KENNY LEAVES ‘EM COLD

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Kenny Gilbert delivered a stunning ride to lead the Koue Bokkeveld 400 from lights to flag and move into the South African Cross Country Motorcycle championship lead for Pepson Plastics Husqvarna Racing on Saturday. The Pretoria Dakar hero was backed up by compatriot Taki Bogiages, who continued his comeback charge with fourth in the OR2 class.

“What a day,” Kenny Gilbert beamed after storming to victory in a tough and torrid race across the deserted Bokkeveld highlands north of the Western Cape town of Ceres. “We knew long before we arrived here that to win this race, we needed to get out front out of the dust and stay there, so Saturday morning’s time trial was crucial. “But I won that by two seconds to start the main race first.

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“Ross Branch pressurised me for a while but I fought him off and repaid him the dusty favour he imposed on me last year and I managed to slowly open the lead. “The going was super tough as it always is in the Bokkeveld, but the team prepared me a beautiful Pepson Plastics Husqvarna this weekend and I managed to use it to great effect.”

The Koue Bokkeveld was the next step in Taki Bogiages’ recuperation following his broken back late last year, but the Pretoria rider was happy with his race to sixth in class. “We are getting there,” Taki grinned. “This was a tough one — I had a good time trial and set a target to ride home to a strong finish, which is what I did, so I am pretty happy with fourth in OR2 and the way the season has started. “Thanks to the Pepson Plastics Husqvarna team for a great bike as usual.”

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It was a day to forget for Masters rider Iain Pepper however, who took a tumble in thick dust in the time trial and retired with a hurt wrist. “It was a bit of bad luck I suppose,” Iain explained. “Visibility was almost zero and I hit a lurker in the dust and that was it. “Apologies to the team — my Husqvarna felt incredible as always today.”

“Pepson Plastics Husqvarna Racing enjoyed a brilliant day in the Bokkeveld,” Husqvarna Motorcycles South Africa brand manager Fred Fensham concluded. “Kenny delivered a star performance to win and move into the championship lead and Taki continues on an impressive recovery path. “Sorry for Iain, but he’s tough as nails and will be back — well done to the entire team!”