Two races in two consecutive days and two different winners – that is what happened in the Ladies Quad Class Challenge at the recent ‘Mantshwabisi’ desert race in Botswana when the national series visited this country on 20 and 21 June for the third and fourth rounds of the 2013 season.
This race was a long one for the female quad competitors who had to complete about 250 kilometres each day and it was not easy. The route consisted of sandy tracks between thorny bushes and some rocky sections while the dry and dusty conditions forced them to race with even more care. That is exactly what they did and all three girls returned to South Africa with some valuable points towards the title in the bag.
The 36-year old businesswoman and mother from Carletonville, Liezel Barnard (Barnard Vervoer Can-Am) strengthened her lead in the Ladies Quad Class Challenge after adding a whopping 45 points to her tally. She won the class after Thursday’s race (the third round of the series) and finished third on Friday (the fourth round) after surviving ending up in a donga and having to manoeuvre her heavy 1000cc four-wheeler out.
A consistent victory and second place with her BB Trucks sponsored Suzuki resulted in the 22-year old Adi du Plessis from Polokwane moving from third into second place in the class. Du Plessis added her first class victory of the season to the well-deserved second place she scored the previous day and a healthy 47 points lifted her to the third place. Du Plessis could unfortunately not complete the season opener, but is now only 25 points behind Barnard with three more rounds remaining.*
A cracked engine casing resulted in the young East London student, Chardri Monk (22) not finishing the first day in the desert. She put up a brave fight the next day – and even survived a tumble and a wrist injury – to bring her Team Thesens Generators KTM quad home in the second place, just over two minutes behind Du Plessis after racing for almost five and a half hours! She is now 20 points behind the Polokwane rider.
One will have to keep in mind though that the points of only six of the seven events will count towards the title at the end of the season. At this stage Barnard have finished all the races and will have to get rid of a handful of points whereas both Du Plessis and Monk could not finish a race and can therefore ‘drop’ those results. This is an interesting situation and will some nail biting action and tactics can be expected during the remaining three events.
Three weeks before the ‘marathon’ event in Botswana, all three girls also competed in the FIM Africa Continental Championship in Uis, Namibia. Team South Africa won the B9 Team Championship (Ladies Quads) after Du Plessis finished second and Barnard third in the class after an extremely tough event. Chardri dislocated her thumb and could unfortunately not complete all five laps.
‘The Mantshwabisi’ also formed a round of the Southern African Off-road Challenge (SORC) and again the three ladies came out tops by finishing in the same positions as per the South African national series.
These girls have proven that no race is too tough for them and that they never give up – even with engine problems or crashing or ending up in a ditch… They will ‘stand their man’ and enjoy every minute of racing their quads!
The next round of the 2013 series takes place on Saturday, 20 July, in the Vryheid area in KwaZulu-Natal. The girls had to complete the full race distance at the season’s first two sprint events (180 kilometres) and then had to complete half the race distance at the two-day ‘marathon’ (250 kilometres each day). Their race will now be 140 kilometres (full distance is 380 kilometres) and the battle for more points towards the title will continue at Vryheid.