With the proverbial blanket covering the top 10 riders, the lead was chopping and changing throughout the morning with navigation becoming a critical factor in the days outcome.
(Above) Altus De Wet suffered issues on Day 2 and dropped out of the top-10. (Below) Rains showed up on Day 2, adding to the difficulty of an already challenging race.
Shortly before the the 1st DSP, a wrong turn by Jarvis and Birch, had the Gudzeit brothers Jade and Blake leading the field but by the time they reached the DSP it was South African James Hodson who arrived first, followed closely by Graham Jarvis and Scott Bouverie. Kenny Gilbert and Ben Hemingway were locked in battle for a top 5 position while Blake Gudzeit had to leave his brother Jade, who was suffering from a clutch problem, at the foot of the last climb before the service point.
Chris Birch was sitting in 7th spot leaving the DSP, but made short work of the riders in front of him, himself and Jarvis pushed to the front of the field. Still battling with navigational issues the two missed the 2nd DSP, but charged ahead for a dramatic finish at the top of Bushman’s Pass. Birch caught Jarvis at the top of the Mountain and bombed past the Englishman for one of the most exciting finishes in the races history.
Reigning champion Wade Young was forced to retire after seizing his motor, while last years runner up, Altus De Wet has also suffered issues and dropped out of the top 10.
It seems like tonight will be a busy one for the Clerk Course as there are a host of appeals to consider this evening.
1: Chris Birch (KTM) – 6h11m47
2: Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) – 6h12m33
3: Ben Hemingway (Beta) – 6h15m12
4: Blake Gudzeit (Sherco/Monster Energy) – 6h20m02
5: James Hodson (Yamaha) – 6h22m49
6: Dan Hemigway (Beta)
7: Shannon Frost (KTM)
8: Kenny Gilbert (Yamaha)
9: Scott Bouverie (KTM)
10: Bronson Louw (Yamaha)