Kalahari 1000 preview

Kalahari 1000 (29 April to 1 May 2004: Vryburg) 3rd Round of the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles and Quads DESERT SAND WILL BE SERIOUS CHALLENGE FOR OFF-ROAD BIKES AND QUADS The Kalahari 1000 off-road, the third round of the...

Kalahari 1000 (29 April to 1 May 2004: Vryburg)
3rd Round of the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles and Quads


The Kalahari 1000 off-road, the third round of the SA National Off-road Championship for motorcycles and quads that will take place in the Vryburg area this weekend, will be 1 000km of gruelling desert conditions for the contenders on their two and four wheelers.

Spearing the attack in the motorcycle category, will be Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio YZ450F) who is the undisputed Kalahari King after winning this event twice already. He is also leading the overall motorcycle championship. After his recent victory at the Noodsberg 400 and a second place at the opening round of the season, Dick is confident and will attempt a hat trick this coming in the Northwest Province.

His main opposition will be from his team-mate and the defending off- road champion, Jade Gutzeit (Shimwells Yamaha YZ250) who would like to add an overall victory to his results so far this season. He is currently third in the overall championship and will approach his competitors as well as the event itself with a different strategy this year. Gutzeit would also go flat-out for a third consecutive 250cc class victory to increase his lead in the 250cc championship.

Chasing hard will be Darryl Curtis (AGA/LG KTM), winner of the opening round of the 2004 season who is tying in the lead of the Open Class with Dick, but he is second in the overall championship, four points behind the leader. Curtis will be racing an all-new KTM300 and would also like to win this desert race in South Africa since he last won this race in 2000 when it was still held in Botswana.

And while the KTM/Yamaha battle will continue in the motorcycle championship, Yamaha will try to keep on winning, especially on the new YFZ450 - this quad won the last three national events since the Roof of Africa last year - while Bombardier will try to make it three victories in a row in the Kalahari. Although a victory has evaded the Bombardier Speed Quad team so far this season, they are leading the overall championship with the off-road champion, Shaun Gunther and Hendrik Potgieter sharing the first place. Both these riders experienced trouble these last two years at the Kalahari 1000 while their team-mate, Cornel de Villiers, won both the previous desert races. De Villiers will unfortunately not be able to participate as he is still suffering from a shoulder injury and his place will be taken by a regular visitor to South Africa, Christoph Kunhl from France.

The big Bombardier Desert Storm 650 quads will be chased by Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport PP Laeger YFZ450) and Jacques Struwig (Southern Yamaha/IGT Africa YFZ450). Both Struwig and Badenhorst, the 2000 off-road champion, experienced bad luck during the last event after they finished first and second respectively at the opening round of the 2004 off-road racing season in Swaziland and will go to the Kalahari 1000 neck-to-neck on the championship ladder. Struwig and Rickey da Silva (Pro Hydraulics Yamaha YFZ450) will also continue their dual after Da Silva won the last event with Struwig chasing him for kilometers in the sugarcane fields until the sprocket on his Southern Yamaha quad broke 20km before the end.

The rest of the Bombardier and Yamaha riders will be at each other's throats and going all out to try to bag a race victory - Charles Jonker (Speed Bike Bombardier); Zane Davidson (Perry Yamaha) for who the desert race will be a new experience seeing that he is competing in his first national off-road racing season and filling the 6th place overall; Stafan Coetzee (VLS Africa) who finished consistently so far this season on the KTM550 powered VLS; Tiaan Reynecke (ATV Powersport/PP Lonestar Yamaha Raptor) who came third overall at the Noodsberg 400 with Michael Trafoyer (Bombardier) and another ATV Powersport rider, Carl Wichmann who will be racing a brand-new Yamaha YFZ450, sharing the ninth position on the overall championship ladder.

In the motorcycle category, a gaggle of KTM and Suzuki riders are making up the top ten on the overall championship with Clayton Enslin (Enzo Chiocchi KTM) in the fourth place overall. Geoffrey Wolhuter (Miller Moore KTM) who finished second in the 2003 championship, is 5th overall followed by two Ramco/Cell C Suzuki riders sharing the 6th place overall - Bernard Johnstone and Hylton Smith. Smith is also leading the 125cc championship. Spencer Kriel (Alfie Cox Adventure KTM) together with Gavin Louw (Shimwells Yamaha) is tying in the 8th place with Louw leading the 200cc championship. Riaan van Niekerk (AGA LG/Tyrolit KTM) rounds of the top ten.

The Kalahari 1000 kicks off on Thursday, 29 April, with documentation and scrutineering at the Excelsior Club outside Vryburg after which the riders must complete a 70km time trial that will determine the starting positions for the first day of the main race on Friday. The first quad rider will tackle the longer 280km loop at 07h30 on Friday while the first motorcycle rider will be off at 08h00 on the shorter 210km loop. At the main service point at the Excelsior Club, the two categories will swop loops and the quads will finish with the shorter loop while the two-wheelers will do the longer loop. On Saturday, the first quad will depart on 07h00 on the 210km loop with the motorcycle riders off at 07h30 on the longer loop.


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Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Riaan van Niekerk