Khawa — Some motocross fans were left disappointed when Ross Branch, also known as Kalahari Ferrari, did not compete in the recent Khawa Dune Challenge and Cultural Festival in Khawa.
Branch, the fastest Dakar Rally rookie and Southern Africa champion, instead opted to monitor trainee riders.
He gave his trainees a platform to ride through the desert dunes of Khawa, where he had been busy, over the years, preparing them for the world stage.
Branch said in an interview that he had been training young riders since 2013.
The Kalahari Ferrari collaborated with Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) on the motor sport training camp to impart knowledge on both motocross and cross-country.
"It's been a long road and this year I wanted them to race in the Wildebeest category because normally they are in their own category. I wanted them to show how fast they really are as they have been working really hard in the last couple of years.
"They are at a stage where we can engage with the private sector to get them sponsors in order to race in the Botswana national motocross championships. Three of them are ripe and ready for the races," Branch said.
He stated that, even though a lot of the trainees were fast, they had no interest in racing professionally and only preferred the Khawa challenge.
He started off with 60 trainees in 2013 and the number has since dropped to 10.
Nonetheless, he said, since most had the riding skills, everything was open to them in the motor racing world.
"They can be quad bike instructors. We have opened many doors for them. That is very important to me and the development of motorsport in Botswana," he said.
Branch's target was to prepare them to fill his place in future and represent Botswana internationally.
"Botswana is such an amazing country. The country has done so much for me so the least I can do is just to give back," he said.
The motor sport training camp in Khawa was started in 2013 where Branch had been travelling once in three months to train youth.
Branch said he was proud that the trainees knew the history of their village, which would come handy when tourists visited Khawa.
"The trainees are from Khawa and they know their culture. The motorsport training camps are not just about racing, it's also about the lifestyle here," he said.
In an interview, 25-year-old Tumelo Manyoro said he started with training camp in 2013.
Manyoro said he learnt how to ride a bike and all techniques required to win a race.
He is a small stock herd boy who aspires to earn a living from motocross racing.
"I want to be where Ross is, the challenge is that they confine us to Khawa, the time has come for us to tackle bigger races," he said.
He appreciated BTO and Branch for transforming his life by arming him with motorsport skills.
"We were taught by the best of the best so when you learn from the best it is a privilege that I am ready to show," he said.
Another trainee rider 19-year-old Bernard Sejanamane also a Khawa native, who started riding in 2016, said he also aspired to fill Branch's boots and hoist Botswana's flag high in motocross racing.
Source : BOPA