Caledon 400 preview

One thing is certain - the Caledon 400, the 6th round of the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles that will take place in the Tweespruit area on September 24 and 25, will be a Battle of the Bikes as the two leading...

One thing is certain - the Caledon 400, the 6th round of the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles that will take place in the Tweespruit area on September 24 and 25, will be a Battle of the Bikes as the two leading riders will put their friendship aside for the weekend to fight it out for overall honours.

The Overall and Open Class championship leader, Darryl Curtis (AGA LG KTM) has so far won three races this season and is leading the 2002 Champion, Gray Dick (Shimwells/Panasonic Car Audio Yamaha) by 18 points. Dick has two victories behind his name, but could not manage to score points at the last event and would like to make up for that by scoring back-to-back wins on the Caledon 400. Curtis, however, is determined to win his first overall off-road championship while former champion, Dick, would like to prove that he can do it again.

The rest of the field do not really have a chance of catching them and will fight for the remaining place on the podium, which is presently occupied by Geoffrey Wolhuter (Miller/Moore KTM) who is also leading the 250cc Class Championship. Although Wolhuter does not stand a chance of winning the overall championship, he can win the 250cc Championship for the second consecutive year, but is being chased hard by Clayton Enslin (Enzo Chiocchi KTM); Spencer Kriel (Alfie Cox Adventures/Natro Freight KTM) and the 2003 champion, Jade Gutzeit (Shimwells Yamaha). Only two points separate each of these riders from one another.

Enslin injured vertebrae in his spine and will not be able to compete until the end of the season, so this will be the ideal opportunity for Kriel and Gutzeit, who have both finished on the podium twice, to move up the points ladder. It's likely that the seven points' difference between Gutzeit (6th overall) and Wolhuter (3rd overall) can change during the Free State outing.

The ever-consistent Bernard Johnstone (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) is seventh in the overall championship followed by Gavin Louw (Shimwells Yamaha) who is leading the 200cc Class on the 250cc two-stroke Yamaha. Louw has scored points on each event this season and has the 200cc Class Championship pretty much wrapped up, but he will be hunted down by Riaan van Niekerk (Tyrolit KTM) who won the class twice this year and is currently in the 13th place overall.

Wayne Farmer (The Roost KTM) can improve his fourth place in the 250cc Class as well as his ninth position in the overall championship while his teammate, Alex Vowles, has the experience and potential to finish among the front-runners. Vowles is currently in the 10th place overall.

Only two points separate the three riders just outside the top ten with the 125cc leader, Hylton Smith (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) and the newly crowned National Enduro Champion, Louwrens Mahoney (Enzo Chiocchi KTM) as well as Van Niekerk knocking on the top ten door.

In the Open Class, Carel le Roux (Miller/Moore KTM), who is third in the class, might just take some points away from Curtis and Dick while the battle in the 250cc Class will be extremely tough. Each rider is within easy reach of the next one and Wolhuter, Kriel, Farmer, Johnstone and Gutzeit will be racing while looking over their shoulders. Local rider, Wade Blaauw (Salley's Yamaha) is seventh in the class championship and will no doubt use his knowledge of the terrain to improve his championship position.

Louw and Van Niekerk each have two class victories behind their names and will be at each other's throats in the 200cc Class battle while Smith, Mahoney, Bryce Adams (JCI Resources/Russell Campbell Kawasaki) and Brandon Els (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) will be strutting their stuff in the extremely competitive 125cc Class.

In the Senior Championship, Glenn McDonald (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) and Kobie van Breda (The Roost KTM) are leading the pack of riders older than 38 years with McDonald winning this class four times in five starts this season.

Local riders to watch out for are the veteran, Graham Maclachlan (Salley's Yamaha) as well as Stefan van Pletzen (Griffiths Motorsport/Motoworld Gas Gas).

The venue for the Caledon 400 moved from Dewetsdorp to Tweespruit where a successful regional race was held earlier this year. The event gets underway with a 50km time trial at 10h00 on Friday, September 24, to determine the starting order for the main event, which comprises a 200km figure of eight route that competitors have to complete twice. The first motorcycle rider will start the event at 08h00 on Saturday.

-www.caledon400.co.za

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Darryl Curtis