Some local motorcycle racers claim to have been unfairly sidelined by organisers of a recent national off-road motorcycle race event that took place in Francistown over the weekend.
The riders - licensed under Botswana Motorsport (BMS) - report that they were not allowed to take part in the highly anticipated 200 km quad bike category at the event held at Thabayankwe near northern city. “We were not given a chance to race in Francistown but this was a point-scoring race in the BMS calendar for this year. This has happened even after we fulfilled our insurance obligations to be able to compete,” said Motsumi Lekone of the Gaborone Motor Club (GMC). But Lola Berrie of the Lobelo Racing Club, the hosts of the Saturday race, said the quad bike loop was cancelled because of safety concerns.
“The loop that was marked out for the quad bikes was not safe. Some of the bikes would have been stuck and accidents plus a traffic jam would have occurred,” Berrie said. In fact, Berrie who also acted as the Clerk of the Course during the race added that affiliates had been told two weeks earlier that the quad loop was cancelled two weeks before the race.
Only the two-wheeler riders competed. She added that there was a dangerous section that went up to a 90-degree angle that would have seen quad bikes tipping over when crossing the river. “We did not want the racers to come all the way to Francistown and not be able to compete.” The rest of the event, she said, was successful with close racing between the riders who completed 200km in four hours.
BMS president Simon Modisaeman also confirmed knowledge regarding the issue of the quad bikes. He said: “The route was assessed and it was agreed that it will be dangerous for the quads to run there. It was not supposed to happen like that. Lobelo explained and apologised for the problem.” Modisaeman denied that there was any act of sabotage as some may perceive it. He added: “We are waiting for GMC to formally raise that concern so that the organisers can respond. As a committee we will see how we agree on the points that could have been gained from the race. It was just an isolated incident.”
Meanwhile, Modisaeman said the BMS calendar was going well with other racing events lined up for the year. However, he conceded that they had problems insuring their riders earlier in the year, which is a provision for both the FIM and the FIA. Modisaeman said they have since reached an agreement with two local insurance companies and a South African under writer on the matter.