Team Shimwells Yamaha Mafikeng 500 preveiw

Mafikeng 500 Off-Road (6/7 June 2003) 3rd Round of the National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles and 4th round for Quads Team Shimwells Yamaha plans to beat off-roaders again at Mafikeng 500 The Nashua Mobile Racing/Shimwells Yamaha...

Mafikeng 500 Off-Road (6/7 June 2003)
3rd Round of the National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles and 4th round for Quads

Team Shimwells Yamaha plans to beat off-roaders again at Mafikeng 500

The Nashua Mobile Racing/Shimwells Yamaha rider and defending National Off- road Motorcycle Champion, Gray Dick, is confident that he can win the Mafikeng 500, the 3rd round of the National Off-road Motorcycle Championship, and that he can make it two victories in a row.

Dick won the grueling Kalahari 1000 last month after not once being challenged by another competitor - he started first on the first day and after 500km, he was the first rider home. So, he was once again the first rider away on the second day and after another 500km, he was the first motorcycle rider to receive the chequered flag. With his victory - he won this race last year as well - he took an early lead in this competitive championship.

Towards the end of May, he also participated in the AMU Baja race that was held in Zambia and although he experienced some problems - he lost his drinking water and suffered somewhat from dehydration - he achieved an excellent 3rd place overall on his Nashua Mobile Racing/Shimwells Yamaha.

Last year, Dick was in the top three during the Mafikeng 500 event, but experienced gearbox problems and had to settle for a 5th place overall. This year, he is planning on winning and relies on his YZ450F of which he says: "The bike is brilliant. I haven't had a faster bike in years."

He expect some strong competition and one of his main opposition, is his team-mate, Brian Capper, also on a Nashua Mobile Racing/Shimwells Yamaha YZ450F. Capper was leading the Mafikeng 500 last year until about 50km before the finish when he crashed out of the race. Capper, who is well- known for his extreme motorcycle shows country wide, recently also participated in the National MotoCross Championships at the Carousal where he won the first round and came 2nd in the second round of the Support Class.

After the Kalahari 1000 where he fell and had to push his motorcycle for almost an hour in thick sand in a dry riverbed because the fuel leaked out, he still managed to finish in the 12th place overall while also scoring points towards the Open Class Championship when he finished 4th in this class. After a lot of work, he is extremely happy with the handling and the speed of his Nashua Mobile Racing/Shimwells Yamaha YZ450F.

The rest of the Shimwells Yamaha team is looking forward to the Mafikeng 500 off-road - that is except for the young Zac Botha who hurt his shoulder at the Kalahari 1000 and will have to watch the rest of the team participate. In an unexpected move, Tjaart Coetzee has left the team and went to KTM.

In the 125cc Class, Gavin Louw would also like to make it two class victories in a row after beating his closest rival in this class by almost an hour to the finish line at the Kalahari 1000. He is currently lying 2nd in the 125cc Class Championship - a mere three points behind the leading rider.

Another consistent member of the Shimwells Yamaha team, Bernard Johnstone, who races in the 250cc Class on his YZ250 two-stroke, fills the 4th position in his class and is in the top ten on the overall points ladder. He scored valuable points towards the 250cc Class Championship when he was the 6th rider home in this class in Swaziland and 4th in the Kalahari.

Rookie and newcomer to off-road racing, Willie Human, will also race again after not participating in the Kalahari 1000.

In the Senior Championship, the defending champion, Johnny Lockner, hopes to have a much better race at Mafikeng than he had in the Kalahari when he literally had to keep his phone close-by waiting for news about his pregnant wife. He make it home just in time and she gave birth on the Monday just after the race. A 3rd and a 5th place put him currently 3rd in the strongly contended Senior Championship. Last year, this construction businessman from Springs was the second senior home in Mafikeng.

The Mafikeng 500 starts on Friday, June 6, with an exciting Round the Houses section in the streets of Mafikeng where the riders will race for prizemoney. The timetrail, which will determine the starting position for the main race on Saturday, will follow directly afterwards. On Saturday, the race will start at 07h45 when the first motorcycle rider will be on his way followed by the first quad rider at 08h45. Riders will have to complete one loop of approximately 440km.

-tsy-

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