Team Southern Yamaha Tarka 400 summary

Jacques Struwig (Southern Yamaha) won Tarka 400 The combination has been right the whole season - Jacques "Boesman" Struwig and the Southern Yamaha Raptor 650. But some teething problems saw him not finishing two races (Kalahari 1000 and...

Jacques Struwig (Southern Yamaha) won Tarka 400

The combination has been right the whole season - Jacques "Boesman" Struwig and the Southern Yamaha Raptor 650.

But some teething problems saw him not finishing two races (Kalahari 1000 and Mafikeng 500) while he had to fight from the back during the Mini Roof of Africa (Lesotho) and the Hluhluwe Queen Pineapple Off-road Spectacular to score some points. At both these races he was the last of more than 50 riders on the route and both times he finished in the top 15.

Then it happened - at the Tarka 400 at Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape. The Southern Yamaha Raptor was, as always, perfectly prepared and tested when Struwig decided to be the first biker to tackle the time-trail of 35km on Friday morning (August 1). This mini-race determined the starting position for the main race on Saturday (August 2) which consisted of one lap of 170km which the riders had to complete twice before finishing at the Tarkastad Showgrounds.

Although he knew dust would be a major problem if it did not rain, he was happy with his race time (35 min 51 sec) which was 3 sec slower than the second rider (Hendrik Potgieter) and 9 sec slower than the fastest quad rider, Shaun Gunther. Even before the halfway mark on the first loop, he moved up to the second place when Gunther experienced a flat tyre. The second fuel stop was coming up and he was ready to leave this area before Potgieter, but his Southern Yamaha Raptor did not want to start. Every second counted and Potgieter was off again before the engine on black and red quad spluttered to life and he was on the chase again.

With about 50km to go before the halfway mark, he passed Potgieter and never saw him again (Potgieter fell back to 3rd place with Charles Jonker then taking the 2nd position). Although a little relaxed now, Struwig still pushed hard and bettered his time on the second loop by 1 min 06 sec.

Jonker was still on the chase, but the gap was slowly getting bigger - and then: the right front tyre of the Raptor started to go flat. Struwig decided to race like that and reach the finish line and the chequered flag 6 min 04 sec ahead of Jonker and 9 min 36 sec ahead of Potgieter.

It was a victory long overdue - and all the loyal supporters and sponsors where happy when the champagne corks eventually flew.

Struwig was lying 15th in the Overall Quad Championship and 13th in the Open Class Championship and has now moved up to the 9th position in the Overall as well as the Open Class Championships.

The Senior Championship was won by another Southern Yamaha Raptor rider, Denis van der Merwe who beat his closest competitor (Geoff Osche) by 32 min 09 sec. Osche however showed real sportsmanship when he assisted the struggling Yamaha Banshee rider, Dallie Terblanche. On overall times, Van der Merwe was the 9th quad rider home. With this excellent result, he strengthen his second position in this championship while scoring good points in the Overall Quad Championship.

The next round of the National Off-road Championship, round 7 of 9, is the Caledon 400 that will take place in the Dewetsdorp area on 26/27 September 2003.

-syr-

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Series Offroad