Don’t judge these girls on the colour of their lipstick! Now, that is a fact when you talking about the ladies competing in the 2013 SA National Off-road Quad Championship as these girls are just as tough as the guys when it comes to taking on the harshest conditions and finishing a gruelling off-road race.
The ladies have been competing in off-road quad racing for years and have produced results that served as a motivation to many a male competitor. Some of these girls are back this season and although the numbers are somewhat down, the competition are still strong.
At the Vogelstruispan 200, the opening round of the National Off-road Quad Championship that took place in February on a sandy and rutted 60 kilometre route outside Bela Bela in the Limpopo Province, it was the East London youngster, Chardri Monk, who came back with a vengeance after being out of action for the best part of the 2012 season due to a back injury.
Monk, racing for Team Thesens Generators on her trusted 450cc KTM quad, won the Ladies Quad Class and finished 17th in the Q1 Class Championship. (Note: female competitors are allowed to enter into another national championship class as the Ladies Quad Class does not qualify as a championship class.) This victory came as a little bit of a surprise as she raced the full 180 kilometre distance (three laps of 60 kilometres) with a blown rear shock absorber resulting in a very uncomfortable four hours in the saddle.
The graphic design student was however happy with her results, especially as her crew had to travel long distances to compete in this year’s championship. Three of the season’s races – all three Sprint Events of about 180 kilometres – will be in the Gauteng area where the bulk of competitors are based. They will also have to travel to Botswana for a Marathon Event consisting of a total of 1 000 kilometres (two days of 500 kilometres each) while two more races of 300 kilometres each will be held in the Hluhluwe area in KwaZulu-Natal and the Ventersdorp area in the North-West Province.
Monk’s opposition was somewhat thinned out with the demise of the young Polokwane rider, Adi du Plessis, who competes under the Evolution Racing banner with a Suzuki LTR450. It was a first race in a long time for Du Plessis who also crashed last year and had to recover from her injuries. Her quad overheated and she had to call it a day, but she vowed to be back to continue the battle between the ladies.
A new name, that of Liezel Barnard, appeared on the results and she walked away with a healthy amount of points as the runner-up in the Ladies Quad Class. Other than Monk, Barnard entered in the Silver Class Challenge and also claimed a podium position in this class with a third place. Monk and Du Plessis both compete with 450cc sport quads whereas Barnard had to handle her big 800cc powered Can-Am Renegade (a utility quad) around the tight bends and trees on the route.
Mud and dust? A broken nail? No problem for these girls who are ladies off the track, but while racing, they show the guys how it should be done. The battle between Monk and Barnard will continue at the next event as only 10 minutes separated them at the season opener while Du Plessis can not be left out of the picture as she would like to make up for lost points.
The next round of the 2013 championship will take place on 27 April in the Bronkhorstspruit area in Gauteng. It will again be a Sprint Event where the fitness of the competitors will be tested.