Quintin van Jaarsveld
Stuart Gregory’s intense training for next year’s Dakar reaped early rewards in the form of a podium finish in the ultra-tough Tankwa Cross-Country Rally outside Calvinia on Sunday.
The Port Edward rider used the three-day navigational rally in the Northern Cape as race preparation for the 2019 Dakar and came through it with a third position in the Rally Class.
Riders had to conquer consecutive eight/nine-hour racing days in the harsh, barren landscape, known by many as the home of the Africa Burn.
Gregory’s burning desire to become the first South Coast rider to compete in the Dakar – an opportunity he earned at the Afriquia Merzouga Rally in Morocco in April – and rigorous training saw him complete the some 1400km journey on his KTM 450 rally bike in good shape and time.
A second place on the final day saw him storm onto an all-South African podium, with fellow 2019 Dakar qualifier Kenny Gilbert taking the win and experienced Dakar rider Donovan van de Langenberg finishing second.
“I’m very happy with third and it was a great experience,” Gregory told eHowzit.
“My rally bike was heavier than the enduro bikes the other riders used, so it made it a bit more difficult, but I gained good experience on the bike and in terms of GPS and Rally Book navigating. It was only three days, but it’s a malle moto and I managed some good times.
“It was a tough event, but my body felt great throughout. Donovan helped me a lot; he gave me a lot of tips. It was a good stepping stone and I feel energetic and ready for the next challenge.”
The pleasing performance will serve as added motivation for an already ultra-determined Gregory.
“We’re about 100 days away from Dakar and my preparation is in full speed. I train twice a day, which includes crossfit under Mitchell Anderson from CrossFit Wild Coast, which has helped me a lot.
“I’m sacrificing a lot, virtually going bankrupt to get to the start line, but it’s been a lifelong dream and I know that it’ll be a trip of a lifetime.”
Gregory, a macadamia farmer, has to raise roughly R1.2-million in order to make it to the start line and has therefore launched the Nuts4Dakar campaign.
To support Gregory, contact him on 082 770 4727 or visit www.nuts4dakar.co.za, and follow his quest on Instagram at nut4dakar.