Multiple South African champion Brian Baragwanath gave South Africa its second podium finish with third place in the quad category on the Dakar Rally which ended here yesterday after two weeks of racing through Bolivia and Argentina. Baragwanath, on the Team Rhide SA Yamaha, won the 13th and final special stage to cement his podium place. South Africa also scored a podium place in the car category via the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA pair of Giniel De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz.
It was a race where extreme high and low temperatures, along with heavy rains, provided competitors in the quad and motorcycle categories with a stern test of staying power. The South African finished behind Argentinian brothers Marcos and Alejandro Patronelli, with Russian Sergei Karyakin and Argentinian Gonzalez Ferioli fourth and fifth. The top five were all riding Yamahas with Baragwanath making a fast start that included second place on stage two, and a win on special stage three. Baragwanath then ran into problems with punctures and mechanical issues dropping him down to 10th place at the end of the first leg.
The four-time South African champion got the bit between his teeth when the race restarted, and started to rapidly haul in the riders ahead of him. The Patronelli brothers were secure at the front of the field, but Baragwanath’s second leg charge sealed his podium place. At the halfway stage two other Team Rhide SA competitors, George Twigge (13) and Ted Barbier (30) were also in the top 30.
Twigge was an early casualty on leg two of the race and dropped out with mechanical problems on stage nine, with Barbier hanging in to finally finish 21st out of 23 classified finishers. The bike category was won at the second attempt by Australian Toby Price, on a KTM, ahead of Slovakian Stefano Svitko (KTM) and Chilean Pablo Quintanilla on a Husqvarna. Price described his win as “insane” and took over the lead early on the second leg when Portuguese rider Paolo Goncalves, on a Honda, fell by the wayside.
Kobus Potgieter, on a KTM, was the lone South African bike survivor. Potgieter, who will turn 50 in June, stuck gamely to the task and was classified 80th. Lesotho rider Wessel Bosman was forced to retire before that halfway mark after a crash on stage six.
The accident left Bosman with a broken left wrist, broken bones in both hands and a chipped elbow.