I got a call from my good friend Gary Franks, owner of the popular magazine Enduro World, to ask if I would like to join him and his team testing the latest and greatest, full spec KTM 450 Rallye Dakar racing motorcycle. It was going to be entered in the 2017 Dakar event in South America – the most arduous, mentally challenging and physically demanding motorcycle race on planet Earth. What a question?
The rider would be paraplegic Joey Evans who was told that he would never walk again after a really bad crash a couple of years back. Joey has made a superhuman effort to overcome the paralysis and associated challenges from this terrible blow that life handed him. He is a phenomenal ambassador and role model for the sport and for all of us to look up to and to be really thankful for our good health.
Joey had just received the factory spec bike from Darryl Curtis, South African Enduro legend, so Darryl and Dave Petersen from Two Wheels joined us to test this dream machine and to give Joey as much support as we can to source funding and sponsors for his incredible attempt to finish the 2017 Dakar.
The other surprise boy’s toy that arrived was Gary’s brand new DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter or drone as most people call them. This is the most technologically advanced consumer drone in the world and, if the specs and claims made by DJI were to be believed, we were in for some impressive performance and features as we used this new aerial filming platform to record Joey and Darryl showing us what the equally world class KTM could do on a flat pan, as well as some steep and challenging hills on the mine dumps just outside Johannesburg here in South Africa.
The Phantom 4 has been equipped with some brilliant new technology that enables it to detect, avoid and fly around or over obstacles that would otherwise have caused it to crash, and to see this working was amazing. There are two sensors in the front of its body shell that detect obstacles and stop it in mid air before it hits the offending tree or powerline. It will then fly over or around the obstacle and continue its flight path.
The other feature that is a step ahead is the FOLLOW ME function which now uses GPS to lock onto a subject and follow it without requiring a receiver dongle on the person or bike or whatever is being tracked. Fantastic stuff! The new drone from DJI has been upgraded in all areas and really is a pleasure to fly with little or no fear of crashing, getting lost or flying into things that would have destroyed earlier models. The price is around R30,000 plus spare batteries and the like, an absolute steal when one considers what you are getting.
All in all, it was a great day with some truly special people and the latest tech available to man 🙂