This weekend South African riders will welcome the highly anticipated return of racing. The National Enduro Championship resumes with great excitement as riders face the challenge of a new Eastern Cape venue. Since the location announcement, the Winterberg terrain in Bathhurst has certainly enticed the country’s top racing talent who are frothing at the thought of taking on new territory.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Brett Swanepoel will lead the charge in the prestigious E2 Class. Having overcome the disappointment of a DNF at the start of the season that was beyond his control, Swanepoel bounced back with an impressive victory at the second round.

As he prepares for what until now has been widely unknown territory, the rider explained: “I can’t explain how excited I am to be racing again! It feels like we’ve come off December break and starting the season fresh again. My body has had time to recover and it’s ready to take on a new challenge. From what I’ve seen, we’re in for some exciting terrain this weekend. I’m expecting wet riverbeds, so I’ve been riding in that kind of terrain as much as possible as I prepare for this weekend.”

With his successful track record in endurance racing, it is no secret that Swanepoel thrives off a challenge. The unknown element that this weekend presents has certainly motivated the rider, who describes spending more time in the saddle than usual over the past few weeks:

“My bike setup in something I constantly work on and refine to make sure I’m fully prepared for whatever the terrain throws at me. My TE 300i feels ready, my body feels ready – so I’m looking forward to giving it a good go! The goal is always the top step of the podium, but also to come out of the race injury free. I’ve been spending more time in general on the bike over the last few weeks with a good mix of speed and technical work – so I’m feeling strong and fit!” said Swanepoel.

With his sights set on snatching up the E1 Championship this season, teammate Heinrich Aust will certainly leave no stone in Bathhurst unturned. In an attempt to bridge the 6-point gap that rival Bradley Cox has opened up, Aust will be looking to capitalise every championship point that he can get.

Undaunted by the challenge of new terrain, he commented: “We’re used to Eastern Cape terrain being dry, rocky and fast – so that’s what I’ve been prepping for. My setup will involve a slightly harder mousse, medium compound tyre and a stiffer suspension. That kind of terrain is very unique – it puts the KZN and Gauteng riders out of their comfort zone, so anything can happen. If your bike set up isn’t on point, then that kind of terrain is normally quite difficult!”

With the pressure of the E1 Championship coming right down to the wire, Aust is taking a very specific approach to racing this weekend: “I believe that to finish first, you must first finish. I’d like to just do my best and show all the hard work I’ve been putting in. I’ve been working on my fitness levels to build up more endurance, and on the bike I’ve been working on my technical skills. Thanks to Husqvarna for giving me all the tools needed for success, now let’s get to Bathurst and go racing!”

Published by: Grant Frerichs

Picture Caption: Brett Swanepoel prepares to make a comeback.
Photography by: Sage Lee Voges

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