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DJ Rally: Local tough guys on bikes

2014-03-18 11:31


SPRIT OF THE RALLY: Des Burton retired his 1936 Velocette a few km short of the final control. He was awarded the cup for showing the 'Spirit' of the DJ. Race-winner Allan Cuninghame (inset) poses with his trophy. Image IAN GROAT

Allan Cuninghame, of the Cape Vintage Motorcycle Club, riding a 1936 Velocette, won the 2014 Durban-Johannesburg classic motorcycle rally in March.

Allan Cuninghame, of the Cape Vintage Motorcycle Club,  won the event with his 1936 Velocetton a demanding 800km route on March 7/8.


The event started in Hillcrest and finished at the Turffontein race course after an overnight stop in Newcastle.
The annual regularity trial is a commemoration of the annual road race for motorcycles held on public roads in Durban and Johannesburg between 1913 and 1936 when the authorities put a stop to it, calling the race “too dangerous”. For this reason, competing motorcycles are required to be from 1936 or earlier.

Second place went to Gavin Walton (1936 AJS). Walton was seriously injured when a car hit his motorcycle after the Pre-DJ Rally in February 2013. He was sheltering from the rain under a bridge at the time of the crash.

Ralph Pitchford, who finished second in 2013 riding his 1926 Triumph P-Type 500, claimed third. Pitchford, a co-driver in the Dakar Rally, rode with his brothers, Harold (1926 AJS A5 350) and David (1936 BSA B2 250). Harold finished ninth but David was forced to retire on the first day.

Kevin Robertson (1936 Velocette), who won the event for the sixth time in 2013, was fourth.

Interestingly 13 Velocettes entered the 2014 DJ Rally and 12 finished, Clive Lynn’s MSS split its petrol tank halfway and he had to retire.


The 2014 event attracted a sprinkling of international riders including two South Africans who have made their names in global motorsport - Alastair Gibson and Brian Gush.

Gibson, who was involved in Formula 1 for many years, rode his father’s 1936 BMW and finished the route further down the rankings. Gush, director of Bentley motorsport, suffered mechanical problems with his 1931 BSA on the first day and was forced to retire. He borrowed an OK Supreme to ride on March 15.

The 2014 event, organised on behalf of the Vintage and Veteran Club of SA by Peter Hall, attracted 127 entries but 14 failed to start and 48 failed to finish, which meant just over half the starters qualified as finishers.

The high rate of attrition has been attributed in part to the comparatively high average speeds set for these old motorcycles which resulted in many mechanical breakdowns. Some riders also found "unnecessary gimmicks" in the route schedule which was tough on those competitors that do not take part in similar rallies during the year.

1 Allan Cuninghame, 1936 Velocette
2 Gavin Walton, 1936 AJS
3 Ralph Pitchford, 1926 Triumph
4 Kevin Robertson, 1936 Velocette
5 Mike Ward, 1935 Velocette
6 Kevin Walton, 1931 BSA
7 Keith Kendall, 1935 Velocette
8 Rikki Maizey, 1936 Norton
 9 Harold Pitchford, 1936 BSA
10 Ron Thomsett, 1933 BSA

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