A small but quality field assembled at Mankele MTB Park on the outskirts of Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on Sunday 22nd July to contest the SA National MTB Downhill Championship.

The absence of defending champion Andrew Neethling, who races for the international Giant Factory Off-Road Team, left the championship run wide open, and race day favourites Stefan Garlicki and Hayden Brown were keen to derail overall National MTB Series winners Tiaan Odendaal’s hope for the championship title as well.

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Tiaan Odendaal (Turner Loaded SA) dominated his downhill run to become the SA National downhill champion at the 2012 SA MTB DHI National Championships at Mankele MTB Park near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on Sunday 22 July 2012. Photo Credit: Johan Orton

The technical nature of the course at Mankele is a huge attraction amongst the downhill community, and the 1.8km track did not disappoint with rock gardens, berms, jumps and some really tight switchbacks. But the track became trickier as the racing progressed during the day, turning up the soil on the tight corners, making it loose and harder to achieve high speeds through these sections as well as testing the riders’ skills.

Odendaal (Turner Loaded SA), racing in the junior category, outshone his elite rivals with a decisive seeding run of 2 minutes 27 seconds, putting in 8.85 seconds and 9.42 seconds between himself and Brown and Garlicki respectively.

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Jaco Veldsman cornering at the 2012 SA MTB DHI National Championships at Mankele MTB Park near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on Sunday 22 July 2012. Photo Credit: Johan Orton

The final run saw Odendaal put in a superb performance, completing his run in 2 minutes 28.52 seconds. Brown finished second overall in 2.29.80 and first in the elite category, with Garlicki rounding out the overall podium in 2.32.99 and the second elite rider home. Youth category riders Jonathan Philogene and Alan Hatherly finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Enjoying the track and calling it one of his favourites at the moment as it best suits his riding style, Odendaal said: “The race went very well, the organisers and staff at Mankele did an amazing job and the track was fantastic! My sponsors did a great job in supporting me at the race and I had a very smooth seeding run.

“The race run was a little different as the track was ridden out by the time it was my run and it was very loose and a lot rougher than during seeding.”

Summary of Results – Overall – SA National DHI Championships

  1. Tiaan Odendaal (Junior) 02.28.52
  2. Hayden Brown (Elite) 02.29.80
  3. Stefan Garlicki (Elite) 02.32.99
  4. Jonathan Philogene (Youth) 02.35.70
  5. Alan Hatherly (Youth) 02.38.21

Click here for Full Results