SA rider in quest for Dakar
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.
David Thomas is preparing to tackle the dunes and rugged terrain of Morocco in the Merzouga Rally.