Caledon 400 preview

7th Round of the ATV Powersport ITP National Off-road Championship for Quads Tweespruit, Free State . 2004 Dakar winner leads championship . Bombardier unbeatable for last three years . Outsiders can win Caledon 400 QUADS IN TIGHT BATTLE FOR...

7th Round of the ATV Powersport ITP National Off-road Championship for Quads
Tweespruit, Free State

. 2004 Dakar winner leads championship
. Bombardier unbeatable for last three years
. Outsiders can win Caledon 400


It is two victories against four for Cornel de Villiers (Bombardier Speed Quad), the current leader of the ATV Powersport ITP national off-road championship for quads. He is leading second-placed Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport Lonestar Honda) who won four events so far this season, by a mere seven points.

Badenhorst led the championship until the last event and it will be a tight battle for both riders who would like to add another championship title to their names - for De Villiers it would be his fourth while it would be Badenhorst's second overall title. And with only three events remaining in the championship this year, the Caledon 400, which is taking place in the Tweespruit area in the Free State this coming weekend, will be the ideal event to score some valuable points.

And the Bombardier Speed Quad squad has a reputation to keep up as members of this team have won the Caledon 400 for the last three consecutive years - De Villiers was victorious in 2002; Shaun Gunther in 2003 and Hendrik Potgieter last year. It is interesting to note that after each of these riders won the Free State, they also won the overall championship. The Bombardier Speed Quad team is quite close together in the championship while they have finished regularly on the podium and can do so again at Tweespruit. Carl Wichmann is 10 points behind Badenhorst and third on the point's ladder while 11 points separate the defending champion, Hendrik Potgieter, from teammate Wichmann. Potgieter would dearly like to win this event as this was his last victory up to now.

Dallie Terblanche is fifth overall, but would not be able to participate due to business commitments while sixth-placed Tiaan Reynecke (EMD Racing Yamaha Raptor), will also be absent due to a family crisis. This will probably mean that Reynecke will loose his position as the consistent Christo van der Merwe (Bombardier Speed Quad), who is seventh overall and also leading the Senior Championship, only needs two points to overtake him.

Nine riders, eight points and five positions - this is the situation from Reynecke to the rest of the Top Eleven. Kiri Oberholzer (Polaris SA Racing Predator) has had a consistent season so far and is three points behind Van der Merwe in eighth place while Chris Jarvis (Wilrogate Yamaha YFZ450) and Jacques "Boesman" Struwig (Southern ATV) is sharing ninth place and a single point is separating them from Oberholzer. Zane Davidson and Ricky da Silva (Yamaha YFZ450) are sharing tenth place and are only one point behind Jarvis and Struwig. Davidson will however not be racing while Da Silva, a race-winner in the past, might take some points away from the frontrunners.

And just outside the Top Ten are two Limpopo Province riders who experienced some bad luck this season, but who are capable of finishing between the leaders - the defending Senior Champion from Tuinplaas, Hennie Michau (Bombardier) and the young and upcoming Polokwane rider, Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha YFZ450). They are one point behind the tenth-placed duo.

Other riders who might upset the applecart, are local Bloemfontein riders Leander Pienaar (Jet Sport Bombardier) and TJ Meyer (Honda TRX450); Stefan Coetzee (Quadworx VLS) who finished second in the overall championship last year, but could not manage to finish a race this year; Charles Jonker (Speed Bike Bombardier) and Simon Thesen (Lonestar 450).

The new Sportsmans Class needs enough entries for the competitors to score points. Heinrich du Toit (Gas Gas Factory Team) is leading this class, but his teammate, Karel Swart, won the class at the last two events. There are also classes and shortened races for female competitors, competitors in the 30 Plus Class as well as riders over 46 years of age in the Master's Class.

The Caledon 400 starts on Friday, 23 September, with a 60km time-trail that will determine the starting grid and starting times for the main race on Saturday, 24 September. National bike and quad competitors will start the race at 8h00 on two separate 100km routes which they had to complete twice.

Hot and dry conditions are expected for the weekend and although the surface of the race route is very hard, it will be a welcome change from last year's event for most quad riders. The extremely wet 2004 Caledon 400 caused many quad competitors to retire early as the muddy water that was sprayed up by the front tyres of their racing quads, got into their eyes.


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