When he crashed out of the Australasian Safari back in 2009 and was forced to quit riding bikes for two years, little did Kobus Potgieter know that he would eventually be at the start of the Dakar. The idea however had been in the back of the South African’s mind for quite some time.
Soon to be 50 years of age (in June), his time has finally come. This naval architect will be part of the Bas Dakar team and will be riding a 450 RR KTM with the only ambition to reach the finish. And that would be quite a reward after so many sacrifices and tough moments.
K.P.: “Recently while putting Dakar stickers on my motorbike, I told a friend: it took me 16 years to get to the Dakar. That’s indeed when I started talking about it. This year, for my 50th birthday, it was now or never. But it’s a very expensive present. Initially my plan was to compete in all the 2015 World Cup rallies but I injured myself in Abu Dhabi and decided I would go for the Dakar. If I hadn’t broken my wrist, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the Dakar.
“This rally calls for more endurance with its long days. I’ve done specific training with oxygen and I ride every single day of the year. We are lucky enough to have the roads, paths and distances for that in South Africa. I believe my main concern will be the cold and the altitude. For everyone, the ambition is to finish. I need to get into the rhythm and also enjoy myself. I’ve received tremendous support.
“I think it’s important for the people back home to understand what is involved and all the sacrifices you have to make for a two-week race. Personally, it took me 365 days of rehab in hospitals, 22 motorbikes, 50 000kms of riding, two mariages and over a hundred days of travelling each year to finally get to the start of my first Dakar. But for me being in the desert when I work mostly on water is so refreshing. It’s soul searching… »