Kawasaki certainly came, saw and conquered in South African National and GXCC Gauteng Cross Country racing in 2021. Now the green machines will be back with a star-studded 20-bike twin Pepson Plastics Motul and Franchise Company Tork Craft team attack on the 2022 championship.
Kawasaki made a quiet return following a few decades out of cross country racing at the beginning of 2021 with the brand’s all-new KX X cross country machines. D’Artagnan Lobjoit however soon made his mark on the OR1 grid aboard his Pepson Plastics Kawasaki Motul KX 450 X, while Taki Bogiages and Kyle Mackenzie were immediately competitive on their KX 250 Xs in OR3. Then Franchise Co. CIT took delivery of a KX 450 X, signed Michael Pentecost to ride it and the rest is history.
Pentecost immediately dominated, taking three of the final four open class OR1 wins to steal the ’21 title with Lobjoit third. The pair doubled up with first and second in the Gauteng GXCC chase as Pentecost took the overall title too. Bogiages bounced back from a bout of Covid to take second in the Gauteng title chase with Mackenzie, who took third in the nationals, fifth in GXCC.
“We came, we saw and we conquered with Kawasaki’s brand new KX X range in 2021,” Pepson Plastics Kawasaki Motul team principal Iain Pepper confirmed. “It was a bold move and we need to thank all involved, but now it’s time to look forward, onward and upward. “We are delighted to confirm a splendid 20-bike twin-team effort for 2022. “Harry Grobler will be running nine bikes under the Franchise Company Tork Craft banner and I will have eleven machines out in Pepson Plastics Motul colours.”
“We will be racing hand in hand as two teams in both the National Cross Country and Gauteng Regional GXCC Regional championships with Kawasaki’s backing next year,” Franchise Company Tork Craft Kawasaki Racing boss Harry Grobler elaborated. “Kawasaki will be fielding riders in the 450cc OR1 and 250cc OR3 classes, as well as in the Ladies, Masters, Seniors, 85cc Juniors and 65cc Juniors.”
“Our aim is to work together with the help of Kawasaki to defend our titles won this year, and to win every class we enter,” Iain Pepper added. “2021 was our learning year, which turned out way better than expected. “We won both the OR1 national and regional titles with Franchise Company star rider Mike Pentecost. “He was backed up on the podiums by Pepson Plastics Motul man, Dart Lobjoit. “They will be back and supported by Tyron Beverly and Craig Alcock in 2022.
“Our Pepson Plastics Motul OR3 riders also had a good learning year. “Taki and Kyle starred in both the nationals and regionals and while wins eluded us, we have plans to stand on top of that podium next year. “To that end, Franchise Company Tork Craft Racing has drafted regional High School champion John Botha to ride an OR3 machine alongside Wian Wenzel, to take it to SA champion Davin Cocker. “Those shoes are going to be big to keep full, but we are all up to the challenge!”
“The big news is however in the Senior class, where we have two big names joining the Kawasaki ranks,” Harry Grobler confirmed. “Multiple South African Cross Country champion King Kenny Gilbert and cross country debutant, but multiple SA motocross champion, Wyatt Avis will be back on a pair of Pepson Plastics Kawasaki Motul machines. “Kenny will ride a 450 and Wyatt a 250 and these two should without doubt be front runners for overall National wins.”
Kenny will be supported by Lee Thompson in Regional Seniors, while National and Regional Masters class Franchise Company Tork Craft regular Carel ‘Mielies’ Le Roux and his will take the fight to the likes of Wayne Farmer. Kawasaki also has exciting Ladies Regional Pro Am news, where four-time National Ladies MX champion Kayla Raaf will be out on a Pepson Plastics and reigning Pro Ladies champion Che Dee Grobler will race in Franchise Company colours, backed by Danel Delport in Pro Am.
Kawasaki will also chase 85cc Senior and Junior class victories with Jaden Els and Johandre Vermaak riding for the Franchise Company. “They will be supported by Pepson Plastics Motul novice rider Clayton Human. Pepson Plastics lad, Jake Pretorius and Dylan Human will chase the baby 65cc title, and on the other side of the scale, expect team boss Iain Pepper to make some Veteran Regional class appearances too
“We have no shortage of talent in both our Franchise Company Tork Craft, or Pepson Plastics Motul teams,” Iain Pepper concluded. “That, coupled with Kawasaki’s incredibly powerful and robust KX 450 X and KX 250 X machines leaves us with no reason to doubt that any of our 2022 cross country racing aims cannot be achieved.”
Photo credit: GXCC