Mafikeng Desert Challenge preview

MAFIKENG DESERT CHALLENGE 4th Round of the National Off-road Championship for Bikes and the 5th round for Quads 24 - 26 August 2006 CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS AGAINST THE REST AT MAFIKENG DESERT CHALLENGE The national off-road championship for ...

MAFIKENG DESERT CHALLENGE
4th Round of the National Off-road Championship for Bikes and the 5th round for Quads 24 - 26 August 2006

CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS AGAINST THE REST AT MAFIKENG DESERT CHALLENGE

The national off-road championship for bikes and quads reaches the halfway mark this weekend with the Mafikeng Desert Challenge (24 to 26 August) and the current championship and class leaders will once again be fighting to keep and better their positions while the rest will be hunting for those positions within their reach.

The winner of the last two events, Louwrens Mahoney (Mekatrade AGA LG Tyrolit KTM) would like to add another victory to his last two and to put more points between him and the rest of the pack led by Juan "Bollie" van Rooyen (Sadiba Russell Campbell Kawasaki) who is only two points adrift. Mahoney's team-mate, former champion Darryl Curtis who recently finished third in the Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye in Romania, is a mere three points behind Van Rooyen and he will definitely be chasing hard although he is not too fond of the faster off-road events.

The quad championship leader, Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport Lonestar), has won three of the four events so far this season and enjoys a comfortable lead of 17 points ahead of the 2004 champ, Hendrik Potgieter (Bombardier SA) who is again only three points ahead of Jacques "Boesman" Struwig (Southern ATV Laeger's). Both Potgieter and Struwig are not safe as the Mini Roof winner, Brian Baragwanath (ATV Powersport Lonestar), who is a single point behind Struwig, will be trying to make up for being excluded at the Battlefields 400.

The rest of the four-wheel competitors in the top ten are all capable of a victory - Ricky da Silva (Pro Hydraulics YFZ450) is known for being fast and fearless and seven points separate him from Baragwanath while Carl Wichmann (Bombardier SA) has been scoring consistently this season and a podium position is well within his reach. His team-mate, Leander Pienaar, has been unlucky this season, but he is very fast on the Bombardier DS650 and can cause a stir between the frontrunners.

The type of terrain suits the young Rustenburg racer, Danie Coetzer (Polaris SA Racing Predator) who is ninth in the championship. Outsiders who have shown their steel this season, are the 19-year old Vryburg farmer, WJ van der Merwe (Quadworx VLS) who is used to the Kalahari type of terrain; his team-mate from Cape Town, Johan van Lill; the Breedt brothers (Samuel, Pieter and Jacques) and even the leading Senior Class rider, Hennie Michau (ATV Powersport Lonestar).

The battle in the bike category is not only between the individual competitors, but also between the various manufacturers as almost all the major players (KTM, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and even Gas Gas) are in the running for victories, podium positions and points. Gavin Louw (The Roost Kawasaki) has his work cut-out for him as he is eight points behind Curtis, but only one point ahead of his former team-mate and two times winner of the Kalahari Desert Race, Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic). Dick will be in his element at this marathon event as he prefers faster events.

A podium position at the opening round of the season and consistent scoring see Gary Barton (Ramco Suzuki) filling the sixth place in the championship. He is sharing this position with Spencer Kriel (Natrofreight Carboncor KTM) who finished on the podium at the previous event and they are a mere two points behind Dick. Kyle Poppleton (Mekatrade AGA LG Tyrolit KTM) is enjoying his four-stroke 250cc with which he is leading the 200cc Class and he is sharing the seventh place with the Open Class leader, Jaco Vermaak (Loerie Yamaha). Spencer's team-mate, Craig Stone, who also participated in the tough Romanian endurance event, is eighth overall and one point ahead of Kenneth Gilbert (Shimwells Yamaha/Wasa Racing) and the Swaziland rider, Laurence Murton (Ramco Suzuki) followed by Wynand Kleynhans (Recopane Landscapes Gas Gas).

As important as the overall championships, is the different class championships and the boys on the big bikes (Vermaak, Kleynhans, Curtis, Dick, Kriel and Carel le Roux on the Husqvarna) will fight it out in the Open Class while the red-hot 250cc Class battle will be between class- leader Van Rooyen, Barton and Louw who is sharing third place with Mahoney. Poppleton has a five-point lead in the competitive 200cc Class ahead of Gilbert with Stone trailing Gilbert by 16 points. Local rider, Wayne Farmer (Recopane Landscapes Gas Gas) is currently leading the 125cc Class by one point, but as a veteran competitor, he will have somewhat of an advantage on Shimwells Yamaha newcomer, Wynand Delport. Competition in the Senior Pro Championship is strong with Dudley Smith (Husaberg) comfortably leading Kingsley Nurden (Alfie Cox Adventure Sport) and Shaun Kirk (Ramco Suzuki).

In the quad championship, only Pro 500 Class riders have won so far this season as the more technical and slower events suit the light and nimble quads with engine sizes less than 500cc. Here Badenhorst is leading Da Silva and team-mate Baragwanath while Struwig is leading Potgieter by two points in the Pro Open Class. In the Senior Class Michau is leading Barry Baars (Valvetech Bombardier) by one point while the rest of the riders have some catching-up to do. Mark Lamb (Kawasaki) is leading the Sportsmans Class followed by Kabelo Ledwaba (ATV Powersport Lonestar).

The Mafikeng Desert Challenge will start with a 120 kilometre time-trail on Thursday, 23 August, that will determine the starting position for the first day of the main race. On Friday and Saturday, the leading quads will tackle the first of the two loops at 7h00 while the bikers will start with the opposite loop at 8h00. The start and finish of the event as well as the central service point will be next to the military base on Nelson Mandela Drive just past the Tusk Hotel and Casino.

-credit: www.nwmotorsport.co.za

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox