Shimwells Yamaha Tarka 400 preview

Team Nashua Mobile Racing/Shimwells Yamaha is looking forward to the Tarka 400, the 5th round of the National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles that takes place this weekend at Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape. In the Open Class,...

Team Nashua Mobile Racing/Shimwells Yamaha is looking forward to the Tarka 400, the 5th round of the National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles that takes place this weekend at Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape.

In the Open Class, the defending Off-road Motorcycle Champion, Gray Dick, will be on his own while his team-mate, Brian Capper, is recuperating after three operations. Capper crashed into Dick at the previous race and broke the scaphoid in his left wrist. During an operation a screw was put in and he decided that it was a good time to have an operation on his right wrist that never healed properly after the same injury last year. For this they used bone from his hip and a screw. But there is more - he also injured his right ankle last season and had another operation. Motorcycle riders are tough, but Capper decided not to enter - he will be out for at least seven weeks and will definitely miss the next two races.

Dick is currently leading the Open Class Championship - he is nine points ahead of Darryl Curtis - and is lying 3rd in the overall championship, only six points behind the leader (Andrew Ogden) and three points behind Geoffrey Wolhuter in second position. Dick, who would like to defend his title successfully and would like to better his result in the Eastern Cape (last year he finished 9th overall), is still not too worried about the championship, but would like to add another race victory behind his name. Earlier this season he won the Kalahari 1000 from start to finish.

The 250cc Class is the most popular this season and also the most competitive and Shimwells Yamaha is well represented here. After a very consistent season, Bernard Johnstone is filling the 5th position in this class and only nine points separate the riders in the 3rd (Clayton Enslin), 4th (Wayne Farmer) and 5th positions. Johnstone hopes to move up a position or two after the Tarka 400 event and better his 2002 result when he finished 19th overall.

Racing in the 200cc Class with his 250cc four-stroke Shimwells Yamaha, is the scholar, Zac Botha, who was injured earlier this season, but finished the last race 7th in his class and is confident for another good result. His teammate in this class from the forthcoming event, is Juan van Rooyen who has been racing Yamaha the whole season. Van Rooyen is currently lying 5th overall in the 200cc championship.

Gavin Louw has been on the 125cc podium three times this season - he won the class twice and finished 2nd behind the current class leader, Hylton Smith, and is currently only three points behind Smith. This battle has been raging through the season and Louw would like to take the class lead again after losing it at the Hluhluwe Queen Pineapple Off-road Spectacular.

In the Senior Championship, there is a good chance that the defending champion, Johnny Lochner, who is lying 3rd in this championship, can defend his title successfully after Tom Claasen crashed during the previous race and would not be racing again soon. Claasen was only two points ahead of Lochner with the leader, Wouter Mol, eight points ahead of the Shimwells Yamaha rider.

The Tarka 400 starts on Friday at the Tarkastad showgrounds with the time-trail and the main race starts at 08h00 on Saturday. It will consist of two loops and the motorcycle riders will start on a different loop than the quad riders.

-syt-

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Series Offroad