Gaborone: Quad and Bike preview

SA NATIONAL OFF-ROAD QUAD CHAMPIONSHIP QUADS HAVE TO GIVE LADY LUCK A LIFT IN BOTSWANA The quad category at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race was ruled by Yamaha in earlier years when this gruelling race took place in Botswana. This year, various...



The quad category at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race was ruled by Yamaha in earlier years when this gruelling race took place in Botswana. This year, various quad manufacturers stand a chance of winning the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, the fourth round of the SA National Off-road Quad Championship that will take place from 13 to 15 June in Botswana.

Quad competitors have, however, learned that with this race, nothing is for certain and you first have to get to the finish to claim your place in the record books. Last year Leander Pienaar was leading the race for two days when the engine of his Can-Am DS650 called it a day about 10 kilometres before the finish. The same fate struck the 2000 Desert Race winner, Jacques "Boesman" Struwig about 30 kilometres before the finish and Shaun Gunther, who is currently competing in the UK, gave Lady Luck a lift to the finish and walked away with his first Desert Race victory.

This year, a handful of competitors and manufacturers stand a chance of winning this prestigious race that will consist of about 850 tough kilometres in Botswana. Brian Baragwanath (HST USA Yamaha YFZ450) has won the last two races and is leading overall as the Pro 450 Class championship. Baragwanath will aim for his first Desert Race victory and would like to add his name to the eight previous winners with their trusty Yamahas.

Boesman, now on the KTM 525-powered Polaris Outlaw, is currently second overall and leads the Open Class. The marathon event will suit him and his Polaris with independent rear suspension and he would hope for his luck at the recent desert races to change.

The desert-like terrain suited the big DS650 in the past and Can-Am (multiple champion, Cornel de Villiers) won this event in 2001, 2002 and 2003. This year Team Absa Can-Am will attempt to make history with the new 450cc-powered Can-Am DS450. Pienaar, who won the Quad Roof of Africa earlier this year with the brand new DS450, and his team-mates, Carl Wichmann and former champ, Hendrik Potgieter, as well as Clayton du Plessis all stand a chance of winning if teething problems don't hinder them.

A few upcoming youngsters have performed excellently this season and three scholars are between the frontrunners. Juan Coetzee (Honda Race Nation Quad Revolution) crashed last year in Botswana, but is back on form and is fifth overall; Chris Meyer (Salley's Yamaha) has surprised everyone with his consistency; Lourens de Beer (Kia Motors Vryheid / Suzuki SA) visited the overall podium already once this season and Andre du Plessis (Polaris Outlaw 525 IRS) might be inexperienced, but he is fast.

Inexperience will, however, have to stand up against the experience of those racers who had visited Botswana before. The Loubser brothers, Vincent, the current Pro 450 Class champion who will definitely be on the lookout for Lady Luck, and Glen are known for getting to the finish and scoring points. The Breedt brothers, Pieter (Can-Am DS650) and Jacques (ATV Powersport Honda) are also fast and consistent and both stand a chance of finishing up front. Chris Meyer's elder brother, TJ, might be his back-up on the Kawasaki KFX450-R.

And with the hungry pack chasing for the victory and the overall podium, a few riders can upset the applecart. Danie Coetzer has achieved good results with the new KTM quad; Dale Stock (Sadiba Out of Africa Campbell Kawasaki) is always consistent and if Stefan Coetzee (Yamaha) can get to the finish, he might score good points.

In the Senior Class, Colin Joubert (Suzuki) has a comfortable lead, but Christo van der Merwe (Team Absa Can-Am) will be aiming for a win with the new DS450 to better his second place.

The relaxed atmosphere between the competitors in the Master Class for competitors older than 45 years might hide away the fierce battles. Leading the battle is the 2007 winner, Milton Thesen (Yamaha) with the lady racer, Karen Wentworth (Auto Motorcycles Suzuki) behind him and various riders aiming to finish the race and score points.

And with three consecutive victories, Amanda Eardley (Team Absa Can-Am Renegade) is leading the Ladies Class.

On Saturday, 14 June, competitors in the quad category will start the race at 08h00 at Hatsalatladi to reach the service point after 200 kilometres. They will then proceed to Mokolodi where they will finish after about 200 kilometres and will ride at a relaxed pace to Game City at Gaborone.

