calmly went about the business of winning. Not quite able to claim the title yet, that will come down to the final event but an in form Bollie Van Rooyen is comfortably in the lead heading to the final round.

The Cross Country team has a long gap to prepare their final event of the year at the Atlas Copco Gold event in Glenharvie in the Westonaria area, Gauteng, to be held on the last racing weekend of October. Most of the team will compete in the remaining GXCC events to keep the speed and training up.




Results are provisional at the time of publishing.

Brother Leader Tread KTM pits.
Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

Ross Branch slides into second place with style after the 1st lap at the SACCS Harrismith 400.
Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

Louw Schmidt comfortable in his 3rd place OR1 finish at the SACCS Harrismith 400.
Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

Louwrens Mahoney showing he’s true form at the SACCS Harrismith 400.
Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

Level headed Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen at the SACCS Harrismith 400.
Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

All smiles from Ross Branch as he takes the second place podium at the SACCS Harrismith 400.
Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting