GABORONE, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) — Botswana’s 50-year-old Okavango Motor Club rider, James Alexander, has qualified for Dakar Rally to be held in January 2021.

After three years of thorough preparations, Alexander said in an interview in Maun, northwestern Botswana, that he is thrilled by the challenge on Friday.

Alexander, who is mentored by local rider Ross Branch, has qualified for the Malle Motto Single or unsupported category at the Dakar Rally. The 12-staged race is expected to commence on Jan. 3 and end on Jan. 15, 2021.

He said the category would comprise 36 competitors. “It is a strict race, as we are not only riding but also navigating through difficult terrain, coupled with breakdowns and repairs of the bikes along the way. It will be an experience to me as a rookie,” Alexander said.

Despite being a beginner on a highly competitive stage, Alexander is confident that the training he has been going through under the tutelage of the experienced Branch will be helpful.

Alexander, who has been living in the southern African country for over 28 years, said his experience in racing started at the age of 16, in neighboring Zimbabwe.

“I have done both motorbikes and bicycle races. But bicycle ride remains my favorite,” he said. Alexander’s focus on the Dakar Rally started in 2017.

“I developed a serious interest in the rally in 2017, taking part in the off-road series in Botswana that goes across the country, followed by the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Selebi Phikwe in 2019. But I still maintained my love, which is cycling,” he says.

Alexander’s friend, Chris McIntyre, is satisfied with his acquaintance’s preparations for the Dakar Rally.

“He vigorously trained through mountain biking, through the open land and the bush. Alexander has experience in racing high-speed cars and motorbikes. Two years ago, I advised him to do Dakar Rally,” says McIntyre.

North West assistant district commissioner Ramogaupi Gaborekwe said that it takes courage and determination for someone to represent the district and the country at a world-class event.

Gaborekwe wished Alexander well in his endeavor and thanked the Okavango Motor Club for giving their rider the much-needed support.