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DJ 2017 done and dusted

17.03.2017

That's the 2017 Durban-Johannesburg Rally done and dusted, and although first place was taken by a "foreigner" local riders scooped a fair number of the silverware.

The DJ is a regularity trial with riders having to adjust their speed to reach checkpoints at predetermined times - a penalty point is earned for each second early or late, and penalties are cumulative. If you're 15 seconds early at one checkpoint and 15 late at another, you'll have a big fat 30 points chalked up alongside your name.

The winner of this year's event, Gavin Walton, accumulated just 99 points between Hillcrest and Newcastle on Day 1, and 121 on the second, meaning that he'd been off schedule by just 220 seconds  in total - less than four minutes  - over the almost 700km ride on his 1936 AJS 500. 

That's sounds difficult enough, but it's actually worse when you hear that competitors aren't allowed to have working speedometers or odometers on the old bikes.

Riders calculate their positioning on the road by monitoring landmarks on the route schedule and time elapsed on their stopwatches, but working out speed is even trickier. Most count the number of lampposts or dotted white lines on the road that they pass over a timed period to estimate how fast they're travelling.

Gavin Walton is obviously pretty good at this, having won the event once before in 2009, and came second in 2010, 2014 and 2016.

The highest-placed local rider was Grant Vacy-Lyle of Hillcrest on an Arial Sloper in eighth place with 433 penalty points, while Pinetown's Aubrey Cilliers, at 74 years old in his 12th DJ on his 1936 Triumph 550cc side-valve single, came 25th with 814 points and scooped two trophies;  best Triumph and the Over 501cc prize for bikes built between 1931 and 1936.

The prize for the oldest motorcycle to complete the route went to Pietermaritzburg's Hans Coertse, who also got an award for competing for the pure joy of riding on his 1913 1039cc Matchless 7B.

Samantha Anderson of Drummond got the Hard Luck Award for the second year in a row, but this time it was less painful than 2016 when her very rare 1909 Rudge burnt out near Newcastle. This year it was magneto failure when almost within spitting distance of the finish that ruled the rebuilt Humber out.

Ralph Pitchford, winner of the 2016 DJ Rally, did not do so well this year, finishing 15th on his more powerful 1933 BSA which replaced the 1926 Triumph he rode to victory last year.

TV presenter Harry Fisher was one of the first-time riders to complete the 2017 DJ Rally. He rode a 1936 Triumph Twin. Well-known local motorsport personality Stuart Thompson takes his son, Dale, for a spin at the end of the 2017 DJ Rally. Stuart, a first-time rider, finished 48th on a 1932 Sunbeam.

Only two sidecar combinations entered the 2017 DJ Rally and both made it to the finish At the Classic Motorcycle Club in Germiston.

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Article written by Gavin Foster
17.03.2017
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