SELEBI PHIKWE: In the absence of the perennial two wheeler champion Ross Branch, Mike Wilkinson took the initiative and won his first Toyota 1000 Kilometres title here on Sunday.
Wilkinson raced to the finish line ahead of Robert Pollock in a close contest. The winner is on the Botswana Motor Sport OR2 category while his runners-up is on the OR1.
Wilkinson took the lead from the time trials on Friday when he claimed a marginal 0.8 seconds lead on Pollock. He held on to the lead for the first heat on Saturday.
On Sunday he gained time on his chaser when Pollock’s injectors pecked just 50 kilometres into the race. Wilkinson took advantage to open a healthy 45 minutes’ gap in the heat.
He held tightly to fend his fierce chaser and arrived home with a few minutes differentiating them. Wilkinson finished on 11:04:50. The KTM 250 rider said he experienced a navigation issue that ate away his time and allowed Pollock in the game.
Both riders said the rocky terrain was gruesome, with lots of roots, branches and was too dusty. Wilkinson was, however elated with his first win after five years of trying.
“It was tough and technical. I had Robert (Pollock) in my tail the whole race. I gained advantage from the onset and I ensured I held onto it and luckily I saw it through. I am very happy with my first win after trying since 2011,” he said.
Wilkinson is the current leader in his category in the Botswana’s national championship. The win will also add up to his national championship points.
“It means a very healthy lead overall, it couldn’t have been better,” he said proudly.
Pollock was disappointed to have missed out with two minutes after a pain striking comeback from the 45 minutes’ deficit on the second heat. He recorded the best time of the heat on Sunday.
“It pains but I have to take it. I am happy with the overall time today (Sunday). Saturday was a costly day for me. I fought well but it was not enough,” Pollock said.
Pollock finished second with 11:08:30 and Taye Perry finished third in the TDR 1000 adventure invitation bikes with 11:26:57.