The Ventersdorp area of the North West Province will be the final battlefield in the 2013 SA Off-Road championship for motorcycles and quads, as the Ventersdorp 400 - the last round of the National series - explodes into action this weekend (5 October) with a number of class titles still up for grabs.
After a season that consisted for the first time of shorter (180km) and longer (360km) off-road races with one gruelling two-day, 1000km marathon, the championship standings are closer than they have been in years.
The pressure will not only be on the front runners, but on all the serious competitors; their final standings will be important to them, their sponsors and supporters. It will also be the last chance for off-road motorcycle and quad riders to enjoy a popular race voted in 2012 as the Best National Off-road Event.
All eyes will be on the sharp end of the motorcycle category, where overall leader Kenny Gilbert, on a 'works' Yamaha and Yamaha privateer Ruan Roberts are just two points apart - and after the Ventersdorp finale, each will drop his worst set of results as only six of the seven races count towards the final tally.
But wait, as they say, there's more:
The same two riders are in exactly the same position in the OR1 (Open Class) title chase - but they'll have to play it safe in Ventersdorp because third-placed Michael Pentecost - on yet another 'Jamjar' - who has already clinched the OR3 (200cc) title for 2013, will be competing in OR1 in this race, and is close enough to walk away with the spoils.
Just a handful of points will secure Pentecost's team mate Timmy Young the OR2 (250cc) title with his closest rival, Jonathan van Wyk (KTM) 23 points behind and Husqvarna rider Ruan Smith third.
Young, who can keep all his current points as he didn't score at the season opener, is fifth in the overall standings, but can overtake the consistent Altus de Wet (Husqvarna) who still has to drop some points. JC de Bruin (Yamaha) stands a chance to overtake the injured Nicholas Pienaar (KTM) who is out of action for Ventersdorp; De Bruin and Juan 'Bollie' van Rooyen (KTM) are tied on points and the battle for the best finishing position for the season is on!
ONLY FIVE POINTS IN IT
Jaycee Nienaber (Yamaha) is second behind Pentecost in OR3, while Louw Schmidt (KTM), has already clinched the OR4 (Under 21) title ahead of Taki Bogiages (KTM) and Wilhelm Schonfeld (Yamaha).
Pieter Holl (KTM) has secured the Senior Class title but behind him former champion Wayne Farmer (Gas Gas) will be hoping that Lady Luck smiles upon him so he can pass second-placed Justin Broughton (Kawasaki) - only five points separate them.
Martin Poole (Yamaha) leads the Master Class championship but third-placed Leon Gerber (KTM) will be eyeing a third class win and could pass second-placed Jan Berning if the latter puts a wheel wrong.
Taye Perry (KTM) is leading the Ladies Class but her consistency might cost her dearly as she still has to discard points whereas second-placed Toni Jardine (KTM) could not finish in Botswana and can keep all her points; they'll have to settle that debate at Ventersdorp.
The pressure will be on the defending Q1 champion and 2012 title holder, Yamaha rider Jurie Meyer; he's leading the overall standings, but the gap to second-placed Brian Baragwanath, also on a Yamaha, isn't big enough for comfort. Meyer still has to drop points while Baragwanath and third-placed John Aylward (Yamaha) have each failed to finish once this season.
The ding-dong battle between Rorke Millar (Can-Am) and Freddie Taljaard (Suzuki) will finally be settled. Each has scored the same number of points thus far (although Taljaard will have to discard more points than Millar as things stand now) so their results at Ventersdorp will determine their positions for the season.
Ironically, Jacques 'Boesman' Struwig (Suzuki) is the top Senior Class rider in the overall standings (he's sixth), but he's third on the Senior Class leaderboard behind former champion Paul Chomse (Banshee), who leads the class standings after three wins, and the consistent Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki).
André du Plessis (Yamaha) has worked himself up to seventh overall after a disastrous start to the season and can still catch Struwig while Chomse is not far behind in eighth overall, and Damien Lee (Honda) trails Chomse by a single point.
Justin Long (Suzuki) has taken the lead in the season-long battle in the Q2 Class for riders older than 28 years, but he'll need a solid points-scoring finish at Ventersdorp to keep Oz Osbourne (Yamaha) at bay. Chris Pieters (Honda), is currently third, just one point ahead of the most recent class winner, Paul dos Santos (Suzuki).
Jurie Meyer Senior (Yamaha) has clinched another Master Class Quad title and can now be his son's pit crew. Consistent results have lifted Tony dos Santos (Suzuki) to second, while third-placed Peter Schenk (Honda) will be under pressure from newcomer George Twigge (Can-Am), who has already notched up a class win.
Adi du Plessis (Suzuki) and Liezel Barnard (Can-Am) will battle it out for Ladies Class Quad title.
The Ventersdorp 400 will start at the Trimpark in Ventersdorp (which will also be the designated service point and the finish) at 8am on Saturday 5 October, with the bikes and quads taking on two different 60km loops. Each rider will have to complete three laps before swopping loops for another three laps.