Phillip Baard Impresses At Dakar Rally

A former Namibian and South African quad bike champion Phillip Baard is fast making a name for himself as a top mechanic in the motoring world.

Following the recent success of Ingo Waldschmidt when he came third at the Africa Eco Race earlier this month, Baard also impressed as a mechanic for the South African quad bike team at the Dakar Rally.

The 14-day rally stretched over 9 000km through some of the harshest conditions and terrain through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

Baard was the head mechanic for the South African quad bike team of Brian Baragwanath and Hannes Saaijman, and although Baragwanath had to retire early on, Baard helped Saaijman to finish ninth overall in his first Dakar Rally.

Baard’s mother Rene told The Namibian Sport that his mechanical services were highly sought after and that he has already been offered a job with the South African team for next year’s Dakar Rally.

“We are very proud of Phillipie and this will be a wonderful addition to his CV. The South African team has already started talking about next year’s Dakar and they want him there as a mechanic again,” she said.

“Phillipie is very methodological in his work – he strips the whole bike and goes through everything, it does not matter how long it takes. He is a perfectionist and that’s the secret to his success. He provides good backup and his team mates know they can always rely on him,” she said.

Phillip and his brother Dirkie Baard both excelled at quad bike racing and both are former Namibian and South African champions.

Dirkie won the Namibian championship in 2008 and the South African championships in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 Dirkie went to race in the United States and Phillip won the South African championship for the first time.

Both brothers have since retired from competitive racing although Phillip continues to work as a mechanic in his spare time.

At the Dakar Rally, Baragwanath’s engine broke on the first stage and he had to be towed in. The following day he had tyre problems and damaged his rim and eventually had to withdraw from the rally.

Saaijman however continued and improved as the rally progressed. Besides finishing ninth overall, he won the final stage while he also won the First Timer’s class.

Saaijman said the Dakar was particularly unkind to the quad bike riders as they were exposed to the elements, while the cars and trucks had the luxury of air-conditioning and protection from the cold.

“The biggest thing that got to me on the Dakar was the natural elements. I started getting frost bite on my nose, it was minus five then it started to rain where we had to travel 600km for a race stage to Bolivia,” the South African Press Association quoted Saaijman as saying.

“I nearly died, it was extremely cold and about 30 guys had pulled out of the race due to hypothermia,” he added.

However, Saaijman cherished the moments where scores of locals lined the route in support of the riders and drivers.

“There are many happy moments, but what really stands out are all the spectators, you won’t believe how many people come to watch the rally,” he said.

“There were parts of Argentina where you didn’t even need your road book with people lining the route for hundreds of kilometres.”

Source : The Namibian