ON TRACK FOR SOUTH AFRICA’S FIRST MULTI-STAGE RALLY RAID
With two month to go to South Africa’s first multi-stage rally for off-road motorcycle and quad riders, the small group of organisers of the Namaqua African Rally has relocated to the Vredendal area in the Western Cape to finalise the route for this five day event that will start on April 25th and finish on May 3rd 2014.
The Namaqua African Rally is the brain child of veteran off-road motorcycle rider and enthusiast, George Booker who is currently ‘living’ outside Vredendal with his son, Roland, from where they are busy finalising the route. The ceremonial start of the race will be on 25 April at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town and will finish there on 3 May, but the main race including the Prologue on Sunday (27 April) will take place in the Namaqualand on the west coast. Huge crowds are expected to welcome the competitors at the start at the V&A Waterfront as this event coincides with the World Triathlon ITU series.
The Prologue will determine the starting order for the first day of the Namaqua African Rally and will take place from Bergkraal 4x4 between Vredendal and Klawer with the rest of the route from Monday to Friday in the Vrededal area. Competitors will have to tackle a minimum of 350 kilometres a day while entrants in the Rally Raid and Adventure categories will travel on large sections of the race route as well.
According to Booker, a healthy amount of entries have already been received with many competitors making use of the ‘Early Bird Entries’ discount structure had they entered before February 1st. The racing season in South Africa has also started early and the organisers realised that many competitors had fairly large expenses to cover. They have therefore extended the cut-off date for entries to April 7th.
“We are very happy to see the names of South Africa’s National Off-road Champions on the entry list,” Booker commented. “The national off-road motorcycle champion, Kenny Gilbert, has entered the race while the quad champion, Jurie Meyer, and former champion, Brian Baragwanath, have already entered earlier this year. It is also good to see the name of another of the country’s top motorcycle competitors, Nicholas Pienaar, on the list and we hope to see more of the top names in the motorcycle category as many of the top quad riders have already entered,” he stated.
The Dakar Rally hero, Brett Cummings, who finished 28th overall this year and second in the Malle Moto Class for riders who compete without any mechanical assistance or back-up, has also entered the Namaqua African Rally. He will at last have a chance to compete in a Rally Raid in his own country after winning the Dakar Challenge at the 2012 Australasian Safari and competing in the Dakar Rally twice.
Also on the list in the motorcycle category is veteran off-road racer, Garth Roberts, who has also completed the Australasian Safari last year. Roberts will not only be participating, but will also be assisting the Dutch rider, Simon Schimmell, who is be one of a handful of international competitors.
This is however not a race only for the top riders and it is heartening to see family members who have entered the event. The 2013 Ladies Quad Class winner, Liezel Barnard, as well as her husband, Banie, will compete in the quad category and so will another couple, Org and Karen Geldenhuys. Both couples compete with the biggest quads available – 1000cc Can-Am Renegades. The three brothers from Hoedspruit – Tony, Roxy and Paul dos Santos – who have been competing in off-road quad racing for many years, will also participate.
Karen and Liezel are however not the only female entries and Taye Perry, who finished as the runner-up in the Ladies Off-road Motorcycle National Challenge, will join them as well as Chardi Monk, who has been competing in the national off-road quad championship for years, and Jenna Scott.
All competitors and officials will be monitored via a Selftrack unit during the race. Selftrack is the official tracking supplier to the event and the event’s Race Control offices will monitor the riders as well as officials – including the medical staff – so as to know exactly where each person is at any time during the race. The owner of Selftrack, Pieter Coetzee, will also be competing in the Rally Raid category.
Former Dakar Quad Winner, Vicus van Deventer, has indicated that he would like to compete as well, but his participation will depend on his recovery after recent knee surgery.
Competitors as well as riders in the Rally Raid and Adventure categories are feverishly busy with the preparation of their motorcycles and quads and the suppliers of road book readers – Desert Lizzard in Port Elizabeth and Flying Brick in Cape Town as well as Roberts Racing Rallye (Garth Roberts in Mafikeng) – are hard at work keeping up with the demand for navigation systems as 87 riders have already entered the event.
Fuel for the riders will be supplied by Brent Oil who is the official fuel supplier for the Namaqua African Rally.
“Our commitment to providing South Africans with fuel extends far beyond our highways and streets,” says Brent Oil spokesperson, Steve Pearce.
“At Brent Oil we are passionate about motorsport. We are dedicated to development and support and whether powering up boats, bikes, quads or cars, we are committed to fuelling motorsport in South Africa.
“Brent Oil will use the event to showcase our tried and tested logistics and prove that when we say we will deliver, we do. This includes the provision of over 24 000 litres of fuel at the start in Cape Town, Vredendal for the duration of the rally and two to three refuelling points on each of the four stages,” Pearce said.
Brent Oil is no stranger to motorsport and sponsored pilot Marc Gleed who took third place overall in the recent Trans Agulhas powerboat race. Brent Oil is set to be the exclusive sponsor when Gleed participates in the upcoming Trans Atlantic Adventure, a gruelling endurance race across the most dangerous waters off the Cape West Coast.
“Since entering the fuel market in 2003, Brent Oil went from strength to strength and with 50 service stations nationwide, Brent Oil is a formidable force with the ability to offer a compelling and refreshing alternative in the fuel industry,” Pearce stated.
“Our uncomplicated and innovative approach to delivery has seen us become the fastest growing fuel retailer in South Africa. By being flexible, reliable and driven by a responsibility to provide service that exceeds expectations, we are able to live up to our promise of being big enough to deliver, yet remaining small enough to care,” he concluded.
Competitors from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal as well as the northern provinces will be able to have their bikes and quads transported to the Cape and back free of cost as one of SA’s biggest transport companies, Junior Smith Trucking, is on board as a sponsor. This will be arranged on a first come, first serve basis.
The Namaqua African Rally can well be seen as South Africa’s own ‘mini Dakar Rally’ and with Mitsubishi Motors as the official vehicle sponsor to the event, a connection can be drawn between this manufacturer who has won the Dakar Rally more than 10 times. The organisers’ Mitsubishi Triton cannot be missed on the road and has not put a wheel wrong while working hard on the route for the event.
KTM SA is the motorcycle partner of the Namaqua African Rally and the organisers’ KTM’s have already put on many a trouble-free kilometre in Namaqualand.
Vredendal is the heart of Namaqua Wines who is the main sponsor of the Namaqua African Rally. They are inviting competitors, their crews and visitors to make use of the opportunity to visit their modern tourist centre, Die Keldery, that is situated at the Spruitdrift winery on the outskirts of Vredendal.
Entries for the Namaqua African Rally close on 7 April 2014.
More information about the NAMAQUA AFRICAN RALLY can be found on namaquaafricanrally.com and on on Twitter @NamaquaAfrRally