A whiff of paradise for petrolheads

CT RACE DONE INLSA LUV YA! Deon Gerber hugs PD van der Westhuizen who holds the top speed for a bike. The two modified the Suzuki Hyabusa.

Staff Writer

THE founder of Kalahari Desert Speedweek, Jan Els, wanted the 200 petrolheads taking part in the speed tests at Hakskeen Pan this week to experience a desert wind at least once.

“But yesterday we had a wind so strong it tore our big marquee to pieces. I said I hope the wind comes up so the guys can experience it, but it was a disaster. It was our own marquee, where all the meals and entertainment is, so we had to hire a new one from Upington.

“It blew into the kitchen and everything was full of dust. The dust is so thick when the wind blows like that you have to put your vehicle lights on. It gets into everything, into your ears,” Els said yesterday.

When they eventually got the new tent up, the blue grass band resumed and the bar didn’t close all night.

The speedweek event, the first in Africa and only the third in the world, ends on Sunday. It is being staged at the same pan where Andy Green will attempt to break the world land speed record in 2014. Speed trials for the event begin next year.

CT Speedweek DONE MAIN MAN: Jan Els, the man who dreamed up the Kalahari Desert Speedweek, drives his bike across the pan at sunset. The speedweek event, the first in Africa and only the third in the world, ends on Sunday. INLSA

By late yesterday no one had managed to break the 308km/h speed record for a car clocked by Greg Parton of Durban in his R6.2 million Lamborghini Aventador.

“There are other Lamborghinis here, but I don’t think anyone will break it. Maybe, but I doubt it.

“Driving on the pan is not as fast as on tar, because there’s not the traction. Next year we’re going to have a new track and it will be better and faster,” Els said.

The top speed for a normally aspirated bike so far is held by PD van der Westhuizen, who hit 307km/h.

“Aspirated means not a turbo-charged bike.”

There is some time to kill between speed tests, but Els says this is no hardship for participants, even stuck out in the desert kilometres from nowhere.

CT RACE3 DONE HOTROD: Marshals in shimmering heatwaves watch the Birkin speed across the pan. The vehicle was built by students from Emang Mmogo School in Kimberley INLSA

“There’s always a festive atmosphere because this is an event by petrolheads for petrolheads, so no one gets bored.”

Els commissioned an environmental officer to do a study for the Northern Cape government, to satisfy them that the event would not cause damage.

“He even sent soil samples to Abu Dhabi to have it tested because it never has been done before. He’s also a petrolhead. Collects classic Porsches.”

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