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Local teen set for Dakar trial

KABELO BORANABI
Scaling the heights: Armstrong will be an observer at the Dakar Rally as he prepares todebut in 2021
Local biking sensation, Brady Armstrong is joining HT Rally Raid team for the Dakar Rally, scheduled for early next year in the Persian Gulf.

The Lobelo Racing Club Francistown rider has been invited to join the Netherlands-based HT Rally Raid Husqvarna motorcycle team, as an observer for the spectacle that is to be held in Saudi Arabia from January 5 to 17, 2020.

Armstrong has had a good season on bike including a performance at this year’s 1000km Toyota Desert Race in Selebi-Phikwe where he finished the first round of the race in an overall second position before his race was stopped due to a mechanical problem.

He has also been doing well at the Gauteng Cross Country Series (the GXCC 2019) despite competing in just four rounds of the championships.

According to his father and Armstrong’s Racing team manager, Gregg Armstrong, the 18-year-old’s recent performances caught the eye of international suitors and legendary biker and manager, Henk Hellegers of HT Rally Raid team were the first to make a move for the youngster.

“Hellegers visited Botswana in August, to meet us (Armstrong’s Racing Projects) about Brady’s future. We discussed plans for Brady to train and race abroad.

This plan will see Brady study, train and compete in the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Dubai and other African countries over the next few years.

He is joining the team as an understudy for the Dakar with an aim for him to compete in the 2021 Dakar Rally,” Gregg told Mmegi Sport this week. 

“This is the start of a long tough journey to Brady’s Dakar dream, but we are up to the challenge and take great inspiration from previous riders from Botswana, such as Vincent Crosbie, recently Ross

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Branch, who have already successfully competed at the Dakar. Brady may become the youngest Motswana rider to compete at the Dakar event in the next few years ahead if all goes (according) to plan.”

For his part, Brady said he was happy about the learning experience. “I am very excited and privileged to go and observe at the Dakar with the team. We aim to go and learn about all preparations and requirements of a rider, in the world’s toughest race. Mapping and navigation would be all new to me so there is a lot to learn. Vincent Crosbie and Ross Branch have already put Botswana on the map, and I now want to do the same and hopefully learn a lot from the experiences of Ross and Vincent,” Brady said.

Brady will move up from racing the OR3 class to the OR1 class next year as part of preparation for the 2021 Dakar Rally. He is not new to racing abroad, as in 2011 at just 10-years-old he won Sacramento Raceway Friday in California under US Pro-coach Jerrad Fisher.

HT Rally Raid team sent six riders at this year’s edition of the Dakar Rally held in Paraguay. Five of them managed to finish the race with Argentine, Puchi Ontiveros finishing the highest at an overall position of 31.

Meanwhile, the Botswana Motor Sport will have the last round of the national off-road championship tomorrow dubbed Kumakwane200. Dakar Rally-bound Branch will compete on home soil for the last time before heading to Saudi Arabia on December 27, 2019.



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