Kalahari 1000 preview

3rd Round of the ATV Powersport ITP National off-road championship for motorbikes and the 4th round for quads 28 - 30 April 2005 . Gray Dick wants to stay King of the Kalahari . Quad championship-leader wants to win Kalahari for first time .

3rd Round of the ATV Powersport ITP National off-road championship for motorbikes and the 4th round for quads
28 - 30 April 2005

. Gray Dick wants to stay King of the Kalahari
. Quad championship-leader wants to win Kalahari for first time
. Outsiders can walk away with surprise-victories


It is time for the off-road motorbike and quad competitors to put their desert racing skills to the test when they will participate in the Kalahari 1000, the third round of the ATV Powersport ITP national off-road championship for bikers and the fourth for quad-riders. The Kalahari 1000, taking place from April 28 to 30 in the Vryburg area, is one of only two events on the off-road calendar that consists of one thousand kilometers over three days.

Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio) is undoubtedly the King of the Kalahari after winning it for three consecutive years. But while Dick plans to win again this year and strengthen his second position in the overall championship, the current champion, Darryl Curtis (KTM SA Racing) is planning to dethrone him of this title by winning his first race of the season. And while these big guns in the Open Class are fighting it out for the overall laurels, the 250cc riders will hope that they can also win although their motorbikes are not as fast, but more nimble through the thorntrees.

Clayton Enslin (EPH/Shimwells Yamaha) won the opening round of the season and finished third after that. He is still leading the championship and would like to win this race on his 250cc two-stroke bike. Geoffrey Wolhuter (Sadiba/Russell Campbell Kawasaki) would like to repeat his recent race- victory in KZN, but they will have to be very cautious as the 2003 off-road and enduro-champ, Jade Gutzeit (Shimwells Yamaha) is back after a serious knee-injury. Gutzeit won the Castrol Winterberg Enduro earlier this month.

In the quad category, some "outsiders" stand as good a chance to win the Kalahari 1000 as the championship leaders or previous winners of this gruelling event. Cornel de Villiers (Bombardier Speed Quad) knows everything about "gruelling" and the Kalahari Desert might remind him of the desert-conditions of the 2004 Dakar Rally which he won. In 2002 and 2003 he was victorious in the Kalahari and after winning the recent Mini Roof in Lesotho, it seems as if De Villiers is back and, once again, a force to be reckoned with.

But after winning the first two events of the 2005 season, Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport Lonestar 450) is leading the national quad championship overall and although he could not finish the wet Mini Roof, he has proven that he has the equipment, stamina and ability to win. He will be backed by his team-mates, Zane Davidson and Ricky da Silva, who would like to finish this event as they could not do so last year.

Like the ATV Powersport team, the strong Bombardier Speed Quad Team will stick together and they would also like to conquer the desert like they conquered the rivers in Lesotho - by filling all the steps on the podium. The 2004 champion, Hendrik Potgieter, is consistent and he would like to add another victory to his Caledon 400 victory last year. Carl Wichmann won this event last year while racing for a different manufacturer and will be confident to do so again this year.

Off-road two-wheelers that might spring a surprise-victory on the rest or finish quite high-up on the overall standings, is the current 200cc- champion, Gavin Louw (Shimwells Yamaha), who won this class once this year with his 250cc four-stroke Yamaha. He stands the same chance as his team- mate, Jade Gutzeit, this year also on a 250cc four-stroker and competing in the 200cc Class as well as Riaan van Niekerk (KTM SA Racing) with whom he is sharing the lead in this class. A few 250cc riders to watch out for, is Louwrens Mahoney (KTM SA Racing) who experienced some bad luck last year, but managed to finish 10th overall while still participating on a 125cc KTM; Bernard Johnstone (Ramco Suzuki) and his team-mate, Hylton Smith. Kenneth Gilbert (EPH/Shimwells Yamaha) is leading the 125cc Class and can again finish in the top 15. Brian Bontekoning (KTM SA Racing) is the leader in the Senior Championship.

The outsiders in the national quad category with a chance to win include Jacques Struwig (Southern ATV 450) who was leading this race last year after the first two days, but experienced some problems during the last day and finished sixth overall. He would like to finish his hard work last year and earn some valuable points towards the 2005 season. Tiaan Reynecke (EMD Racing Yamaha Raptor) is suffering from mechanical trouble this year, but has proven that he can win races and so does Charles Jonker (Speed Bike Bombardier) who finished the Kalahari 1000 last year in the second position. Kiri Oberholzer (Polaris SA Racing Predator), Chris Jarvis (Wilrogate Yamaha YFZ450) and Dallie Terblanche (CIT Honda) are all scoring points consistently this season and can take points away from the top scorers. Some Senior Championship-riders like the class leader, Christo van der Merwe (Bombardier Speed Quad Nelspruit) and Hennie Michau (Bombardier) who is second in the Senior Championship, are making a habit of finishing in the top ten this season and Michau finished this race last year on the podium. And if the VLS of Stefan Coetzee (Quadworx) lasts, he might just finish his first race of the season and even score a podium position.

The Kalahari 1000 will start on Thursday, 28 April, at the Excelsior Club 50km outside of Vryburg with a 65km time-trail that will determine the starting-order and starting-times for the first day of the main race on Friday, 29 April. The quads will start the main race first and tackle the first of two 250km loops at 7h30 while the two-wheelers will be off at 8h00. On Saturday the surviving quads will take-on one of the loops of the previous day at 7h00 followed by a new Eastern Loop while the bikers will follow at 7h30.


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Series Other rally
Drivers Darryl Curtis , Riaan van Niekerk