SA Quad: Ermelo Toyota 400 preview

VARIOUS OFF-ROAD QUAD TITLES STILL UP FOR GRABS The Ermelo Toyota 400, the final round of the 2008 national quad off-road championship, will be the determining event for most of the class titles while the competition for the overall...

VARIOUS OFF-ROAD QUAD TITLES STILL UP FOR GRABS

The Ermelo Toyota 400, the final round of the 2008 national quad off-road championship, will be the determining event for most of the class titles while the competition for the overall laurels in Mpumalanga will be stiff.

The HST USA Yamaha YFZ450 rider, Brian Baragwanath, will, however have no pressure as he has already claimed the overall victory for the season as well as the Pro 450 Class titel. Quite a few racers will, however, aim for the overall laurels while most of them are also still fighting for a place on a podium or to finish the season between the frontrunners.

The multiple champion, Brendan Badenhorst (DCM AGA LG Red Bull KTM), who has won the Mafikeng Mini Desert and has worked himself into the eighth place on the overall listing after only three races, will be one of the main rivals although it will be his first attempt at the Ermelo Toyota 400.

Enrico da Silva (HST USA Suzuki) and Leander Pienaar (Team ABSA Can-Am DS450) were also victorious this year. Da Silva, together with scholars like Chris Meyer (Salley's Yamaha), who is second overall as well as in the Pro 450 Class; Juan Coetzee (Honda Race Nation Quad Revolution) and Andre du Plessis (Polaris Outlaw), who are all in the overall top ten, will again be a threat to the rest.

Years of racing experience will however count in the favour of those who have also showed that they can still finish between the frontrunners. Team ABSA Can-Am's Hendrik Potgieter, who has won this event last year on the big DS650, and his team-mate, Carl Wichmann, have experienced some teething problems with the new Can-Am DS450, but they showed determination and will start the Mpumalanga race in fourth and third places respectively on the overall standings as well as in the Pro 450 Class.

Local knowledge will count in the favour of the Loubser brothers, Vincent and Glen (Team Yamaha) who both had their share of bad luck this season. Vincent's bad luck pushed him outside the overall top ten while Glen is holding on to his seventh place overall, but the Ermelo brothers have been competitive during the season and can make their home crowd proud with good results.

The Breedt brothers, Pieter (DS650) and Jacques (Honda TRX450), are in the same boat although Pieter is leading the Open Class and shares the seventh place overall with Glen while Jacques, who has been on the podium twice this season, is still outside the top ten. Meyer's ouboet, TJ (Kawasaki KFX450R) has been consistent and deserved his ninth place overall.

Jacques "Boesman" Struwig (Polaris Outlaw), who finished third at the 2007 Ermelo Toyota 400, could only score three times this season and rounds off the top ten.

Only a handful of points separate those just outside the overall top ten from finishing the season inside it - and it is riders who will even aim for an overall podium at this event.

Da Silva, Pienaar and Jacques Breedt are on Struwig's heels, but they will have to be on the lookout for the likes of young Lourens "Vlam" de Beer (PMB Suzuki/Kia Vrygheid Suzuki) and the experienced Danie Coetzer who has achieved good results with the new KTM 525XC.

Other riders who can upset the applecart are Dale Stock (Sadiba Out of Africa Campbell Kawasaki) and Sarel van Biljon (Can-Am DS450).

In the Open Class championship, only 25 points separate the first five riders - Breedt leads Clinton Petersen (HST USA Yamaha) by nine points who is leading Du Plessis by a mere 2.5 points while 9.5 points separate the Polaris racer from Coetzer. Struwig is 1.5 points behind Coetzer with Van Biljon only 2.5 points behind Boesman.

In the Pro 450 Class, Meyer is within Wichmann's reach while he (Wichmann) would like to stay ahead of Potgieter if he would like to hold onto his current podium position. And the rest - Coetzee (5th), TJ Meyer (6th) and Glen Loubser (7th) - are not safe as those behind them are as capable of finishing ahead of them.

Colin Joubert (Suzuki LTR450) is leading the Senior Class although former champion, Christo van der Merwe (Team ABSA Can-Am) has won the last five consecutive events.

Milton Thesen (Yamaha Support Team) has won the Master Class with Karen Wentworth (Auto Motorcycles Suzuki) and Kobus Visser (Team ABSA Can-Am Renegade) fighting for second place while Andre de Villiers (Can-Am Renegade) and Terence Darlow (Southern ATV Can-Am) also stand an outside chance of finishing on the podium.

The top three Silver Challenge competitors - Chris van der Westhuizen (HK Racing Honda); Brendon van Staden (Storm Racing Polaris) and Theo Barwise (Suzuki) will use this last event to determine the winner for the year.

The Ermelo Toyota 400 will start on Friday, 31 October, at De Rust guest farm at Sheepmoor outside Ermelo with a time-trial for national competitors in the Pro Open and Pro 450 Class as well as Senior Class racers. The time- trail will determine the starting order for the main race on Saturday (1 November) and the leading quad will tackle the 400 kilometre race at 09h00.

-credit: ms2000.co.za

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Series Offroad
Drivers Sarel van Biljon