Desert-type racing returns to Stella


Stella, North West Province - The Vryburg Stella 400, Round 4 of the SA Off-Road Motorcycle and Quad championship on 14 June, will bring National racing back to the Bophirima region - also known as the 'Texas of South Africa' because of its huge cattle farms - for the first time in a number of years.

Riders can expect a crisp (read icy cold!) early-morning start to a 360km desert-type race, centred on the Stella Beesfees showgrounds at Stella, a small town situated about 45km north of Vryburg on the R49.

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The Vryburg Stella 400 will be a home race for Mafikeng rider Jarryd Coetzee.Justin Robert (Suzuki) is leading Q2 and third overall in the national quad category.

The terrain should suit Botswana rider Ross Branch (KTM), who moved to the top of the overall and OR1 (Open Class) standings after adding a win at the Bell 400 win to two earlier runner-up results; he'll be hoping for another good result at a race that's almost on his home country's doorstep.

Meanwhile, consistency has moved defending title holder Kenny Gilbert (Yamaha) into second behind Branch while the earlier overall and OR1 leader, Louwrens Mahoney (KTM) has dropped back to third after gearbox problems in his previous outing - but the vastly experienced Mahoney has the best track record of the three on Kalahari-type races and will be aiming to add another to his resume.

Mahoney is second in OR1 and only six points behind Branch, but a mere three points ahead of Gilbert.

OR3 (200cc) leader, Louw Schmidt (KTM) has moved to fourth place on the overall standings after finishing on the podium at the Bell 400, just ahead of Juan 'Bollie' van Rooyen, who leads the Senior category from former champion Guy Henley (KTM) and defending title-holder Pieter Holl (KTM) thanks to three class wins and good overall results.

Tyron Miller and Yamaha team-mate Jaycee Nienaber are first and second respectively in the OR2 (250cc) category, but eighth and 10th overall.


Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha) has built a comfortable overall and Q1 lead after three wins on the trot victories, but is likely to cone under pressure from second-placed David Hollis (also on a Yamaha), while defending Q2 champion - and Q2 points leader - Justin Robert (Suzuki) has moved into third overall, thanks to his maiden podium finish at the Bell 400.

Baragwanath's team-mate Hannes Saaijman (Yamaha) dropped to fourth after he dropped out of the Bell 400 and has a point to prove at Stella, while Russell Ferreira (Honda) has taken the lead in the Senior Class (and fifth overall) from team-mate, Stuart Freeman (Yamaha), who is eighth overall behind André Park (Yamaha) and André du Plessis (Yamaha).


Quad rider Liezel Barnard (Can-Am) leads the Combined Ladies Championship but second-placed Toni Jardine (KTM), who is also the leading lady on two wheels, could drop back behind 'Tiny Taye' Perry (KTM) as she is competing internationally and will miss the Vryburg Stella 400.

Second-placed quad rider Chardri Monk (Yamaha) is fourth overall, while early leader Maryna Venter (Honda), who missed the previous two races, is back and could provide an upset.

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