The Classic Motorcycle Rally

1993 Rhino - Comasec DJ Rally

From the Second Quarter 1992 SAVVA Automobilist magazine, volume 18 number 2

By Kevin Robertson

In spite of the increased costs and political unrest, the '93 D-J showed that this prestigious and traditional gathering of riders on pre-1937 motor cycles, has a hard core of support that must surely continue for many years to come.

To emphasize this, 132 riders signalled their intent to collect a finishers medal in the 1993 D-J, coming from as far afield as Zimbabwe in the North and Cape Town in the South.

What is it that motivates bikers to participate in this event? Is it the atmosphere that is particularly evident in the parking garage during documentation and scrutineering, or the wisecracks at the competitors meeting, or the anxious minutes just before the start, the camaraderie at lunch on the first day in beautiful surroundings, the inevitable high jinks during the overnight stop at Newcastle, the thrill of crossing the finishing line at the Market on the second day, the many stories and experiences to relate over a beer at the finish, the excitement at the prize giving waiting for the results to be posted, or the post mortems once all is said and done? The answer of course, is to be found in all of these and many more situations that collectively make the D-J what it is.

When I first rode the D-J in 1984, I guessed that some 10% of the bikes entered were in concours condition with another 20-25% being top class restorations. Over the years, I have seen these percentages increase significantly and at a guess, I would say that 20% of the X93 entry was in the concours class, while some 70% of the remainder were restorations of which any biker could be proud. This trend must be very encouraging for the organizers and sponsors, who put so much into the event.

This year's rally followed the traditional route, with the now established start at Botha's Hill to avoid the dangers of early morning traffic out of Durban on a Friday. There was also a brief tour through Perdekop on the second day, with the successful objective of placing a marshal point in a relatively secure area. The aspect of marshal safety on rallies passing through remote parts is one that will need more attention in the future and a reasonably successful experiment on this year's D-J was the self-timed control, using a pre-printed card for this purpose. With a bit of development, this type of control could become a permanent feature in future events.

Weather, apart from a brief shower of rain that caught a few competitors between Estcourt and Colenso, could not have been better. Good weather for bikers is always a plus and together with a nice 'social' route schedule (no catches, tricks, heavy calculations and tough speed changes), made the rallying part of the D-J a pleasure.

However, the more challenging aspect of the D-J is always bike reliability and as always, some competitors were luckier than others. Hard lines for Jan Cornel on his immaculate 500cc DKW, who picked up a puncture near Colenso and veteran John Linley, always a potential winner, who had the frustration of a throttle cable nipple pulling loose on his usually trusty 500cc Velocette. Vrystater Jim Mahaffey, chasing a top ten finish, lost the clutch operating mechanism of his 500cc Red Hunter Ariel on the second day while Tullio Bernadi's Excelsior Manxman clutch also cried enough. Capetonian John Pitchford, who has many 250cc class wins to his credit, ran well to Newcastle and then his BSA failed to respond to the best starting efforts John could muster, and he had to retire. Happily, all four lady entrants ran reliably to the finish, ably assisted by fathers, husbands and friends and in the end it was Bev Sloman on a 1935 250cc Triumph who took the ladies cup.

At the end of the first day, the leaders were:

1. Dick Stroud 31 sec error
2. Kevin Robertson 36 sec error
3. Doug McClaren 37 sec error
4. Hennie van Niekerk 38 sec error
5. Paul Woodley 42 sec error
6. Barry Stead 43 sec error
7. Adrian Woodley 43 sec error
8. Stuart Fergusson 47 sec error
9. Alan Birch 49 sec error
10. George Corlett 53 sec error

There is a superstition associated with the D-J that the leader at Newcastle never wins the rally. Happily for Dick, there were no provisional results available after the first day so he and all those chasing him set off on the second day with open minds. However, by the time the field reached Greylingstad, the first day results were available and much discussion and comment took place over the very welcome hot dogs and coffee that have become synonymous with this refuelling stop. However, with a long regularity section ahead from Greylingstad to Heidelberg and then the worrying last open section run to the finish, where every competitor dreads a breakdown, the rally was far from over.

One hundred and seven bikes were classified as making the finish line at the Market, which has become an ideal venue to end at, with grateful thanks to those who made it possible. As always, there were many enthusiasts to welcome in the competitors, not the least being a great number of modern and classic bike riders and pillion passengers, many of whom had followed the rally for the whole distance or met the field at Standerton. These enthusiasts, who have been part of the D-J tradition for many years, add to the atmosphere and nostalgia that the D-J holds for so many of us.

The prize giving brunch was held on Sunday morning at the Bryanston Country Club. After a minor hitch with the second day results, where a spot of finger trouble resulted in bike numbers instead of seconds being entered as a penalty for one marshal point into the computer, order was restored and produced the following overall results:

1. Kevin Robertson 1936 250cc Velocette GTP 63 sec penalty
2. Paul Woodley 1935 750cc BMW R12 72 sec penalty
3. Stuart Ferguson 1936 350cc Velocette MAC 74 sec penalty
4. Alan Birch 1930 500cc Norton 18 76 sec penalty
5 Dick Stroud 1930 350cc Calthorpe Ivory 78 sec penalty
6. Barry Stead 1928 500cc Norton 16H 81 sec penalty
7. Paul Vink 1930 500cc Sunbeam 9 82 sec penalty
8. George Corlett 1931 500cc BSA 531 87 sec penalty
9 Robin Hollis 1933 500cc BSA Blue Star 88 sec penalty
10. Hennie v Niekerk 1930 350cc Calthorpe Ivory 93 sec penalty

Thus ended another super D-J, organized so well by the team of Irving Leibbrant, Dave Sansom and John Meeks, and sponsored once again by Comasec/Rhino, the safety equipment specialists.

Roll on 1994.
The Author and winner of the 1993 D-J Commemorative Run - Kevin Robertson