Jacques Struwig Swazi 400 summary

Second Successive Victory for Southern Yamaha's "Boesman" on New YFZ450 Jacques "Boesman" Struwig started the 2004 season in the same victorious way he ended off the 2003 SA National Off-road Racing season for Motorcycles and Quads - with...

Second Successive Victory for Southern Yamaha's "Boesman" on New YFZ450

Jacques "Boesman" Struwig started the 2004 season in the same victorious way he ended off the 2003 SA National Off-road Racing season for Motorcycles and Quads - with another glorious victory in one of South Africa's neighboring countries, Swaziland. Struwig won the last race on the 2003 calendar, the Roof of Africa in Lesotho with the new Southern Yamaha YFZ450 quad - it was the first victory for this new racing quad while it was also Struwig's first Roof of Africa victory after eight attempts at this gruelling race over three days in the mountains of Lesotho.

After the 65km time trial, Struwig started the Skyoil Swazi 400 from pole position with his closest rival, the 2000 off-road champion, Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport Yamaha Banshee Laeger) 25 seconds behind him and Tiaan Reyneke (ATV Powersport Yamaha Raptor) third. But the Southern Yamaha rider lost his lead about 25km into the race when the chain on his YFZ450 came off. It took him about 4 minutes to fix it and four riders (Reynecke; Carl Wichmann on the ATV Powersport Yamaha YFZ450; Zane Davidson on the Perry Yamaha Raptor and Stefan Coetzee on the VLS Africa VLS) passed him.

Struwig caught three of the riders before the end of this 108km lap and entered the pits area one minute behind Badenhorst who was doing extremely well for someone who did not race for more than a year! Early in the second lap - the riders had to complete four laps - Badenhorst got lost and Struwig took the lead again and this time he kept it until he received the chequered flag 08min 14sec ahead of Badenhorst who was second. Another Yamaha rider, Wichmann, was the third rider to reach the finish line.

With the three Yamaha riders safely home, the Bombardier squad reached the finish line - the Speed Quad Bombardier team's Hendrik Potgieter was fourth followed by the defending champion, Shaun Gunther and South Africa's Dakar hero, Cornel de Villiers, all on the new model DS650 quad. Charles Jonker (Speed Quad Bombardier) filled the 7th place hampered by a knee injury after he crashed at The Roost Carousel 400 last year.

Davidson did very well to finish in the top ten followed by the privateer riders, Hanru Fourie and Michael Trafoyer, both on Bombardier DS650 quads.

The results showed a different story however and it is important to note that only the first position (Struwig's) is undisputed and final and the rest of the results will be final after certain queries are sorted out. Gunther was given time back after he stopped and spend some time with an injured rider. With this time gained, he moved into the third position overall with Wichmann now fourth and Potgieter fifth overall.

It was the first outing for the new Polaris Racing team and they achieved mixed success. It was a disastrous start for Dallie Terblanche, the sugarcane farmer from Pongola who finished second in the 2003 off-road racing championship, when both the wheels on his Polaris Racing Predator came off during time trial. This resulted in him starting in the 82nd place and he had to fight his way through the field, but he managed well to finish in the 30th overall position - he was 21st in the Open Class (nine Senior riders finished ahead of him and score points in their own class).

His team-mate, a scholar from Rustenburg, Danie Coetzer, finished his third national event after also experiencing some shock and electrical problems while he also completed a lap with a flat tyre. He also stopped at an injured rider and finished 19th overall, 16th in the Open Class. Kobus Oberholzer (Kiri) from Britz had a good start when he was the 7th rider on the starting grid, but he fell and injured his wrist and could not finish his first national event on the Polaris Racing Predator.

It was also the first time out for the brand new VLS 525 with Stefan Coetzee and Jimmy Zahos. Coetzee, who was the 5th rider to start the race, had a scary experience when some riders turned back after they followed the wrong route resulting in the VLS rider connecting nerf-bars with another quad rider. This accident was also the cause of a flat tyre that he had to fix. He still finished in an excellent 11th place overall while Zahos was 17th overall.

There was a great number of Senior quad riders (older than 38 years) and 15 managed to complete the Skyoil Swazi 400. Christo van der Merwe (Yamaha YFZ450) won the Senior Class followed by Paul Boshoff (Yamaha Banshee) and Kevern Pelser (Bombardier).

More and more quad riders are participating in off-road racing and a huge number of 85 riders started the opening round of the SA National Off-road Championship in Swaziland (this excludes novice and club entries).

The second round on the national off-road racing calendar, is the Noodsberg 400, a new event that will take place in the Wartburg area close to Pietermartizburg in KwaZulu-Natal on March 19 and 20, 2004.

-et-

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