While the off-road racing action at the Caledon 400, the 6th round of the SA National Off-road Championship for motorcycles and quads that will take place at Tweespruit in the Free State on September 24 and 25, will be extremely hot, the weather bureau predicts icy cold conditions for the weekend.
Tweespruit, 88km south-east of Bloemfontein, will play host for the first time to the popular Caledon 400 and the route, which is in the form of a figure of eight , will take competitors over four mountains and through awesome scenery, but they will not have time to appreciate the scenery as they will not only have to fight against the cold, but also for positions in the overall and different class championships.
Based on previous performances, the overall honours in the motorcycle category should either go to Darryl Curtis (AGA/LG KTM) or Gray Dick (Shimwells Yamaha/Panasonic Car Audio) as they are the only two riders who have won races this season. Curtis is leading the championship with three victories to Dick’s two and 18 points separate these two riders.
In the quad championship four different riders have scored overall victories this season while the championship leading quad rider, Hendrik Potgieter (Bombardier Speed Quad) would like to become part of that group as he has not won a race this year. Only Potgieter and Stefan Coetzee (VLS Africa) who is in second position, have scored points each event and Coetzee has won the last two events on the VLS quad fitted with a 550cc KTM engine imported from Holland. Jacques Struwig (Southern Yamaha) could only manage to win the opening round of the season while Carl Wichmann (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) won the Kalahari 1000, but did not score points on the next two events. Only nine points separate the first four quad riders while a mere two points separate the next three – newcomer, Zane Davidson (Perry Yamaha); the defending champion, Shaun Gunther (Bombardier Speed Quad) and the winner of the Noodsberg 400, Ricky da Silva (Yamaha Banshee). The Caledon 400 victory could go to anyone of the leading riders as well as to outsiders like the extremely quick Brendan Badenhorst (ATV Powersport Yamaha) or Dallie Terblanche (Salley’s Yamaha) who are way down on the point’s ladder.
And while both Curtis and Dick will be fighting for the overall victory, the rest of the pack will be chasing Geoffrey Wolhuter (Miller/Moore KTM) currently in the third place and leading the 250cc Class. Closest to him in the championship hunt is Clayton Enslin (Enzo Chiocchi KTM) who will not be racing because of a vertebrae injury, which will help Spencer Kriel (Alfie Cox Adventures/Natro Freight KTM) and the current champion, Jade Gutzeit (Shimwells Yamaha) to move up the overall and 250 Class championship point’s ladders.
Bernard Johnstone (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) is a bit further behind and only one point ahead of Gavin Louw (Shimwells Yamaha) who is leading the 200cc Class. And with only one point separating them in the overall championship, the fight between the two leading 125cc riders, Hylton Smith (Ramco/Cell C Suzuki) and the newly crowned Enduro Champion, Louwrens Mahoney (Enzo Chiocchi KTM) will be red hot. Smith is on his way to his second consecutive 125cc Class Championship, but the 14 points separating him from Mahoney in the Class Championship, can shrink if he is not careful.
The Caledon 400 will start on Friday, September 24, with documentation and scrutineering at the Tweespruit Sports Club after which the riders will complete the 57km time trial that will determine the starting grid for the main event on Saturday, September 25. The leading motorcycle rider will tackle the first 100km loop on Saturday at 08h00 while the first quad rider will be off at 08h30 and complete the opposite loop of the figure of eight route first.
Competitors will be required to complete both loops twice and the first motorcycle and quad rider are expected to finish at 14h00.