The Autopage Cellular Yamaha team is preparing for one of local circuit racing’s toughest tests in the Eastern Cape next Saturday (May 24). The occasions will be Rounds 7 and 8 of this year’s South African Superbike Championship, to be held on the historical East London Grand Prix circuit. -

- The venue- generally regarded as this country’s most demanding - will see the continuation of a titanic fight for South Africa’;s premier two-wheeler title. Following the first six rounds of the Championship, First Technology Yamaha rider Shaun Whyte tops the scoreboard with 91 points to his name. Second, three points adrift, is defending South African Champion and Autopage Cellular Yamaha team leader Russell Wood. With a possible 40 points up for grabs during the two East London races, Wood is more than determined to emerge from the meeting as the 2003 title leader. -

- He will be assisted in his quest by Autopage Cellular teammate Greg Dreyer. Following a wobbly start to the season, when a series of crashes left him with various leg injuries, Dreyer has put the five-week gap since the previous meeting of the year to good use. The multiple former national Champion spent most of the time training, and should be fully race-fit by next weekend. -

- Meanwhile, the Autopage Cellular technicians have also been hard at work, optimising the suspension setups of their Yamaha R6 motorcycles. -

- “The East London circuit is mostly about horsepower - in which department our Yamahas, those of the First Technology team and the works Suzukis are just about equal,” said Russell Wood this week. -

- “However, to be quick around East London, you have to go flat out through its notorious, 220 km/h Potters Pass corner, plus its just plain scary, 255 km/h Rifle Range sweep. Then, you have to make the motorcycle behave through a tight and tricky infield, where power means nothing without control. It is a challenge that the top riders relish, making the venue a favourite one for both Greg and myself.” -

- “Our problem is that South African Superbike racing currently boasts at least seven world-class riders - and five of them are not on Autopage Cellular Yamahas,” Wood added. -

- “On the other hand, winning South African motorcycle racing titles is SUPPOSED to be difficult and dangerous - if it were easy, no good riders would do it, and the public would not watch it,” he said. -

- Rounding out the Autopage Cellular Yamaha equipe at East London will be former Jet Ski Champion Charles Grassie. Fighting in the dense, dangerous mid-field, the youngster has scored a tenth, and eighth place thus far this season. -

- “In the company of this country’s top racers, that was no easy feat. Charles learns all the time, adding consistency to his natural speed. By the end of the season I fully expect him to be looking at Top Six finishes,” Russell Wood said.