Swazi 400 quads/bikes round one preview

Orion Piggs Peak 400 Promises To Be Exciting Season Opener For Off-Road Bikers The opening round of the 2005 ATV Powersport SA National Off-road Championship for motorcycle and quad competitors, the Orion Piggs Peak 400, that will...

Orion Piggs Peak 400 Promises To Be Exciting Season Opener For Off-Road Bikers

The opening round of the 2005 ATV Powersport SA National Off-road Championship for motorcycle and quad competitors, the Orion Piggs Peak 400, that will take place on February 4th and 5th, 2005 in north-west Swaziland, promises to be a season-opener that will bring back memories to "veteran" motorcycle riders while it will create memories for competitors that will tackle a race in this are for the first time.

Organised by the MS2000 Club with Dinks Pitchford at the helm, the Orion Piggs Peak 400 will be the first event of the national off-road season where various new quad classes (Masters Class, Ladies Class, 30 Plus Class) will be put to the test while it will be the first time that the competitors on four wheels will compete on a national level in this area. According to some of the motorcycle "veterans", the last time they participated in the Piggs Peak area, was in 1987 - 18 years ago - and quads have never participated here in a race before. But it sounds as if the type of terrain did not change much from those years.

Documentation and scrutineering for the Orion Piggs Peak 400 will start already on Thursday (February 3) at the Orion Piggs Peak Hotel and that evening there will be a welcome cocktail party.

On Friday (February 4), documentation and pre-event scrutineering will open again at 09h00 at the hotel and motorcycle and quad riders can start the 60km time-trial at 10h00. The time-trial will determine the starting positions for the main race on Saturday (February 5).

The main race will consist of a 120km and the same 60km time-trial loop that the national championship riders have to complete twice. The central service point (DSP) as well as the loop exchanges will take place at the hotel and as there are only a few places where the riders can be seen from the main road, the Orion Piggs Peak Hotel will definitely be the place to witness all the action from.

The leading national quad rider will start the 120km loop at 08h00 on Saturday morning followed by the shorter 60km loop and then they will do it all over again (non-championship Masters and 30 Plus riders will only do 75% of the race and female competitors in the Ladies Class only half the race).

At 08h30 the motorcycle competitors will tackle the 60km loop followed by the longer 120km loop - a sequence the national competitors (except the Senior Pro competitors - they will stop after their third loop) will have to complete twice.

The race route will almost entirely be in the plantations and the recent rainy conditions caused the black turf to be quite slippery. There will, however, be no river-crossings.

According to Kevern Pelser who participates in the Senior Quad Championship with a Bombardier DS650, but who competed in 1987 in the Piggs Peak area with a motorcycle, they had to learn to read the route. "In those years, the dark patches on the route were wet areas, but because of all the tall trees, the sun never got to the road to dry it and the black areas were even more wet. It was very easy to fall off the road if you did not read it correctly," he said.

Service crews and spectators have to take note that they will not be allowed to follow their teams in the plantations or enter any of the plantations. A rider will be excluded from the race if his team was seen in the plantations. The fuel stop on the 120km loop will also be out of bounds for crews and spectators. All the action as well as the main DSP will be at the Orion Piggs Peak Hotel and it will be interesting to observe how the race has developed after each loop from here.

Interesting information:
Piggs Peak, the small forestry town in the north-west of Swaziland, was named after a French prospector called William Pigg who discovered gold nearby in 1884 where it was mined until the site was exhausted in 1954.

-et-

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