On the evening of 10 August, intrepid photographer Enrico Schoeman (55) and veteran motorsport journalist André de Kock (58) rode their Kawasaki-powered Australian sidecar through a 103,9 m-long fire tunnel to set a new (as yet unverified) world record. Proof of their triumph will be submitted to Guinness in London for ratification this week.
The current Guinness World Record for the longest motorcycle ride through a tunnel of fire is 68,49 metres, a feat achieved by Shabir Ahluwalia of India on the set of Guinness World Records in Mumbai on 13 March 2011. Schoeman and De Kock’s record-breaking run took place on the main road between Vaalwater and Ellisras, which was closed for the occasion.
Said De Kock afterwards: “We have been obsessed with this fire tunnel project for the past two years, always saying that we would stop when we reached a distance of 100 metres. That is now the case, and I am stopping while I can still walk upright.”
The South African team’s latest fire tunnel was built by Khalanga Engineering technicians, who formed the structure from square steel tubing and draped it in several layers of Lothlorien cardboard. It was then doused in diesel and petrol, and set alight via a series of pyrotechnic explosions. Once it was burning fiercely, the record-setting duo cranked the throttle rode through the inferno. Both riders and motorcycle caught fire in the process.
Said Schoeman: “Before we were halfway, I could feel I was burning, and the motorcycle was on fire… full-scale. I just kept the throttle open, aiming in the direction where I could last see the white line on the road.”
Recalled De Kock: “I could see absolutely nothing but flames, and I hoped like hell we were pointing in the right direction. As we finally exited, the night sky was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.”
Both riders suffered slight burns during their stunt, and the plastic bits on their crash helmets melted. But hey, they’re alive.
The pair successfully rode through a 73-metre fire tunnel at the same venue last year. Watch the TimesLive video from that event…