By Roger Houghton

A field of 80 classic motorcycles will contest the 2024 iTOO DJ Rally from Durban to Johannesburg on March 15-16.

The average age of the motorcycles is 92 years as they all need to have been made before 1937 to qualify for the event, which commemorates the annual road race between the two cities which took place from 1913 to 1936.

Hollard’s preferred insurance underwriters, iTOO, are the headline sponsors of the DJ Rally for the second year.

This year’s entry includes 10 first timers, which is good news for the sustainability of this rally, while a record five women riders have entered. One of them, Sasha Corlett, is also the youngest rider, at 28, while the oldest is 87-year-old Cliff le Roux. Sasha will be riding a 1936 500 cc BSA, while Clifford will be mounted on 1936 500 cc AJS. Both are taking part in the DJ Rally for the first time.

The Corlett’s have a proud DJ Rally history, with Sasha’s grandfather, George, having won the DJ in 1981 and her father, Mark, won twice, in 1986 and 1988. Both her father, who is now known as Geroge Corlett after the passing of George Snr, and mother, Valerie will be riding in this year’s DJ Rally. George is riding a 1928 500 cc Norton and Valerie a 1928 500 cc BSA. The three Corletts have consecutive numbers with Sasha on 43, Valerie on 44 and George on 45.

The oldest motorcycle in the field is a 1918 1 000 cc Indian Power Plus to be ridden by Yuvi Jasti.

This will be the 52nd running of this regularity trial which requires to riders to stick as close as possible to set average speeds. The rally starts at 06:00 on March 15 from the Hillcrest Corner shopping centre outside Durban and finishes the next afternoon at the Benoni Northern Club, with the first competitor due just after 15:00. There will be an overnight stop in Newcastle after refuelling stops in Pietermaritzburg, Mooi River, Estcourt and Ladysmith. The second day’s run starts from Newcastle at 07:30 and there are refuelling stops at Volksrust, Standerton and Balfour before the finish in Benoni.

The winner is presented with one of the most famous sporting trophies in South Africa, the silver Schlesinger Vase, which was made in London and awarded to the winner of the second DJ race in 1914 by New York-born Issy Schlesinger. At the time he was chairman of the Johannesburg Motorcycle Club, which organised the early events and changed its name to the Rand Motoring Club in 1934. Schlesinger is best known as the head of the African Theatres cinema chain which produced the popular African Mirror newsreel for many years. The winner this year will also get a miniature of the trophy as a permanent keepsake after this became part of the reward for the winner at the end of last year’s rally.

There are four previous winners of the rally in the field this year and all are undoubtedly keen to add to their tally of victories. They are Mark (now George Jnr) Corlett in 1986 and 1988, Gavin Walton (2009, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022), Martin Davis (2006, 2007, 2011) and Mike Ward (2004 and 2023).

The DJ commemorative rally is organised by a team from several local motorcycle clubs under the auspices of the promoter, the Vintage sand Veteran Club of South Africa. Tom Linley, a true classic motorcycle enthusiast, is clerk of the course of the rally for the first time this year. His father, John, was a DJ winner in 1981 and 1994.

Hillcrest Corner invites the public to view these impressive vintage motorcycles, they will be on display on the 14Th March 2024, from 9am to 5pm. No entry fee for the public to view.

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