Quad, Bike riders Botswana 1000 preview

TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE A MARATHON EVENT FOR QUADS The Toyota 1000 Desert Race will not only form the third round of the SA national off-road quad championship, but will be a marathon event for the four-wheelers who will have...


The Toyota 1000 Desert Race will not only form the third round of the SA national off-road quad championship, but will be a marathon event for the four-wheelers who will have to complete approximately 610 kilometres on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 June, in Botswana.

Quad competitors participated for the last time officially in Botswana in 2001 before the desert race for quad and motorcycle competitors was moved to South Africa. They do not have a long racing Toyota 1000 Desert Race history and records show that Vicus van Deventer won this event for the first time in 1993. He kept on winning from 1994 to 1996 and scored his last victory in 1999.

Marc Breckle won consecutively in 1997 and 1998 and Jacques "Boesman" Struwig added another Yamaha victory to the list when he won in 2000. Four- time off-road quad champion, Cornel de Villiers, broke the Yamaha chain of victories when he won the 2001 Toyota 1000 Desert Race with the trusted Bombardier 650 Desert Storm. This was also the year that the chain was completely shattered when the first five competitors finished with DS650 quads.

Recently, the smaller 450cc-powered four-stroke quads proved to be race winners and once again, the battle will be on between the bigger and smaller quads and the Can-Am SA Racing team stands a good chance of reclaiming their winner status in Botswana.

De Villiers, who is currently sharing the seventh position overall with youngster Juan Coetzee (Quad Revolution Yamaha YFZ450) will again put his V- twin 800cc Renegade to the test.

His team-mates, Carl Wichmann, Hendrik Potgieter and Leander Pienaar will tackle the Toyota 1000 Desert Race with their Desert Storms and while Wichmann, who is third in the championship, would like to keep his position on the podium, Potgieter (11th) and Pienaar, who won the 2006 Roof of Africa, would hope their bad luck will turn in Botswana. It will be Pienaar's first attempt at this marathon event.

Shaun Gunter (Duncan Racing Race Nation Honda), who won the opening round of the season, is sharing the overall lead with Vincent Loubser (Loerie Yamaha YFZ450) who has also been on the podium and is scoring consistently. Boesman (Southern ATV) is a single point behind the leaders and will attempt to win again in Botswana with his two-stroke Yamaha Banshee-powered Laeger with which he won the recent Limpopo 400 and the 2005 Roof of Africa.

The 17-year old youngsters, Jacques Breedt (ATV Powersport Honda) and Juan Meyer (Suzuki LTR450) are sharing fouth place and are a point ahead of Coetzee. It will be these fearless scholars' first taste of the Toyota 1000 Desert Race and they have the potential to finish on the podium if they can put mind over matter in Botswana.

Dale Stock (Suzuki LTR450) is also in the mix and is sharing fifth place with De Villiers and Coetzee.

Leonard dos Santos (Yamaha YFZ450) is sixth after participating only once this season while seasoned rider, Ockert Mans (M&M Racing Shift Suzuki LTR450) is leading the Senior Class and is seventh overall. He is a point ahead of the Louis Trichardt scholar, Stefan Swanepoel with Simon Thesen (Quad Worx Yamaha YFZ450) ninth and Glen Loubser (Loerie Yamaha YFZ450) rounding off the top ten.

Like Pienaar, Brian Baragwanath (ATV Powersport Lonestar Yamaha) would also like to score his first points for the season while his team-mate, Gerrie Prinsloo (Lonestar Can-Am) has shown potential, but could not convert it into enough points to get into the top ten. Baragwanath finished the 2006 championship in third place which include an overall victory, but Lady Luck has not yet been generous towards him in the field this year. It will be both Baragwanath and Prinsloo's first attempt of this gruelling Botswana event.

In the Pro Open Class class championship, Boesman is leading Wichmann by six points with De Villiers six points behind his team-mate and Potgieter another six points behind the former champ. Vincent Loubser is leading the extremely competitive Pro 450 Class by a single point from Gunther with Bloemfontein scholar, Meyer, eight points behind Gunther in third place.

A victory and third place for both Mans and Christo (CJ) Smith, tie them as the leaders in the Senior Class championship with Rico Coetzee (Honda) and Robert Wagner (Can-Am 650) somewhat behind in second place.

A handful of ladies has participated consistently in the Ladies Class this season with Amanda Eardly (Can-Am Renegade) winning both races and leading this national non-championship class. Karen Wentworth (Auto Motorcycles Suzuki LTR450) is second and Tarryn Steyn (Yamaha YFZ450) third after not finishing the season opener.

Gerrie Keesmaat (Speed Quad Can-Am) is leading the Master Class (national non-championship) from Milton Thesen (Quad Worx Yamaha YFZ450).

Quad competitors will start the Toyota 1000 Desert Race on Saturday and Sunday at 07h00 at Mahetlwe and national riders will have completed just over 300 kilometres each day when they finish at Game City in Gaborone.


