Desert race ride: Winners after ‘test of survival’

in Jwaneng, Botswana

Every finisher from the tough Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is a hero and the points earned from the two rounds of the SA National Cross-Country championship for motorcycles and quads will be worth the blisters and pain from almost 1000km in the saddle.

The three-day event started on Friday here at the Jwaneng Sport Complex in Botswana and finished there on Sunday (June 26). It included two rounds of the Botswana Motorsport Off-Road championship and riders competed not only for championship points but also for the glory of finishing this gruelling three-day blast through the Kalahari Desert.

It was a true test of survival even for the fittest so those with the most determination and perseverance can be proud of completing this marathon race while the winners are true heroes.


After Day 3 (Sunday) Botswana’s Ross Branch (KTM) took overall victory in the motorcycle category and the OR1 (Open) Class after winning the 50km time-trial on Friday as well as the 490km race on Saturday and the 374km race on Sunday.


He was followed by defending OR1 champion Kenny Gilbert (Husqvarna) with Altus de Wet (Yamaha) rounding off the OR1 podium. Michael Pentecost (Yamaha) crashed on Sunday – one of the OR1 casualties.

In OR2 (250cc) Louw Schmidt also made it three wins in a row (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) to walk away with the class win with his arch-rival Jaycee Nienaber (KTM) second despite not having a good day in the saddle on Sunday.

Friday’s qualifying report
Saturday’s race report

Another Botswana rider, Vincent Crosbie (KTM) who recently completed the Merzouga Rally in Morocco, North Africa, competed in the Botswana Motorsport Off-Road championship and his consistency resulted in him finishing third in OR2 (B2).

Dartagnan Lobjoit (Yamaha), yet another Botswanan, used his knowledge of desert racing to the fullest to win the OR3 (200cc) / B1 win. It was all about consistency and receiving the chequered flag each day – which is what Wilhelm Schönfeldt (Yamaha) did to finish second in this class.

Eduan Bester (KTM) was third in OR3 in this his first desert race.

There were problems on both days for current OR3 champion Brett Swanepoel (Yamaha) who had mechanical issues on each day. Taki Bogiages (KTM) also didn’t reach the finish on Sunday.

In the Senior Class / B6 defending champion Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (KTM) – a regular racer in the Kalahari – added a win to his list of results, followed home by another experienced rider, Wynand Kleynhans (Yamaha). Bruce May (Yamaha), another experienced enduro competitor also competing in the cross-country championship, was third.

Racing a motorcycle or quad for three days and completing almost 1000km is not as easy for riders who are older than 46 but the Master Class / B4 riders made it to the finish. Two former champions, Pieter Holl (KTM) and Wayne Farmer (Husqvarna) battled it out with Holl winning and Farmer runner-up. Harry Grobler (Yamaha) was third.

Racing in Botswana’s desert was a first experience for the High School Class competitors (aged 14 through 16). They showed their mettle with 2015 Junior champion Stefan van Deventer (KTM) winning on each day to take the victory.

He was closely followed by Adriano Catalano (Yamaha) with André Basson (Yamaha) third.

Only one lady, Yanke Pieterse (KTM), completed each of the three days in the Ladies Class / B8 and won on each day, a deserving winner.


In the Silver Class Challenge Schalk Kritzinger (Honda) walked away as the winner followed by Hume Schönfeldt (Yamaha) and Riaan Prinsloo (Yamaha). Like the ladies, their race is somewhat shorter than full distance.


The race took its toll on the quads where Hannes Saaijman (Yamaha), who finished the 2-15 Dakar Rally in the top 10, managed the Open Quad Class / B3 win. He was followed by his younger brother and team mate Attie with André Park (Yamaha) third. Another Dakar Rally finisher, Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha), won on Saturday but crashed and injured an elbow on Sunday.

In the Master Class (B7 / B5) George Twigge (Yamaha) was the only finisher. He also crashed on Saturday and lost time but made it to the finish so after the disappointment of not completing the 2016 Dakar he can look back at a successful TDR 1000 on home soil.


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