Roof of Africa season finale preview

Last Round of the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycle and Quad Competitors Several Championships Will Be Decided in Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho The Vodacom Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa, the last round of the SA National Off-road...

Last Round of the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycle and Quad Competitors

Several Championships Will Be Decided in Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho

The Vodacom Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa, the last round of the SA National Off-road Championship for motorcycle and quad competitors that will take place from November 24 to 27 in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, will be the decider for various motorcycle and quad class championships as well as for the overall quad championship.

In the motorcycle category, Darryl Curtis (AGA LG KTM), who won this event in 1996, already bagged his first ever overall off-road championship at the last event, but if he wants to win, he can be expecting stiff competition from Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio), who has secured the second position behind him in the overall and Open Class championships. Dick has never won the Roof of Africa and has been training hard while he also claims to have a "Secret Weapon". For him, winning the Roof of Africa has the same prestige than winning the championship and seeing that he could not achieve it this season, he has changed his tactics and is planning on winning his first Roof of Africa title.

Unfortunately his team-mate and the winner of this event last year, Jade Gutzeit, will not be able to race as he has torn the ligaments behind his right knee while practicing. Gutzeit is almost safe in the third position overall - Geoffrey Wolhuter (Miller Moore KTM), who is fourth overall, has to win the race overall to beat Gutzeit to the last place on the podium.

Only Curtis (three victories), Dick (three victories) and Gutzeit (one victory) won races overall this season, but other riders who can upset the applecart, is the brothers, Spencer and Barry Kriel (Alfie Cox Adventures/Natro Freight KTM) - both have been on the podium this season as well as at the front of the starting grid. Spencer is also leading the 250cc Class with the defending class champion, Wolhuter, third and in a good position to retain his title. The consistent Bernard Johnstone (Ramco Cell C Suzuki) is sixth overall and also within reach of the 250cc Class title.

All the pressure will be on Gavin Louw (Shimwells Yamaha) who is leading the 200cc Class as he will be chased hard by Riaan van Niekerk (Tyrolit KTM) who is only three points behind him in the overall championship and 10 points behind in the class championship. Both riders have not won an event overall this season, but stand an outside chance of winning the Vodacom Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa.

Louwrens Mahoney (AGA LG KTM) is leading the 125cc Class and has won the National Enduro Championship earlier this year. He would like to better his 10th place overall and will try to catch up with the class leader, Hylton Smith (Ramco Cell C Suzuki) - only 12 points separate these two riders and any one of them can win the 2004 125cc Class Championship.

Kobie van Breda (The Roost KTM) has already won the Senior Pro Championship.

National Quad Championship:

In the overall quad championship, the Fat Lady is getting ready to sing for Hendrik Potgieter (Bombardier Speed Quad), the only quad rider who finished all the events this season and who won the Caledon 400. If he however fails to finish and Stefan Coetzee (VLS Africa), who is second overall, wins, they will have the same amount of points and Coetzee will walk away with the championship as he has the most victories (two) behind his name.

Zane Davidson (Perry Yamaha YFZ450) will be competing in his first real Roof of Africa - he won the Novice Class (half the race) last year and hopes to keep his third place in the overall championship. He will be under a lot of pressure from the Dakar and two times Roof of Africa winner (2001 and 2002), Cornel de Villiers (Bombardier Speed Quad) who is trailing him by 10 points. Although De Villiers has not won an event this season, he is in a strong position to score another victory and can still finish second in the 2004 championship. If he wins the race overall and Coetzee does not finish, De Villiers will take the second place on the overall podium.

The defending champion, Shaun Gunther, also from the Bombardier Speed Quad squad, is currently fifth overall and has never won the Roof of Africa. He would like to end the year on a high note by scoring a good result and is also eyeing a place on the championship podium. Jacques "Boesman" Struwig (Southern Yamaha YFZ450) won this event last year and although he experienced some bad luck this season, he would like to walk away with back- to-back Roof of Africa victories. Depending on the performances of Davidson, De Villiers and Gunther, Struwig can still finish the 2004 season in third place overall.

Ricky da Silva (Yamaha) and Carl Wichmann (Ramco Cell C Suzuki) is tying for the seventh place and they are only four points ahead of the Vilagama 400 and KZN Regional Off-road Championship winner, Tiaan Reynecke (EMD Racing Yamaha Raptor) with Charles Jonker (Speed Bike Bombardier) five points behind Reynecke.

Jonker won the Mini Roof of Africa for quads last year and had a healthy lead at the 2003 Roof of Africa until he crashed when the grip came off his big Bombardier DS650. He had a bad spate of bad luck this season, but stands a chance to win on his Bombardier now fitted with a strong 692cc engine and lots of low-down torque and would like to move up on the overall points' ladder.

The leading rider in the Senior Championship, Hennie Michau (Bombardier) rounds off the top ten followed by Christo van der Merwe (Yamaha Support Team YFZ450) who is 11th overall and second in the Senior Quad Championship. Other riders with an outside chance of winning is Dallie Terblanche (although he is not certain with which quad he will tackle the mountains) and Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport Laeger Yamaha YFZ450) who has not finished the last five events, but who is always a threat because of his speed.

The Vodacom Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa starts on Wednesday, November 24, with documentation and scrutineering at the Lesotho Sun in Maseru. The traditional Round the Houses, a 3,6km route in the streets of Maseru that the riders have to complete three times, will kick-off at 09h00 the next morning where after the riders will depart immediately to the start of the 70km time trial at Lancer's Gap.

On Friday, November 26, the first motorcycle competitor will be departing at 06h00 on a 386km loop while the first national quad rider will start at 06h45 on a 410km route and on Saturday, the surviving riders will be starting at the same times at Matsieng which will also serve as the finishing point.

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Darryl Curtis