It was a small, but dynamite-packaged and eventually victorious Team Shimwells Yamaha that showed the rest of the off-road motorcycle fraternity how to win at the recent Caledon 400, the 6th round of the National Off- road Championship for Motorcycles that was held in the Dewetsdorp area.
The 2002 National Off-road Motorcycle Champion, Gray Dick, also in the colours of Nashua Mobile, won the Caledon 400 last year and he did so again this year when he beat his closest rival (Jade Gutzeit) by 6 min 04 sec.
Dick, who started this race in the second position - only 22 sec behind Barry Kriel - took the lead just after the first refuel when Kriel had to stop for fuel and Dick's bigger Yamaha YZ450F four-stroke did not need any fuel yet.. He then had a clean and open road ahead with the dust proving to be quite a problem for those riders who are too close behind the competitor ahead of him.
With his Open Class motorcycle experiencing not a single problem, Dick took the overall laurels and moved up the Overall Championship ladder. After this race and with two more off-road events to go - including the gruelling Roof of Africa - Dick is now 3rd in the overall championship, only three points behind Andrew Ogden while a mere four points separate him from the two riders (Geoffrey Wolhuter and Jade Gutzeit) who is sharing the number one spot.
It was not only Dick who did the Shimwells Yamaha Team proud - in the 125cc Class, Gavin Louw took his third class victory of the season after beating Louwrens Mahoney by 25 seconds. Louw, who was the 14th rider to start the Caledon 400 and the 2nd rider in the 125cc Class, was chasing Mahoney and took the lead when he fell just before the finish. Not only was his class win an achievement, but the young Louw also finished in an excellent 6th place overall and kicked some dust in the eyes of those riders on much bigger motorcycles and with much more experience.
Juan van Rooyen participating in the 200cc Class was leading this class quite comfortably, but had to settle for the second position eventually - his best for the season - when Wynand van der Linde took the class victory only 37 seconds ahead of the young rider from Ermelo. Van Rooyen had a trouble-free race on his Yamaha 250cc four-stroke and has proven that he can race with the best - he finished 17th overall.
In the Senior Championship, the 2002 champion and Shimwells Yamaha rider, Johnny Lochner, was having a good race, but then he crashed and was unconscious for a while. When he regained consciousness, he decided to give it another try and finished 4th in this competitive championship - only 9 minutes behind the winner (Glen McDonald). It was his aim to move much closer to the Senior Championship leader (Tom Classen) and he is a bit disappointed with this result, but believes that he can still defend his title successfully.
It was a small Shimwells Yamaha Team that went to the Caledon 400 - Bernard Johnstone injured his ankle and Zac Botha is busy with exams - but they proved to be the best and with only two races to go, Dick, Louw and Lochner are still in a position to win their class championships while Dick stands a good chance to keep his title.
The penultimate race on the 2003 National Off-road calendar is the Carousal 400 on October 24 and 25, 2003.