By Bardy the Action Scribe

Burry Stander and Yolande Speedy lived up to their pre-race favourite status when they blazed their way to comfortable victories in the men and women’s Pro-Elite races respectively at the second round of the 2008 Mazda MTN SA Mountain Bike Cup in Pretoria at the weekend.

Stander (Mr Price GT) was simply in a different class on the fast, technical circuit at the Fountains Nature Reserve. The South African and African champion clocked a fast 1hr45min47sec for the six-lap race; just less than five minutes clear of his nearest rival, Namiban Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin Trek).

And this despite having to start at the back of the field and stopping to repair a rear tyre puncture on Lap 2!

“I felt really strong and was very happy to have such a solid race after the disappointment of not finishing Round 1 at Stellenbosch,” said a delighted Stander. “Because of my DNF in Stellenbosch, I wasn’t seeded on the local ranking system so had to start at the back of the field. I spent the first lap working my way to the front, which was actually good practice for international races.”

Except for his second lap (18min22sec), which saw him slow because of his puncture, each of Stander’s laps was between 17min15sec and 17min39sec, which showed exceptional consistency. Interestingly, Bassingthwaighte was the only other rider in the field to dip under 18 minutes for more than one lap.

Johan van Zyl (Mr Price GT) rode a very solid race to claim third place overall, just nine seconds behind Bassingthwaighte. Jacques Rossouw and Renay Goustra were fourth and fifth respectively.

In the women’s event, Speedy (IMC Racing) took the lead from the start and steadily increased it throughout the four-lap event to claim her second successive win in the national series. Current South African champion, Amy Jane Mundy (Jeep) was runner-up just over two minutes later with Sara Muhl (Jeep) rounding out the Pro-Elite category podium places.

At the Mazda MTN SA Cup Downhill event held at Gillooly’s Farm in Johannesburg on Sunday, experience triumphed as sub-veteran Gary Barnard aced the short, but technical course to claim overall victory.

In the absence of an ill Andrew Neethling (Mongoose), the national champion and winner of Round 1 in Stellenbosch last month, the race for the title was a little more open. But the extremely rocky course wasn’t easily tamed and robbed many a rider of a smooth performance.

In the first run, junior Ryno Fourie recorded the quickest time with a 1min40.39sec time. Barnard’s 1:41.56, which included a dab and loss of momentum about two thirds of the way down, was next best.

But a more fluid second run from Barnard saw him shave a fraction of a second off Fourie’s mark to clinch the quickest descent of the day with a 1:40.02. Andrew Guess was the fastest Elite rider and third overall with a second run of 1:41.42.
The third round of the Mazda MTN SA Cup doubles as the 2008 South African Championships and takes place in Pietermaritzburg on 15 and 16 March.

Leading results
Pro-Elite Women
1 Yolande Speedy (IMC Racing) 01hr26min52sec
2 Amy-Jane Mundy (Jeep) 01:29:12
3 Sara Muhl (Jeep) 01:32:53
4 Heletje van Staden 01:33:20
5 Ronel van Wyk (Cycle Lab) 01:38:42

Pro-Elite Men
1 Burry Stander (Mr Price GT) 01hr45min07sec
2 Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin Trek) 01:50:42
3 Johan van Zyl (Mr Price GT) 01:50:51
4 Jacques Rossouw 01:51:59
5 Renay Goustra 01:52:33
6 Philippe Vullioud 01:53:24
7 Philip Buys 01:53:39
8 Francois Theron (USN) 01:54:02
9 Roan Exelby (Fullimput) 01:54:34
10 Craig Paul 01:55:01

Elite Men
1 Andrew Guess 01min41.42sec
2 Wesley Augustyn 01:42.78
3 Greg Saharin 01:43.47
4 Travis Browning 01:43.56
5 Frank Liebenberg 01:45:51

1 Gary Barnard 01min40.02sec (Sub-Veteran)
2 Ryno Fourie 01:40.39 (Junior)
3 Andrew Guess 01:41.42 (Elite)
4 Wesley Augustyn 01:42.78 (Elite)
5 Chris Nixon 01:42.81 (Veteran)
6 Greg Saharin 01:43.47 (Elite)
7 Travis Browning 01:43.56 (Elite)
8 Pierre van der Merwe 01:44:04 (Junior)
9 Kenneth Sinclair 01:45.09 (Youth)
10 Hayden Brown 01:45.32 (Junior)