Quads Mini Roof preview

3rd Round of the ATV Powersport ITP national off-road championship for quads . Wet Mini Roof expected . Quad-friendly route awaits competitors . Close racing in National Championship . More than 70 entries received to date QUAD...

3rd Round of the ATV Powersport ITP national off-road championship for quads

. Wet Mini Roof expected
. Quad-friendly route awaits competitors
. Close racing in National Championship
. More than 70 entries received to date


Mini Roof competitors will have to prepare themselves for wet racing conditions in Lesotho as this country received a lot of rain recently and thunderstorms are predicted for Friday. According to the weather bureau, Saturday will be partly cloudy and quite cool, but no rain is expected for the day of the main race.

Those competitors who have participated in previous Roof of Africa rallies will know what to expect from the route after a lot of rain and riders like Jacques "Boesman" Struwig can still remember how his quad was washed away by a river in 1996 while he had to be air-lifted by a helicopter! According to the organisers, the area is quite wet because of daily rains during the weekend, but the rivers are not dangerous or in flood and the route will still be very quad-friendly with a good combination of fast and technical sections.

The ATV Powersport team is currently on a roll and after Brendan Badenhorst's victories at the first two off-road races of the season and the team claiming the manufacturer's trophy at the Noodsberg 400 after a Lonestart 450 1-2-3 result, they are definitely the team to beat. Badenhorst has a comfortable lead in the overall championship and is leading his team-mate, Zane Davidson, by 12 points. It will be the first time these two riders compete in the Mini Roof, but it's Badenhorst's second visit to Lesotho and his victory of the 2004 Roof of Africa will still be fresh in his memory.

Their competition will be fierce and will be from riders who have more experience of Lesotho racing. The 2004 champion, Hendrik Potgieter, and his new team-mate, Carl Wichmann (Bombardier Speed Quad), currently third and fourth respectively on the point's ladder, have not won in Lesotho before, but both riders have the ability and equipment to do so at the Mini Roof. Wichmann was leading the 2003 Mini Roof at one stage, but mechanical glitches kept him from winning and he finished sixth overall. Potgieter is known for his consistency and won the extremely wet Caledon 400 last year.

Jacques Struwig (Southern ATV) and Ricky da Silva (ATV Powersport Lonestar 450) is sharing the fifth position in the championship and Struwig would like to improve his 2003 Mini Roof results - he was the fist rider to tackle the main race, but he got lost soon after the start. He found himself on the time-trial route and after finishing it, he got to the start of the race where he started the main race all over again, but this time as the very last rider. He eventually finished seventh overall, but won the Roof of Africa later that same year.

It seems as if the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists' 2004 Motorsportman of the Year, Cornel de Villiers (Bombardier Speed Quad), is getting back into form and after a strong fourth place at the recent Noodsberg 400, he has showed that he is still a force to be reckoned with. This three-times off- road quad champion won the Roof of Africa in 2001 and 2002 and the Dakar Rally in 2004 and is a real endurance rider.

Other riders that might spring a surprise-victory on the rest, include the 2003 Mini Roof winner, Charles Jonker (Speed Bike Bombardier); Tiaan Reynecke (EMD Racing Yamaha Raptor); Dallie Terblanche (CIT Honda) who finished second overall at the 2003 Mini Roof; Stefan Coetzee (Quad Worx VLS) who was the runner-up in the 2004 championship, but has not scored points so far this season or even Kiri Oberholzer (Polaris SA Racing Predator) who scored points at both events this year. The youngster, Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha YFZ450) will also participate in Lesotho for the first time and although he might not win straight away due to a lack of experience, he stands a good chance of finishing in the top ten like he did at the Noodsberg 400, when he was the sixth rider home.

Some of the Senior-riders managed to finish consistently in the top ten and although they still have to win an event overall, they are scoring valuable points towards the Senior and overall championships. Christo van der Merwe (Bombardier Speed Quad Nelspruit) won this category in Swaziland and at the Noodsberg 400, but the defending Senior Champion, Hennie Michau (Bombardier) is back after not competing in Swaziland. Both these riders have racing experience in Lesotho and can finish in the top ten again.

Riders in the Open, Senior and Sportsman classes (national championship) need to finish the 41,6km time-trial on Friday and both the 76,5km first loop and the 84,2km second loop on Saturday twice while competitors in the Novice and Ladies Classes only do 160,7km (half the route) and riders in the national non-championship 30 Plus (30 to 37 years) and Master Classes (46 years and older) do 237,2km.

The Mini Roof starts on Friday (April 1) with documentation and the time- trial that will determine the starting positions and starting times for the main race on Saturday (April 2). The first quad rider will tackle the 67,5km loop Saturday morning at 7h00 at the Sefikeng school (36km from Maseru) where the designated service point as well as the start and finish of the event will be.


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