SA rider in quest for Dakar

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING -

AF­TER an im­pres­sive 10th place in the Abu Dhabi Desert Chal­lenge in April, South African mo­tor­bike rider David Thomas is pre­par­ing to tackle the dunes and rugged ter­rain of Morocco in the Mer­zouga Rally — all in a quest to par­tic­i­pate in next year’s Dakar Rally.

“I am work­ing to­wards my dream of com­pet­ing in and fin­ish­ing the Dakar Rally in 2017,” said the 39- year- old Thomas from the HT Husq­varna Rally Team af­ter com­plet­ing the Abu Dhabi Desert Chal­lenge — a qual­i­fier race for the Dakar Rally — on April 7. His 10th place also made him the top fin­isher of the HT Husq­varna Rally Team.

Thomas, who com­petes with spon­sor­ship of Hyundai, among oth­ers, will line up with fel­low mo­tor­bike rid­ers at the start­ing line of the Mer­zouga Rally in Morocco, on May 21. Be­fore them will lie a pro­logue and five days of racing in a desert chal­lenge that is also re­ferred to as “Dakar’s Lit­tle Brother”, span­ning over some of the leg­endary Dakar stages that formed part of the race when it was still held in Africa.

In or­der to qual­ify for the Dakar, Thomas will have to tackle the “Pro” route in the Mer­zouga Rally which is plot­ted for ex­pe­ri­enced bike rid­ers who wish to com­pete against other ex­pe­ri­enced com­peti­tors, and who plan to take part in the Dakar.

The cherry on the cake for bike com­peti­tors who fin­ish the com­plete “Pro” route in the At­las Moun­tains and the north of the Sa­hara Desert over al­most a week, is that they will au­to­mat­i­cally pass the July se­lec­tions for the Dakar 2017 — and that is what Thomas is aim­ing at.

Thomas has been a com­peti­tor on two wheels — with or with­out and en­gine — since he was born and raised in Hout Bay, Cape Town. He started BMX cy­cling from the age of eight and was even­tu­ally crowned as South Africa’s Down­hill Cham­pion.

He has also rep­re­sented SA twice at the World Moun­tain Bike Cham­pi­onships in France and Canada, com­pleted the Cape Epic Race in 2009, as well as seven Cape Ar­gus Cy­cle Tours. On a mo­tor­bike he has been Western Prov­ince En­duro cham­pion nine times, and a four­times fin­isher of Roof of Africa. — Sup­plied.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

David Thomas is pre­par­ing to tackle the dunes and rugged ter­rain of Morocco in the Mer­zouga Rally.

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