Round 4: Mafikeng Mini Desert
7 & 8 August 2009
Mafikeng, North-West Province

Team Race Nation Honda’s Dirkie Baard has strengthened his lead in the overall national off-road quad standings when he finished second at the recent Mafikeng Mini Desert, the fourth round of the 2009 SA National Off-road Quad Championship held in the North-West Province.


Unofficial scoring now sees Baard leading his team-mate, Juan Coetzee, who is second, by 24.5 points after the consistent Coetzee finished the gruelling 500km race in sixth place overall. The two Race Nation Elka Suspension Honda riders are also filling the first and second places in the Pro 450 Class championship.

It was a race of attrition as many of their rivals fell by the wayside, but the two Race Nation Honda riders proved their strength as well as the dependability of their race quads by conquering the sandy and rutted route of this testing semi-desert event with their Elka suspension.

It was Baard’s fourth consecutive overall podium position, he has finished three events as the runner-up and has also become the first non-South African racer to win the Quad Roof of Africa in Lesotho earlier this season.

The Namibian, for who the Mafikeng event was an all new experience as this is his first full season in South Africa, started the main race on Saturday (8 August) in pole position after posting the fastest time after the 50 kilometre time-trail on Friday (7 August), the time-trail determined the starting order for the main race and also counted towards the total race time.

He kept his lead for the best part of the race, but the dense, twisty and sandy thorny bush terrain (Digtebos) of the first 240km as well as the heat took his toll on him as he was still recovering from a recent appendix operation. He swopped places twice with the current champion, Brian Baragwanath, and had to settle eventually for a solid second place overall as well as in the Pro 450 Class.

“It was an extremely tough event,” an exhausted Baard commented afterwards, “but I really enjoyed it. The sandy riverbed sections were really testing and to race in Digtebos was a new experience for me,” he said. “This was the first time I race at Mafikeng and I will be even better prepared next time,” he concluded.

Juan Coetzee, who has also finished every race so far this season, prefers technical racing and was in his element in the rutted-out riverbed section that formed the second half of the race. As always he brought his TRX450R home uneventfully, except that he played The Good Samaritan again by assisting a stricken quad competitor.

And with two rounds of the 2009 national championship to go, Coetzee has moved into second place behind his team-mate on the overall standings as well as in the Pro 450 Class championship.

Paulo Costa kept the flag flying high in the Open Class championship when he finished third after beating overheating problems on his TRX 700XX. The big Honda with independent rear suspension started overheating halfway through the race and Costa nursed it home to add more valuable points to his tally in the Open Class championship. 

The penultimate round of the national championship, the Caledon 400, will take place on 25 and 26 September in the Dewetsdorp area in the Free State.