SAfrica: Team Shimwells Yamaha Noodsberg preview

The four riders of Team Shimwells Yamaha have the potential to finish in the top ten in the Noodsberg 400, the second round of the SA National Off- road Championship that will take place in the Wartburg area in KwaZulu- Natal on March...

The four riders of Team Shimwells Yamaha have the potential to finish in the top ten in the Noodsberg 400, the second round of the SA National Off- road Championship that will take place in the Wartburg area in KwaZulu- Natal on March 19 and 20.

After a fairly good start to the 2004 off-road season, the 2003 champion, Jade Gutzeit, is currently leading the 250cc Class and third in the overall championship after winning his class at the Skyoil Swazi 400. Gutzeit, the 2003 SA National Enduro Champion, spent even more hours on his Shimwells Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke machine participating in the recent Castrol Winterberg Enduro where he finished a respectable second overall. He is once again leading this championship after winning the first round earlier this season.

His team-mate, Gray Dick, has made one of his best starts to the season - after the opening round last year and the year before, he could only manage a place just inside the top ten. Dick is now second overall and is also second in the Open Class. Because of work commitments, Dick could not participate in any race since Swaziland, but he has trained hard and is confident that a good result will be on the scoreboard next weekend.

He will be on the new 2004 model Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio YZ450F four-stroke. Like Gutzeit, Dick has worn the Number One jersey in the past and would like an early season victory. With the support of some of his other sponsors like No Fear and Yamaha Distributors, he is looking forward to this event in KwaZulu-Natal.

The local riders like Gutzeit who is from Port Shepstone, might, however, have a slight advantage over the other riders, as they are more accustomed to racing between sugarcane and in forests. The Noodsberg 400 is a new race on the off-road calendar and will take place in the Wartburg area, just outside Pietermaritzburg, which is known for sugarcane farming and plantations. It has also rained quite a lot during the last few weeks and the area will be wet.

Another rider with lots of potential, Gavin Louw will be racing the Shimwells Yamaha 250cc four-stroke in the 200cc Class and has proven during the first event that he will be force with which to be reckoned this year when he finished 7th overall and won the 200cc Class. He would like to finish in the top ten again.

Showing real sportsmanship is sometimes the reason for not scoring points and this is the case of the young Zac Botha participating in his first full national off-road season after finishing school last year. Botha experienced a good first event in Swaziland, but stopped to attend to an injured rider and finished 8th in the extremely competitive 125cc Class.

The Noodsberg 400 will get underway at 09h00 with documentation and scrutineering on Friday, March 19, followed by a 60km time trial. On Saturday, March 20, the first national motorcycle rider will tackle the first of two 180km laps while the first national quad rider will start at 09h00.

-tsy-

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Series Offroad