No race too long or short for these lady quad riders!
ONE OR SIX DAYS – NO RACE IS TOO TOUGH FOR THESE LADY OFF-ROAD COMPETITORS
There is just nothing stopping these lady competitors on their off-road motorcycles or quads – be it a six-day, 1 500 kilometre ‘Rally Raid’ through the Knersvlakte in the Western Cape or a tough and dusty national off-road championship event at Kimberley or Vryheid.
The two lady quad riders, Liezel Barnard, racing for Barnard Vervoer on her 1 000cc-powered 4×4 Can-Am Renegade and Chardri Monk, who participates under the Team Thesens Generators Racing with her 700cc Yamaha Raptor – and two lady motorcycle competitors (Toni Jardine who races with a KTM and Taye Perry who forms part of Team Bert Smith All Stars Racing Powered by RAD KTM) have literally been in the saddle for more than 2 000 kilometres in a month participating in two rounds of the SA National Off-road Championship as well as the Namaqua African Rally in the Vredendal area at the Cape West Coast.
Barnard, who led the Ladies Quad Class in the National Off-road Championship after winning this class at the Windsorton 400 in the Northern Cape (12 April), tackled each day of the Namaqua African Rally and raced until the end before the drive-shaft of her Renegade broke on the very last day. It was fixed and after the Can-Am received a proper service, it was ready to tackle the BELL 400 (10 May), the third round of the championship at Vryheid. The 34-year old mother of three and business woman from Carletonville on the West Rand completed a safe race in dusty conditions to claim her second runner-up result so far this season and keep her lead in both the Ladies Quad Class as well as in the Combined Ladies Class Championship.
After finishing as the runner-up in the Ladies Quad Class at the Windsorton 400 national off-road event north of Kimberley, Monk (22), a graphic designer from East London, was also excited to compete in her first ever ‘Rally Raid’ event. It was a first experience for all four the lady riders as it is the first race of its kind in South Africa. Monk completed each day of the Namaqua African Rally (five days of racing with a Rest Day inbetween) despite experiencing a few small mechanical issues to come out tops of the lady quad riders – she finished 33rd overall between all the motorcycle and quad competitors – and was third in the Ladies Class.
Back from Vredendal, the navigational equipment was removed from the Yamaha Raptor and it received some much needed ‘TLC’ – luckily none of the girls had blisters on their hands after hours in the saddle or experienced any other injuries – before Monk tackled the BELL 400 where she claimed her first victory in the Ladies Quad Class this season. This result has moved her up to the fourth place in the Combined Ladies Championship with three rounds of the national championship still remaining.
On two wheels the ferocious battle that started last year between Jardine on her 250cc KTM and Perry, who competes with a 450cc KTM, continued with Jardine claiming victories after both rounds of the national off-road championship (the Windsorton 400 and Bell 400). She now leads the Ladies Motorcycle Class while she has moved to the second place behind Barnard in the Combined Ladies Championship with her disappointing result at the season opener (the Diamond Route 400 where she experienced major mechanical problems) still having an effect on her bid for this new championship title.
After deciding on the last minute to participate in the Namaqua African Rally as part of Team Barnard Vervoer, Jardine (21), a professional motorcycle competitor and rider trainer – with only mom Mandi as her support crew – won the Ladies Class by beating Perry by just less than a minute and a half after a see-saw battle during the race. Jardine finished the race in 18th place overall. She also won the M1.1 Lites Class for competitors with motorcycles with engine sizes up to 250cc.
A crash and a few injured ribs earlier this season did not keep the 22-year old Perry from Centurion in Pretoria back and she claimed three consecutive podium positions in the Ladies Motorcycle Class in the national off-road championship to move into the second place behind Jardine in this class. Her consistency and determination resulted in her to jump onto the podium in the Combined Ladies Championship where she now fills the third place between the female motorcycle and quad competitors.
She had to turn her piggy bank upside down to enter the Namaqua African Rally and showed the rest of the (mostly male) competitors a thing or two ‘standing her man’ with her 450cc KTM. She eventually finished 19th overall in the ‘Rally Raid’ – she won the M1.2 Lites Class for competitors with motorcycles up to 450cc – and beamed about the fast, open routes that suited her riding style perfectly.
A total of 660 racing kilometres (three events) and three rounds of the national off-road championship still awaits these ladies who all have their eye on the first ever Combined Ladies Championship title. The next event, the Vryburg Stella 400 Bush2Bush Challenge (the fourth round of the national series) takes place on 14 June in the North-West Province and anything can still happen as only a handful of points are now separating the ladies in the classes and the Combined Ladies Championship.
The ladies also hope that motorcycle competitors Nanda Swiegers (Yamaha), who won the Ladies Class at the season opener, but could not compete in the BELL 400 and the Pretoria scholar, Anaïs Steenkamp (Kawasaki) who competed in her first national event at the BELL 400, but crashed and was slightly injured, will be back in the saddle for the second half of the season.
Barnard and Monk are also looking forward on having the first winner of the 2014 Ladies Quad Class, Maryna Venter (Honda) back in action while there is a chance that well-known lady quad competitor, Adi du Plessis, might return to competitive racing before the end of the season.
More ladies are invited to join in the fun of off-road racing!
The ladies would like to thank Barnard Vervoer and SITE for making prize money available to podium finishers at each national off-road event.
The Combined Ladies Class Championship is being supported by MSA’s Women in Motorsport (WIM).