|Posted on January 14, 2015 at 3:00 AM|
Although Team Rhide SA’s Brian Baragwanath had to give up in the 2015 Dakar Rally, his teammate and fellow Pretorian Hannes Saaijman, is still on track to deliver an excellent achievement in this grueling race.
After racing for almost a week and completing just over 4 400 kilometres, Pretoria’s off-road quad rider, Hannes Saaijman (Team Rhide SA), has reached the rest day of the 2015 Dakar Rally at Iquique in Chile in South America.
The 37th Dakar Rally started on 4 January at Buenos Aires (Argentina) and will finish there on 17 January after motorcycle and quad competitors have had completed a total of just over 9 500 kilometres through the toughest terrain in the world.
Team Rhide SA’s debut Dakar Rally did not start too well for Saaijman and his team-mate, Brian Baragwanath, with Baragwanath, who won his entry into the 2015 event by winning the 2014 Dakar Challenge event in Botswana, experiencing engine problems during the very first day. Saaijman had to tow him for 620 kilometres – 100 kilometres in the special racing stage and more than 500 kilometres on the road to the overnight bivouac where the service crew changed the engine on Baragwanath’s Yamaha Raptor.
Both riders lost a lot of time and dropped down the starting order of a field of about 200 motorcycle and quad competitors. They pushed hard to make up for lost time and Baragwanath was posting times on par with those of the top three fastest quad competitors at the first few waypoints.
Both riders were slowed down by flat rear tyres. Baragwanath did his best racing with two flat rear tyres at one stage, but he was eventually forced to call it a day after he could not get over the dunes. Saaijman was carrying a spare tyre and had to make use of it after he also had four flat wheels. He completed the day’s tough 685 kilometres.
Like Saaijman, who owns EMD Racing in Centurion, Baragwanath also runs his own workshop (BB Motorsport) in Centurion and he immediately became part of the back-up crew to support Saaijman for the rest of the race.
At Stage four, Saaijman was running in the second half of the quad field, but he was leading the First Timers Class and he is still in the lead in this category. He said from the Iquique bivouac in Chile: “The terrain is extremely rough and the dust is very, very bad. The Dakar is not like racing anything we know back in South Africa and you have to approach it differently. That is what I decided to do.”
This appears to be working for the tough 32-year old Pretoria businessman as he finished stage four, the first stage in Chile, in 22nd place. Early morning starts and long hours in the saddle did not hold him back and he posted the 13th fastest time of the quads after stage five’s 458 kilometres to move up to 16th place in this class. Stage six was the last stage before the Rest Day at Iquique in Chile and riders had to travel 322km on their motorcycles and quads to get to the start of the 318 kilometre special stage where a 50 kilometre dune section again formed part of the stage.
“Stage six was fast and rough,” Saaijman said afterwards. “At some places over the pans you could not hold on to the handlebars. It was also extremely dusty. My quad died again and I lost time looking for the problem. It was the ignition switch that was damaged by the dust,” said Saaijman.
He still managed to post the ninth fastest time and this pushed him to the 11th place on the overall standings. At the Rest Day almost half the field has been eliminated and only 24 quads are still in the running.
The next two days will be a major test for Saaijman and the rest of the motorcycle and quad competitors, as they will cross the border to Bolivia to tackle the Marathon Stage. Competitors will still have to do just over 5 100 kilometres in total of which about 3 000 kilometres will be special racing stages.
Published by: www.rekordeast.co.za
Picture Caption: Hannes Saaijman (Team Rhide SA) in action on his quad in the 2015 Dakar Rally.
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