Shimwells Yamaha Mafikeng preview

Shimwells Yamaha ready for Mafikeng 500 Team Shimwells Yamaha is ready to increase their overall lead in the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles this coming weekend (4 and 5 June 2004) at the Mafikeng 500, the fourth round...

Shimwells Yamaha ready for Mafikeng 500

Team Shimwells Yamaha is ready to increase their overall lead in the SA National Off-road Championship for Motorcycles this coming weekend (4 and 5 June 2004) at the Mafikeng 500, the fourth round of the championship that will take place at Mafikeng in the Northwest Province.

The 2002 champion, Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio) is currently leading the motorcycle championship after winning two races (Noodsberg 400 and the Kalahari 1000) this season and finishing second at the opening round (Skyoil Swazi 400). Dick has been training hard although his business commitments kept him from participating in any regional or club events. Just after the Kalahari 1000, he did, however, participate in a mountain bike race in the Howick area, but although this served as some good exercise, it was a nightmare for him and he met with Mother Earth quite a few times. Luckily he was not injured. Dick is also leading the Open Class.

His team-mate and the current national off-road and enduro champion, Jade Gutzeit, will be back and on a serious charge and would also like to win the Mafikeng 500. Neither Dick nor Gutzeit has won this race in the past - last year this was the only race Gutzeit did not finish and he would try his utmost to change the score this year. A few weeks ago, he participated in the Newcastle Inter-Provincial Harescramble and Enduro at Springfield Park in Durban, a race most of the national championship riders used as a practice run seeing that the national event will take place there soon. But although this race was just a practice session for Gutzeit, he won the harescramble on his Shimwells Yamaha 250cc four-stroke bike. He will, however, participate in the Mafikeng 500 with the 250cc two-stroke machine with which he scored a third (Skyoil Swazi 400) and second (Noodsberg 400) place overall while winning the 250cc Class at both races. He will go to the Northwest Province as the runner-up in the 250cc - four points behind the leader, Clayton Enslin - and fourth in the overall championship.

Another Shimwells Yamaha rider is leading the 200cc Class - Gavin Louw won this class already twice this year on the 250cc Shimwells Yamaha four- stroke and is leading his closest rival by 13 points. He also managed to finish between the front-runners and is lying in an excellent sixth place on the overall championship points ladder.

The young Zac Botha finished two races this season in the 125cc Class and although not a contender for this class championship, he is gaining experience in his first full national off-road racing season. He also participates in Super Motard events and racing on gravel as well as on tar in the same race, might just give him the edge over the competition in the Round the Houses section with which the Mafikeng 500 will kick-off on Friday, 4 June 2004.

It will also be the first event this season for the 2002 Senior Pro Champion, Johnny Lochner, who broke his arm at the penultimate event last year. Lochner is not in contention for the Senior Pro Championship, but can cause a shake-up in this championship where riders only do 75% of the total route and he can easily walk away with points in the bag and trophies under the arm.

The Mafikeng 500 will start on Friday, 4 June, at 08h00 with documentation and scrutineering and at 11h45, the riders will leave for the Round the Houses section which will start at Game Centre in town. They have to complete four laps of 3km each in the streets of Mafikeng and the result of this section, will determine the starting order for the time trial that will commence at 14h30. The time trial of 40km will determine the starting order for the main race on Saturday, 5 June 2004 and the leading motorcycle rider will start the first of two 250km laps at 07h45.

-sy-

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