Statistics show that KTM has scored the most Toyota 1000 Desert Race victories and during the last ten years that this Botswana event formed part of the SA national off-road championship, KTM won six times. KTM will again take on the rest when motorcycle competitors return to the Toyota Desert Race that will take place from 15 to 17 June.

In 2001, motorcycle competitors took for the last time part in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race when a round of the SA national off-road championship still took place in Botswana. The desert race as a marathon event for motorcycle and quad competitors was then moved back to South Africa where it took place in Vryburg and later in the Mafikeng area.

Former champion, Clayton Enslin, won the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in 2001 on a KTM and so did another former champ, Darryl Curtis, in 2000 also on the orange stalwart. Multiple off-road champion, Alfie Cox, won this endurace race for KTM in 1993, 1994 and 1999 while Alex Vowles was also a winner for this manufacturer in 1996.

And after three rounds of the 2007 SA national off-road championship for motorcycle competitors, three different riders walked away with the overall laurels, but all three brought their Mekatrade AGA LG Red Bull KTM home before the rest. Riaan van Niekerk was the first 200cc winner in years when he won the opening round in Swaziland while Curtis won the Red Cherry 400 and Barry Kriel took his debut victory in the Limpopo Province.

After consistent finishes including two podiums, their team-mate and Barry's elder brother, Spencer Kriel, is leading the overall championship by 10 points from Curtis who could only score twice this season. Enslin, now flying the flag for newcomer team, Natro Freight Indy Oil Motorite Beta, has been on the podium twice, but could not finish the Red Cherry 400 and is trailing Curtis by a single point. Spencer is leading the Open Class from Enslin.

Another former champion, Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic) is known as the Desert King in SA as he has won the Desert Race in the Vryburg area for three consecutive years - 2002, 2003 and 2004 - and again in 2006 at Mafikeng. He has, however, only participated once in Botswana and could not finish the event. Dick is currently fourth in the overall standings after not finishing the Eastern Cape event after another competitor crashed into him and injured his foot.

Another manufacturer, Suzuki, is also in the top five with the 17-year old Theo Potgieter (Ramco Suzuki) one point behind Dick. Potgieter has amazed the off-road motorcycle fraternity by finishing on the overall podium with the small 125cc Suzuki. He has won this class twice this season and is currently second in the 125cc Class championship where Wynand Delport (Shimwells Yamaha) is leading.

Jaco Vermaak (Loerie Yamaha) is sixth on the overall standings - one point behind Potgieter and only two points behind Dick - and if he participates, it will be his first try at the Botswana event. A single point separates Vermaak from Bollie van Rooyen (Sadiba Russell Campbell Kawasaki) in seventh who has been unlucky at his home-event in the Eastern Cape.

Van Rooyen is sharing the seventh position with Wade Blaauw (Salley's Yamaha) who has been scoring consistently. They are a point ahead of KTM riders Barry Kriel, Van Niekerk (who broke his shoulder just before his maiden victory in Swaziland and has not been participating since) and Wayne Farmer (Mean Machine Gas Gas) who is enjoying the bigger 350cc Open Class Gas Gas after participating in the 125cc Class last year.

Privateer rider, Marcus Taljaard (KTM) is ninth and is leading the competitive 200cc Class from Mekatrade AGA LG Red Bull KTM rider, Kyle Poppleton, who has been earning points at every race, but expreienced some problems. Poppleton is used to finishing in the top ten and would like to show his true colours in Botswana.

Gavin Louw (The Roost Kawasaki) is rounding off the top ten and shares the 250cc Class lead with Wynand Kleynhans (ORD Honda). They are eight points ahead of Van Rooyen in this class with Laurence Murton (Ramco Suzuki) the third 250cc rider.

There are four different manufacturers in the overall top five - KTM, Beta, Yamaha and Suzuki - and any one of these riders is really capable of winning.

In the Senior Pro Championship, Dudley Smith (Husqvarna SA), who has not won so far this season, is two points ahead of Shaun Kirk (Ramco Suzuki) who has won the last event in the Limpopo Province with Smith finishing second - only three seconds separated these two riders over the two race days. Kingsley Nurden (Alfie Cox Racing KTM) is third in the Senior Pro Championship.

The Toyota 1000 Desert Race will not be a marathon event for motorcycle competitors who will only have to complete approximately 460 kilometres over Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 June. There will be no time-trail and competitors will start the first racing section on Saturday according to championship points. Motorcycle competitors will start on Saturday at 11h00 at Game City and will finish halfway through the loop at Lensweletau.

On Sunday, they will start at the service point at Lensweletau at 07h00 and will finish the race at Game City after completing the second half of the loop.

-credit: fwdcsa.co.za

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Vicus van Deventer , Alfie Cox , Darryl Curtis , Riaan van Niekerk