Shimwells Yamaha Teams Cleaned-up at Orion Piggs Peak 400 Off-Road in Swaziland The Orion Piggs Peak 400, the opening round of the ATV Powersport ITP motorcycle and quad national off-road racing championship, proved to be a good ...
Shimwells Yamaha Teams Cleaned-up at Orion Piggs Peak 400 Off-Road in Swaziland
The Orion Piggs Peak 400, the opening round of the ATV Powersport ITP motorcycle and quad national off-road racing championship, proved to be a good season-opener for Team Shimwells Yamaha and Team EPH Shimwells Yamaha as they walked away as the winners of the overall motorcycle category and collected awards for three class-victories.
Clayton Enslin of the EPH Shimwells Yamaha Team won the Orion Piggs Peak 400 overall as well as the extremely competitive 250cc Class. Enslin, who last raced a Yamaha in 2001 when he won seven of the eight rounds of the national off-road championship, lead the national motorcycle category from start to finish. He started eight seconds ahead of the 2004 champion, Darryl Curtis (KTM) after the 54km time-trial and after a serious battle with Curtis on the slippery route that consisted of a 120km and a 54km loop they had to complete twice, he won his first event back on the seat of a Yamaha.
Except for dust during the time-trial, Enslin did not experience any problems during the race and described the event and his motorcycle as "awesome". "It's great to be back," a beaming Enslin commented after the race.
His team-mates, Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio) and Gavin Louw (Shimwells Yamaha) finished third and fourth respectively while Louw also won the 200cc Class on his 250cc four-stroke Yamaha. Louw, the 2004 class-winner, started in an excellent third place overall - nine seconds ahead of Dick in fourth place - and was at one stage second overall behind Enslin. A crash on the slippery route, however, caused Dick and Curtis to pass him again, but he fought back and scored one of his best results in his national off-road racing career.
Dick, who finished the 2004 Swaziland event in the second place behind Curtis, lost some time during the time-trial due to handling difficulties on the big YZ450F, but after some changes, he had a problem-free race although he does not really like the type of route. "It's too twisty and does not suit my riding style, but I did my best and a third place is a good start to the season," Dick said afterwards.
The young Kenneth Gilbert (Wasa/EPH Shimwells Yamaha) won the 125cc Class and finished in the 12th place overall after he started his race in the 10th place, but riders with more powerful motorbikes chased him during the race. The young Scotsman was only 1 min 03 sec slower than the 250cc Kawasaki-rider, Andrew Ogden, ahead of him while he finished nail-bitingly close to the Suzuki-rider, Hendrik Kraaij, in 13th place - only one second put him ahead of Kraaij.
A story of true sportsmanship and team-work saw Shannon Frost and Kyle Poppleton, both in the 125cc Class and from the EPH Shimwells Yamaha Team, finishing the race in 74th and 75th place overall. Poppleton had a good start to the race when he pulled-off in 22nd position while Frost was the 39th rider away.
But Poppleton had a huge crash and were suffering from a light concussion. This is when his team-mate (Frost) decided to stick with him to the end and he supported him all the way to the finish-line. Although they did not score any points in the overall or 125cc Class championships, they showed that there is still some real camaraderie in the off-road fraternity.
Johnny Lochner (Shimwells Yamaha) has almost recovered from his 2003 injuries and was the 10th Senior Pro competitor home in his first event after he had a huge crash at the end of the 2003 season.
Team Shimwells Yamaha and EPH Shimwells Yamaha's first, third and fourth places overall secured Yamaha the manufacturer's trophy.
Jade Gutzeit (Shimwells Yamaha) did not participate as he is still suffering from a leg injury. The new dad and 2003 champion might probably be ready for action at the Noodsberg 400, the second round of the championship that will take place from 4 to 5 March 2005 in KZN.