The National Cross Championship has ended in victory for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. Rising talent Davin Cocker, who was recruited by the team at the start of the year, stormed to the OR3 Championship title on Saturday. Also finishing the season with a stellar performance was leading rider Brett Swanepoel, who placed second overall in the prestigious OR1 Class.
The season finale took riders to Virginia Trails, a venue in KwaZulu-Natal with classic cross country terrain. After a solid time trial performance, Cocker lined up near the front of the pack for the main race. He set off with a blistering pace to take the class lead early into the race and held his composure until he crossed the finish line.
Having snatched up the first national title of his promising career, an elated Cocker commented: “This is the first national title I’ve ever won. It really has been the best season I’ve had in my career so far, but it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing. After some bad luck that cost me a lot of points, I had to fight hard to get back to the top. Having worked so hard for this title, it’s made the win even more rewarding.”
After an unforgettable debut season with the Husqvarna team, he added: “Racing for Husky this year has been a dream come true and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone putting so much effort into supporting me. It will be very interesting to see what next season has in store and I can’t wait to get stuck into it!”
While a podium finish is something Swanepoel is proud of, it’s no secret that second place wasn’t what he had been hoping for. After a slower time trail than expected, the rider had his work cut out for him as he chased down rival Michael Pentecost in the main race.
“I found it difficult to take risks in the long grass in the first lap and lost about a minute. By the second lap I found a good rhythm and started to make up some time. I put in so much effort but unfortunately had a crash in the last lap and couldn’t narrow the gap. It’s a really tough pill to swallow because I never imagined myself walking away from this event without the championship.”
After the first two rounds of the season, Swanepoel had established a healthy 14-point lead. A bout of bad luck set Swanepoel back, however, and left him fighting to catch up for the rest of the season. As he shakes off the disappointment, he will jump onto his TE 300i and focus on extreme Enduro riding for the rest of the season.
“I have so much to look forward to this year still. There’s the National Extreme season finale coming up, where I have a good chance of winning the championship. Soon after that is the Roof of Africa. – I’m excited to see what I can do there and look forward to ending this year on a high note,” said Swanepoel.
Husqvarna South Africa’s Brand Manager Fred Fensham gives a parting shot as the season draws to a close: “What a roller coaster ride this Cross Country season has been. As always, some hard lessons were learned that will certainly be taken into account going forward. My thanks goes to our riders and crew, who together fought back and gave me 100% at all times. Brett carried the number one plate with pride and was a star throughout the season, just missing out on the OR1 title. We do, however, know he will fight even harder in 2022.
“As for our young gun Davin – we were all excited about this young athlete at the team announcement back in January and look at him now – the OR3 Champion and winner of his first South African title! I feel it’s the start of an amazing career and there is so much more to come. We certainly look forward to 2022, so watch this space!”