The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race (TDR 1000) in Botswana is a gruelling and ruthless event, but it rewarded the winners in the fourth round of the SA Cross Country Championship for Motorcycles and Quads that took place over the last of three days of racing with another victory and lots of valuable points towards the various championships.

The TDR forms the third and fourth rounds of the SACC Moto series with the third day in Botswana usually having the highest rate of attrition as riders and their machines already completed more than 450 kilometres with 420 kilometres still to go. This year, all the winners of the various national class championships at round three (Saturday, 24 June), went on to take another round of victories at the fourth round (Sunday, 25 June).

In the motorcycle category, OR1 (Open) championship leader and local Botswana rider, Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) and his team-mate, the Senior Class leader, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen, both claimed their fourth class victories of the season as did OR2 (250cc) leader, Brett Swanepoel (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna Racing) and the OR3 (200cc) and High School leaders and Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing team-mates, Kyle Flanagan and Stefan van Deventer while Wayne Farmer (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) scored his first two victories in the Master Class this year and he did so in Botswana.

Branch’s experience of the Botswana desert came in handy as he took a comfortable OR1 victory as well as the overall win. Kenny Gilbert (Liqui Moly Racing Husqvarna) finished second (he was third overall) with Tristan Purdon (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha Racing) rounding off the podium after his first visit to the TDR. Another Botswana rider, Vincent Crosbie, who competed in the Dakar Rally earlier this year as the first Botswana rider to do so, finished fourth while Robert Pollock (Yamaha) was fifth today. Tim Young (Sherco Liqui Moly Racing), who was second in the OR1 standings before the TDR, experienced mechanical problems on Friday and could not compete in round three. He then tackled the fourth round on Sunday from the back and finished ninth in OR1.
Dartagnan Lobjoit (Yamaha), also from Botswana, who was third the day before, could not complete the fourth round.

In OR2, Swanepoel, who finished second overall, was chased hard by Louwrens Mahoney (Brother Leader Tread KTM) and they posted the same time after the first of the two 210 kilometre loops. Mahoney then lost just over three minutes during the second loop to finish second in OR2 (he was fourth on the overall standings). Gareth Cole (KTM) was again third with Ruan Smith (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) getting into the top five with a fourth place and Alex Scheuer (KTM) rounding off the top five.

In OR3, the battle was on between the three frontrunners with Flanagan pulling a gap of just under three minutes on second placed Charan Moore (Live Lesotho Yamaha) with Taki Bogiages (KTM) finishing just over a minute behind Moore to round off the podium that looked the same after both rounds. Wilhelm Schönfeldt (BCR Arrow Yamaha Racing) scored another fourth place with Darren Macleod (Yamaha) finishing in the top five this time as Ian Rall (KTM), who was fifth the day before, had to settle for sixth place.

There was another fairly easy victory for Van Rooyen, the multiple Senior Class champion, with Kobus Jonck (KTM), who competed on national level for the first time this season, finishing second ahead of Hentie Hanekom (Husqvarna) who scored his second podium result this weekend albeit by a narrow margin. A mere 13 seconds separated Hanekom from Bruce May (Bidvest Blu Cru Yamaha) after being in the saddle for just over six hours and 40 minutes. Wilhelm du Toit (Husqvarna), who is training for his participation in the 2018 Dakar Rally, was fifth with Bruce Viljoen (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna), second the previous day, having to settle for ninth place after a tough day in the desert.

Van Deventer, the defending High School champion, looks unstoppable and also doubled his victories at the 2017 TDR. Juan-Pierre de Villiers (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing KTM) was as consistent and finished a step higher than the previous day with a second place. Ryan Pelser (KTM), who competes with the smallest motorcycle in this class, rounded off the podium after finishing seventh the day before. There was another fourth place for Barend Pretorius (KTM) with Maarten van Jaarsveld (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) fifth after a podium result at round three.

The Master Class battle between Farmer and Pieter Holl (KTM), who won the first two rounds earlier this season, continued and once again, only a few seconds (39 to be exact) separated them this time. Stefan’s dad, Faan van Deventer (Yamaha) again finished on the podium with Iain Pepper (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna) and Trevor Hills (Yamaha) changing places from the previous day with Pepper who took the fourth place and Hills rounding off the top five.

Dayna Nienaber (KTM) took another victory in the Ladies Class while Ryan van Es (KTM) won the Silver Class Interprovincial Challenge this time.

There was trouble for the defending Open Quad champion, Hannes Saaijman (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing KTM) who lost time due to a cracked fuel tank the previous day and ran out of fuel just before the end. He was supported to the finish by his brother and team-mate, Abraham (Yamaha) who won the race. Hannes, who was still second behind his brother after all the trouble, then had to fit a different fuel tank to be able to compete in the final day resulting in an awkward racing position and although he posted the fastest time during the first lap, he lost time later and managed a 15th place with Abraham taking his second TDR victory.

The scholar, Keenan Hammon (Yamaha) finished on the podium – he was fourth the previous day – and was second after matching Abraham’s time on the first lap, but he then fell back somewhat. Like the previous day, Hennie Michau (Yamaha) finished third with his dad, Hennie Sr, also on a Yamaha, again finishing in sixth place. Pierre van Heerden (Honda), who was second in the championship standings before the TDR, who could not complete round three the previous day, was happy with a fourth place and some valuable points. The former champion, Stefan Swanepoel (Yamaha), who has retired from racing, but decided to participate in the popular TDR, was fifth after he also did not receive the chequered flag the day before.

Mmusi Thato Maungwa (Yamaha) was just over half a minute behind Michau Sr with Dean Bradbury (Can-Am) bringing his Side-by-Side vehicle home in eighth place. Riaan Dique (Q-KON EMD Basefit Racing Yamaha) was ninth with Andries Bester (Yamaha) rounding off the top ten.
Junior Vardy (Yamaha) claimed his second Silver Class Interprovincial Challenge win of the weekend.


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