BMW April 2022

Gavin Walton scored his fifth overall win on the DJ Rally for pre-1937 motorcycles on March 11-12. This year’s win follows victories in 2009, 2017, 2018, and 2019. 

This was the 51st regularity trial for motorcycles that would have been eligible for the road race between Durban and Johannesburg, which was staged between 1913 and 1936. Riders are required to stick as closely as possible to average speeds set by the organisers and are penalised for early or late arrival at the control points, with the data being collected by the electronic loggers carried by each rider. 

The 2022 edition of the DJ had attracted an entry of more than 100 riders. The 700 km course from the start in Hillcrest, outside Durban, on the Friday to the finish at the Benoni Northern Club the next day followed the general route of the original road race. The 2022 rally took its usual toll on the old machinery with only 58 of the 84 starters being classified as official finishers of the two-day event.

Walton, who says this year’s win was the toughest of his five, rode to victory on his trusty 1936 500cc AJS once again. He has only ridden one other motorcycle on the DJ and that was a 1929 500cc OHV Ariel loaned to him by Hew Hollard for his first DJ in 2005. Walton not only won overall, with 228 penalty points, but also had the lowest score on Day 1, from Durban to Newcastle, and the third lowest score on the second day, from the overnight stop to the finish in Benoni.

Walton, who retired from the synthetic diamond manufacturing industry in 2015, now concentrates on restoring classic motorcycles and running his business in Springs retailing replacement parts for British motorcycles. 

Gavin Walton’s brother, Kevin, also kept the family flag flying high with a fine fourth overall on a 1931 500cc BSA. Kevin was also fourth on Day 1 and fifth on Day 2 as well as winning his class in his BSA’s age category.

Second overall was Mike Ward on a 1935 500cc Velocette, who had won the DJ in 2004 and is usually at the sharp end of an extremely competitive field. Martin Kaiser took third place on a 1935 500cc Sunbeam. Competition was tight with only 238 seconds separating Walton in first place from Neville Nicolau and Samantha Anderson who share ninth position.

The entry of South Africa’s two MotoGP riders, brothers Brad and Darryn Binder, attracted a great deal of public interest. This was the second successive year that they have competed in the DJ Rally, and they have completed the course on each occasion. This year Darryn finished 21st on a 1936 500cc Ariel, with Brad taking 45th spot on a 1935 500cc Sunbeam. 

Their father, Trevor, a DJ Rally regular, had to retire during the first day due to a problem with the rear brake of his 1925 600cc Indian, Repairs were carried out in Newcastle, and he rode the second day with his sons, putting up an impressive performance, collecting only 357 penalty points on Day 2.

Unfortunately for the large crowd at the finish in Benoni the Moto GP duo made a fairly quick exit after reaching the final control as they did not want undue exposure to possible Covid-19 infection before flying out to their next race in Indonesia. They did manage to meet and greet some fans and signed memorabilia for them before leaving.