Over the past weekend the small mountain town of Sabie in Mpumalanga hosted the South African National Downhill Champs. With plenty of elevation to play with, a lengthy (by South African standards) downhill track was carved freshly into the forest by race organiser Justin Victor and our country’s fastest and loosest got down to business!
It was Johan Potgeiter and Frankie Du Toit who walked away victorious from the slippery sloppy woods! We got a few words from them post-race and the top results below for you to check out.
Johann Potgeiter – 2023 Elite Men’s Downhill National Champion
WA: 9 X SA Champs wins now Pottie, 7 in Downhill and 2 in Enduro, that must feel insane? How do you do it year after year?
Johan: I’m not really sure how I manage to do it year after year, haha! It wasn’t like I set out to do it that way, I just approached it like any SA Champs I guess, it’s that once-off race, I’m not sure if my experience helps me, but maybe it does? Yesterday we had some crazy conditions and you’ve just gotta make it happen in that one shot you’ve got even if it’s that difficult, so maybe the experience does help there. I think it just so worked out that it happened that way.
I always try my best and I always make sure I’m fit and ready for the race, sometimes more than others, and there’s possibly a bit of luck here and there which you need but ja, I guess it’s the whole ‘never give up’ thing also. Just gotta keep on fighting and pushing every year!
WA: What are your thoughts on the Sabie DH track? It looked like a good test!
Johan: The track was pretty cool! It was pretty physical, there were a lot of flat sections for pedalling but it was very strategic because even in the flat sections you had to negotiate corners, try and stay on lines, try to miss a root etc.
Obviously when we raced it was raining, the track was super wet and muddy and very very slippery so you had to be in control of what you were doing and not try to push too hard in certain sections but make sure you carried good speed. It was very tricky! I would say a very good showdown for SA Champs, it was a good track and a lot of fun to ride if I’m honest! Everyone who was there enjoyed it so I would say a super good track there in Sabie!
Frankie Du Toit – 2023 Elite Women’s Downhill National Champion
WA: Frankie well done on taking back the SA Downhill Champs title! What does the SA Champs title mean to you?
Frankie: The SA title is always an honour to win – it’s a special feeling to be able to represent your country for the coming year! After losing it last year it felt very good to win it back! The ladies field is slowly starting to become more and more competitive with a couple of fast and talented youngsters coming up through the youth and junior ranks – it’s really exciting to see!
WA: What are your thoughts on the Sabie DH track? It looked like a good test of skill and endurance!
Frankie: The track exceeded my expectations! It’s a nice change to get to race on a slightly longer track in SA – there was quite a lot of pedalling / ‘traversy’ sections but it was balanced with some nice techy sections – of course the weather made it 10x more challenging and interesting!
WA: How did you approach your race run with such wet and slippery conditions?
Frankie: I wasn’t too worried about the rain – there’s not much anyone can do about it, so I tried not to let it stress me out. I knew I just had to keep my run as smooth and steady as possible and not push too hard in the wet. Of course, saying that and doing it are two different things when a national title is on the line! I made a small mistake halfway through the track that caused me to fall and ride the rest of the track with a skew saddle and bars but managed to get to the bottom in one piece!