Following his dramatic exit from Stage Eight of the Dakar Rally 2019 on Tuesday, Port Edward rider Stuart Gregory succeeded in getting a lift from Pisco back to Lima in time to catch his overnight flight back to Johannesburg.
Packing his gear for the final time in his hotel room, he was able to take some time to reflect on his Dakar experience and the lessons he’s learned.
“It was definitely tougher than I had expected,” conceded Gregory, the first South Coast rider in history to compete in the iconic rally.
“The dunes were especially difficult as this is not terrain that I can easily practice on in South Africa – and then of course there was the fesh-fesh in between the dunes”.
Describing himself as “tired and emotional” after coming so close to completing his first Dakar, Gregory said he couldn’t hide his disappointment at having to retire from the race after seven completed stages.
He admitted that at this point, a return to the Dakar is not on the cards for him, due in part to the expense of the event and all the sacrifices he had had to make – not least the time away from his wife and family.
Thinking about them had helped him keep his focus in the dunes, although he often found his mind wandering to the repair tasks he would need to do each evening.
Gregory pointed to the camaraderie between the riders as the best aspect of the Dakar. This sense of togetherness against the odds was particularly noticeable in Gregory’s unassisted Original by Motul Class.
Asked about his lowest points of the Dakar Rally 2019, the Motul Powersport Ambassador singled out the moment when he knew he couldn’t continue and had to make the call to retire from the event officially.
The Dakar Rally 2019 was clearly a huge learning experience for Gregory. His main takeout was the realisation that he could achieve much more than he ever thought possible, just by pushing himself that little bit harder.
Mercia Jansen, Motul Area Manager for Southern and Eastern Africa, commented, “We’re immensely proud of what Stuart Gregory has been able to achieve in the Dakar Rally 2019.
“It’s heart-breaking to see someone work so hard and then have to face such disappointment. That is why the Original by Motul class epitomises the true spirit of the Dakar, and it’s a challenge that Stuart met with courage, humour and determination”.
Although the Dakar Rally 2019 is over for Gregory, there are still two riders from southern Africa left in the event. Both are personal friends of Gregory’s, Dakar rookies, and ride for the BAS Dakar team.
At the end of Wednesday’s penultimate stage, Ross Branch (Botswana) was lying in 12th place in the overall Moto Classification, with South African Kenny Gilbert in 19th position.
Gregory was one of the featured competitors on Stage Seven. Watch his Dakar profile below.
To find out more about Gregory’s journey, go to: https://powersport.motul.com/ or read the articles below.