Vilagama 400, round seven preview

Vilagama 400 (22-23 October 2004) 7th Round of SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles and Quads Titles Still Up For Grabs in Off-Road Motorcycle Championships There are only two rounds of the SA National Off-road ...

Vilagama 400 (22-23 October 2004)
7th Round of SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles and Quads

Titles Still Up For Grabs in Off-Road Motorcycle Championships

There are only two rounds of the SA National Off-road Championship for motorcycle and quad riders still to go - the last one is the unpredictable Vodacom/Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa while the penultimate event will take place in the Naboomspruit area this weekend.

It is the first time that a national off-road event will be held in this area and it is expected that the Vilagama 400, named after this private game lodge in the Waterberg with its various quad routes, will be a technical event where lots of sand and possible rain will play a huge role in the final results.

The leaders in both the overall motorcycle and quad championships have a comfortable lead in the points log, but the Fat Lady has not yet sang for either one of Darryl Curtis (AGA/LG KTM) or Hendrik Potgieter (Bombardier Speed Quad) and anything can still happen.

Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio), who is second, would like to score his third victory of the season and would like to move closer to Curtis on the championship ladder while his team-mate, Jade Gutzeit, also stands a chance to finish on the final title podium.

Gutzeit, the defending champion, is currently third in the overall championship and can not win it anymore, but a technical race like the Vilagama 400 in the Bushveld will suit him and his 250cc Shimwells Yamaha two-stroke motorcycle perfectly and he would like to taste champagne again after his recent Caledon 400 victory while a good result will also better his standing in the 250cc Class championship. Geoffrey Wolhuter (Miller/Moore KTM), like Gutzeit also from KZN, is leading Gutzeit with 16 points in the 250cc Class, but is six points behind the champion in the overall standings.

Only four points separate the riders in the fifth, sixth and seventh positions - Bernard Johnstone (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki 250cc) is only two points ahead of Clayton Enslin (Enzo Chiocchi KTM 250cc) although Enslin would not be able to score more points this season as he is still recovering from a spine injury. Spencer Kriel (Alfie Cox Adventures/Natro Freight KTM 250cc) is only two points behind Enslin in the overall standings.

Gavin Louw (Shimwells Yamaha) will tackle the race in the eighth place overall while he is leading the 200cc Class with his 250cc four-stroke Yamaha; Hylton Smith (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) is only one point behind him, but leading the 125cc Class championship and Riaan van Niekerk (Tyrolit KTM) rounds off the top ten while he is five points behind Louw in the 200cc Class championship.

Potgieter is leading Stefan Coetzee (VLS Africa) from Pietersburg by 16 point in the quad category although Coetzee has two race victories comparing to Potgieter's one. Only 10 points separate the next five riders of which three scored race victories earlier this season - Zane Davidson (Perry Yamaha YFZ450) would like to score a victory in his debut national off-road season; Jacques "Boesman" Struwig (Southern Yamaha YFZ450) won the opening round of the season and could not score points at two events; Carl Wichmann (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) won the gruelling Kalahari 1000 and changed quads, but he will unfortunately not be competing in the race in the Bushveld. Wichmann has the same amount of points than the Noodsberg 400 winner, Ricky da Silva (Yamaha). The defending champion, Shaun Gunther (Bombardier Speed Quad) will be hoping to give Lady Luck a lift at the Naboomspruit race so that he can score his first victory of the season.

Two more Bombardier riders, Cornel de Villiers (Speed Quad) and Charles Jonker (Speed Bike) are respectively eighth and ninth and only two points separate them while both of them are capable of winning this event overall. The type of terrain will be familiar to the first Senior Championship rider, Hennie Michau (Bombardier) who is currently 10th overall, as he is a farmer outside the nearby town of Tuinplaas.

There are also riders who can not win the championship, but can cause a stir if they win the race overall and Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport Laeger Yamaha) and Tiaan Reynecke (Yamaha Raptor) are such riders.

The Vilagama 400 will start at 09h00 on Friday, October 22, at the Capensis Farm (13km outside Rondalia Die Oog) with documentation after which the riders have to complete a 55km time trial that will determine the starting grid for the 346km main race on Saturday, October 23.

The first quad will tackle the 119km loop on Saturday at 08h00 at the Capensis Farm while the first motorcycle rider will be off on the 55km loop at 08h30. National championship competitors will have to complete both loops twice and the winners are expected at 13h30 at the finish.

-et-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Darryl Curtis