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SA National Off-Road Champs Returns to Swaziland

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After an absence of nine years, the sound of off-road motorcycle and quad engines will again be heard in Swaziland when this country hosts a round of the South African National Off-road Championship. The event, the ‘Swazi Cowboyz 400’, will form the second round of the 2015 TOTPAK SA National Off-road Championship and will take place on March 21st from the Usutu Country Club, 30 odd kilometres inland from Mbabane.

Competitors from all over South Africa, from as far as Musina and Polokwane in the Limpopo Province; Hoedspruit, Nelspruit and Middelburg in Mpumalanga; Gauteng and Rustenburg and Mafikeng in the North-West Province; Hartswater in the Northern Cape; Port Elizabeth, Queenstown and East London as well as Ladybrand in the Free State and even from as far as Matatiele and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal are looking forward to race in Swaziland again. There are also competitors from Botswana who will make the trek to Swaziland while Swaziland riders will also support their ‘own’ race.

Visitors will also include spectators who love the Swaziland scenery and the Usutu Country Club will be a hive of activity from Friday (20 March) when the colourful gazebo’s and flags of the factory teams as well as sattelite teams and privateers will form a little ‘racing village’. Competitors will be able to do their documentation for the race on Friday already as it will be quite a hectic morning on race day (Saturday, 21 March) when competitors have to tackle the 60km time-trial already between 7:30 and 8:00. They will then start the main race at 10:30 in the order they qualified. Motorcycle and quad competitors who have to complete the full race distance (360 kilometres), will have to complete five more laps.

It is not easy to organise a race of this magnitude and Mark Deakin and Sam Breero and their team, who have been involved in racing, have been working hard for the past five months to make sure the ‘Swazi Cowboyz 400’ event will be a success. It would also not have been possible for them to put this event together was it not with the support of their sponsors. A huge ‘thank you’ must go to Montigny as the forest land owner, who have made the forest available to use for the race. They are keen supporters of the race and would like to see racing return to Swaziland.

Other sponsors include Metropolitan (the paramedics for the race); Mababane Motors who put money up for prizes; the Total Garage who supplied fuel to the marshalls; Apollo Printers who printed the posters; Umoba who helped with the prizegiving venue; Mica Hardware who supplied material to mark the routes and Swazi Trac who not only supplied Castrol oils to the marshalls, but made a John Deere Gator available to mark the route.

According to the organisers, the routes will be very exciting and will consist predominantly of old disused forest roads that are full of twists. Riders will have their work cut out for them as there will be many corners. The two loops are both about 60 kilometres long and competitors will have to be aware of the slippery wet sections in forest that do not get any sunshine.

“To have a national off-road race back in Swaziland, is like a dream come true,” Deakin said. “We hope that this event will kickstart racing in Swaziland and would like Swaziland to be a riding hot-spot in southern Africa,” they said.

Swaziland can look forward to some great results from their own heroes who have been travelling to South Africa from many years to participate in the national off-road series. Local Ezulwini businessman, Jono van Wyk, who is part of the Brother Leader Tread KTM factory team, has always been a top contender and will aim to make his home crowd proud with good results. He has also been involved behind the scenes to get the race back to Swaziland. Van Wyk is currently in a close fourth place in the extremely competitive OR3 Class (for 250cc 4-stroke / 200cc 2-stroke motorcycles) with only seven points separating the top four riders after the first round of the TOTPAK National Series.

The Swaziland motorcycle racing legend, Danny Heenan, will also be in action as will Laurence Murton. In the quad category, Gareth Emmett, who has competed in South Africa in the Junior as well as the senior series, will also participate while many Swaziland riders will tackle this national off-road race for the first time.

All the South African defending champions will be in action and will aim for the maximum amount of points in the various class championships. Motorcycle and quad riders will race on different loops and will change loops at the halfway mark. There will be good spectator points along the route and spectators will also be able to get close to the action at the Start/Finish and central service point at the Usutu Country Club.

More information about the ‘Swazi Cowboyz 400’ can be found on Swazi Offroad Racing on Facebook / www.dirtracing.co.za and Dirt Racing Facebook page.

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