Story provided by SACC 

Pics by Franziska Brandl


Ross Branch thrilled his home crowd with the win on all 3 days

Ross Branch thrilled his home crowd with the win on all 3 days

After three days of racing, every finisher of the tough Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is a hero and the amount of points earned after these two rounds of the SA National Cross Country Championship for Motorcycles and Quads, will be worth the blisters and pain from almost a thousand kilometres in the saddle.

The TDR 1000 started on Friday at the Jwaneng Sport Complex in Botswana and finished there on Sunday 26 June. The race also formed two rounds of the Botswana Motorsport Off-road Championship. Riders not only competed for valuable points in the championship, but also for the glory of finishing this gruelling three-day race in the Botswana desert.

Botswana rider Ross Branch (Brother Leader Tread KTM) took the overall victory as well as win the in 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 the defending OR1 champion, Kenny Gilbert (Kargo Racing Husqvarna) with Altus de Wet (BCR Arrow Yamaha Racing) rounding off the OR1 podium. Michael Pentecost (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) crashed on Sunday and was one of the OR1 casualties.

In OR2 (250cc), Louw Schmidt also made it three victories in a row (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) to walk away with the class win with his arch rival, Jaycee Nienaber (Super Moose KTM) second despite not having a good day in the saddle on Sunday. Another Botswana rider, Vincent Crosbie (KTM), who has recently completed the Merzouga Rally in Morocco, competed in the Botswana Motorsport Off-road Championship and his consistency resulted in him finishing third in OR2 (B2).

Dartagnan Lobjoit (Yamaha), who is also from Botswana, used his knowledge of desert racing to the fullest and claimed the OR3 (200cc) / B1 win. It was all about consistency and receiving the chequered flag each day and that is what Wilhelm Schönfeldt (BCR Arrow Yamaha Racing) did to finish second in this class while Eduan Bester (KTM Centurion Liqui Moly Racing) finished his first desert race in third place in OR3. There were problems for the current OR3 champion, Brett Swanepoel (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who experienced mechanical issues on both days while Taki Bogiages (KTM) could also not finish the race on Sunday.

Victorious team mates Bollie van Rooyen and Ross Branch

Victorious team mates Bollie van Rooyen and Ross Branch

In the Senior Class / B6, the defending champion, Juan ‘Bollie’ van Rooyen (Brother Leader Tread KTM) has done many races in Botswana’s desert and he added a win to his list of results. He was followed by another experienced rider, Wynand Kleynhans (Yamaha) with Bruce May (Agrisales Peak Yamaha), who is an experienced enduro competitor also competing in the cross-country championship, finishing third.

Completing almost 1000 kilometres is not as easy for riders who are older than 46 years, but the Master Class / B4 riders made it to the finish. Two former champions, Pieter Holl (KTM) and Wayne Farmer (Doorzone Bikers Warehouse Husqvarna) battled it out in the desert with Holl winning and Farmer finishing as the runner-up while Harry Grobler (Yamaha) was third.

Racing in Botswana’s desert was a first experience for the High School Class competitors between the ages of 14 and 16. They showed their mettle with the 2015 Junior Champion, Stefan van Deventer (Alfie Cox Jnr KTM Racing) winning each day to take the victory. He was closely followed by Adriano Catalano (D&H Engineering Works Yamaha). André Basson (Yamaha) was third.

Only one lady, Yanke Pieterse (KTM) managed to complete each of the three days in the Ladies Class / B8 and after three victories, she is 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 the full distance.