On Sunday, 15 June, they will again start at Hatsalatladi and complete a 150km loop twice after which they will proceed to Game City.



The Austrian motorcycle manufacturer, KTM, is undoubtedly the King of the Desert with 14 victories since the inception of the Desert Race in 1978 and would like to strengthen their record with another Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race victory when they tackle this event from 13 to 15 June in Botswana. This event will form the fourth round of the SA National Off-road Motorcycle Championship.

Although KTM has ruled this event, the overall winner of the 2007 motorcycle category, Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha) has the most desert race victories in recent years. Since the event moved back to South Africa in 2002, Dick has won it for three consecutive years (2002 to 2004) and again in 2006 while he was also the winner of the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana last year.

The battle will be on between KTM and the rest of the field as only DCM AGA LG Red Bull KTM riders have managed to win so far this season. Riaan van Niekerk has won the last two events and is leading overall, but his entry in the 200cc Class might be out-powered by the bigger Open Class bikes. His team-mate, Darryl Curtis, has just returned from Austria where he finished 13th overall out of more than 1 500 entries for the Erzberg Enduro and is super-fit. He would like to win this race again as he has only won once (1999) before in Botswana.

Dick will be a strong contender for the overall laurels and so will the ORD Racing Honda riders, Wynand Kleynhans, who is leading the Open Class and is second overall, and Wade Blaauw who has performed consistently this season. Team ORD Racing Honda has shown that they mean business this season and Kleynhans and Blaauw will have the support of their team-mates Kobus Jonck, Sam Barnard, the youngster CJ Blackman and Mark Garland.

And while KTM, Yamaha and Honda are fighting it out, third-placed rider, Juan "Bollie" van Rooyen (Sadiba Out of Africa Campbell Kawasaki), might upset the applecart. Former winner (2001), Clayton Enslin (Natro Freight Motorite Indy Oil Shimwells Yamaha) stands a good chance of doing so again this year.

One of the underdogs this season, is Brett Lewis (KTM Cape Town / Leatt Brace) who earned his fourth place overall with two top-ten positions and it will be interesting to see how he will do between the veterans during his first desert race in Botswana.

Although the race might suit the stronger bikes better, there are a handful of newcomers who had surprised friend and foe this season and who might cause a stir again. In this camp, Lewis is joined by CJ Blackman and his brother Jarrod; Werner Rall; one of the youngest competitors and Ruan Roberts (DCM AGA LG Red Bull KTM) who won the 125cc Class at the last event.

They will have to stand their man between riders with more experience like Gavin Louw (The Roost Kawasaki) who seem to be back in form; Wynand Delport (Shimwells Yamaha) who had scored a podium position earlier this season and his team-mate, Zac Botha. Although the battle for the overall victory will be fought between 250cc and Open Class competitors, the competition in the classes to strengthen championship standings will be fierce. Delport is leading the 250cc Class championship with Sadiba Out of Africa Campbell Kawasaki rider, Laurence Murton, closing in on him and Lesotho rider, Seamus McCarthy (Salley's Yamaha) not too far behind.

With only a point separating Kleynhans and Van Rooyen in the Open Class and outsiders like Enslin; Dick and Curtis further down on the point's ladder, but capable of winning, this battle will be one to follow in Botswana.

Experience is the name of the game in the Senior Class championship. A mere point separates Brian Bader (The Roost Kawasaki) from Wayne Farmer (World of Accessories Gas Gas) and both riders have tasted victory this season. Now it will be a case of the survival of the fittest with more points waiting on finishing the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race.

Motorcycle competitors will tackle the 2008 Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race on Saturday, 14 June at 08h00 at Hatsalatladi and will complete a 150km circle route. After a mandatory 15 minute de-control, they will be off to take on the same loop again after which they will continue to finish at Game City. On Sunday, 15 June, the survivors will start at 08h00 at Game City in Gaborone and will travel for about 250km to Kopong, Bokaa, and the Thagale River and to Hatsalatladi.

The second half of the day is another 250km loop that will take racers within 50kms of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, past Boatlename towards Medie and back to the service point at Hatsalatladi where they will finish.

Almost a thousand kilometres of sand, river crossings, rocky terrains and thorn trees will see the crowning of the winner of the 2008 Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race.


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Series Other rally
Drivers Darryl Curtis , Riaan van Niekerk