“Branch is the Kalahari Ferrari, I’m the Kalahari Madala (old man)”
James Alexander has two loves: his nation Botswana and its Okavango Delta and bikes, and both are actually linked. Born in Zimbabwe, a bike trip back in 1992 took him to Botswana and he never left. Owner of a construction company, his life turns around motorsports and endurance events. Having completed two Ironman triathlons, he certainly has the physical assets to now compete in the Dakar, a rally that he followed as a child back in the eighties, before actually going to see the event when it left Lisbon in 2007. At 50 years of age, time has come for Alexander to give it a go. The words of his Botswana friend and mentor Ross Branch (stage winner on the Dakar last year) are probably what gave him the confidence and pushed him to go for it. For his first appearance, he’s decided to register in the Original by Motul class with no assistance on his KTM prepared by Bas Dakar. While Branch is now part of the Yamaha factory team and is known as the Kalahari Ferrari, James and his big white beard has his own nickname: the Kalahari Madala (old man in Zulu).
“I started racing in enduro when I was 17. I’ve been a biker all my life basically. I really got back into it when I started teaching my son. I own nine bikes from off-road to Superbike models. My parents were actually in horses and showjumping but it wasn’t for me. Coming from and endurance background and also because it’s more affordable, I decided to register in the Original by Motul category. It’s the real Dakar. I build my own bikes and do all the maintenance so it shouldn’t be an issue on the Dakar.
Botswana has a fantastic riding territory and we seem to have some good riders. I met Ross Branch five years ago and he’s been a real Dakar encyclopedia for me. He’s had a huge impact. When he told me: “you’re good enough”, it really boosted me to go. He’s the Kalahara Ferrari, I’m the Kalahari Madala. We have two different levels. I represent the average rider.
Doing well at the Kalahari Botswana 1000 in 2019 made it an even bigger reality. I realised that I had to go. I think it’s also due to my real love for two wheels. Whatever their origins, people who ride bikes are great people. They have a good outlook on life and the Dakar is a perfect example of that: living life at the fullest. Of course I’m a late comer at 50 but my fitness is great. I’m a racer so I won’t be taking it easy but I’m not going to take ridiculous risks.”
THE KALAHARI MADALA
- Mark : YAMAHA
- Model : WR450F
- Performance tuner : Bas Dakar
- Assistance : Original by Motul
- Class : G2.2 Marathon
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