If anyone was bred for motorcycling, then it was Dave McBride. His father was an avid road racer from Northern Ireland who carried on competing when the family emigrated to Australia in the late 1960's.
Dave began riding at the tender age of five and hasn't looked back since. He cut his teeth riding around the farms of South Australia and continued his obsession on two wheels when he arrived in the UAE in the late 1970's.
Dave’s competitive motorcycling career was launched in the autumn of 1983 when local company, GAC sponsored him for two seasons. With regular top three finishes Dave was fifth overall in his opening season and third the year after that in the open championship. This continued regularly until late 1992, when he hung up his competitive boots to ride socially on the weekends in the wide-open spaces of the UAE desert.
It wasn't until the summer of 1996, when he was invited to ride in the UAE-based Alert team that those competitive boots came back off the shelf.
It was the first UAE Desert Challenge to include privateer motorcycle entries and astride a very standard Honda XR600 Dave managed to mix it up with a few of the factory teams, finishing a credible seventh overall. The next 23 years stands as testament to his skills as a desert rider with regular top 10 placements in UAE off-road series, ADDC and other international events.
Dave has flown the UAE flag at the Roof of Africa, Botswana Toyota 1000, Chilean and Moroccan CCR, coming home with top ten finishes and bragging rights.
Yet the ultimate goal for any off-road rider, the Dakar Rally, is still to be realised. News that the world’s most famous motor endurance race is to be held in Saudi Arabia in 2020 brings with it renewed hope that Dave, alongside his Vendetta Racing teammates, can line up for the most challenging rally raid on the planet.
Originally from Portsmouth in England, long-time Dubai resident, David Mabbs has competed in cross-country racing for more than 20 years on both four wheels and two.
He spent a decade racing prototype cars to many podium finishes in the FIA cross-country world championship and contested the Desert Challenge nine times in the 4x4 car category, achieving an outright class victory, top five overall rankings and was renowned for consistently challenging world champion factory drivers, missing outright stage victories by the narrowest of margins.
Switching to two wheels in 2013, Dave has competed in most rounds of the FIM cross-country world championship including Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Chile & Morocco. In 2019 he took on the challenge of the Africa Eco Race, which traces the original Dakar route and finished ninth in class.
Now with the possibility of a shot at the 2020 Dakar Rally looming large just over the border in Saudi Arabia, Dave is contemplating the realisation of a lifetime’s ambition and the biggest test of his racing career to date.
Born and raised in Cheshire in the UK, Tom moved over to the UAE in 2009 and quickly began to explore the UAE’s great outdoors. Regularly getting his fix of adrenaline by dune bashing in 4x4s for the first few years, it wasn’t quite enough. Following in his friends’ footsteps, he decided to try and tackle the UAE sand dunes on a dirt bike.
Tom hadn’t ever ridden a motorbike before saddling up for the first time in the UAE desert in 2014 but was a fast learner and quickly became accustomed to reading the dunes at speed along with handling a motorbike in the sand. The next logical step was to enter into the local Baja championships to test his skills against other more experienced riders.
Since then, Tom has finished well in many of the local Baja events over the years along with the Dubai International Bajas with many podium finishes.
Son of David, very young and a bit ginger
Steve Blackney began his motorcycle obsession when he moved to Dubai in 1982, but it was already part of his pedigree thanks to a father and grandfather who rode bikes and raced grasstrack back as far as the 1950s.
Dubai in the early 1980's proved a great place for desert riding and Moto Cross and pretty soon Steve graduated from Junior Champion, all the way up to the big league, ultimately winning the Gulf Championship nine times and earning racing sponsorship deals with Honda and KTM.
Moto Cross paved the way to longer distance off-road desert racing where he won two off-road Championships aboard the fearsome Honda CR500 and the even mightier Honda XR650 before looking for new racing goals.
Bigger offroad challenges soon presented themselves, prompting corresponding bank loans. Steve competed in the World Championship Rally Raid series where he competed in a total of 10 UAE Desert Challenge Rallies, with a highest finish of 3rd outright in 2001, and made four attempts at the fearsome nine-day Australian Safari Rally, netting a best overall finish of 7th against very high-profile competition.
Once the sand had settled, Steve switched his attention to Superbike road racing, basically learning everything from Vendetta Team Principal, Alan Boyter, until successful participation in the UAE 600 and 1000 Sportsbike series grew into dreams of conquering the legendary Isle of Man. A few seasons of racing in the UK Endurance Championships and many, many hours of watching on-board laps of the TT later, Steve was ready to take Vendetta Racing to the Manx GP in 2010 and again in 2012 with an ultimate fastest lap of 109 MPH average on the TT circuit.
Steve will not be joining the Vendetta campaign for Dakar 2020. Instead he has committed to take Vendetta racing on a different adventure, signing up for the famous Gotland Grand National Enduro in Sweden later this year. There he will switch sand and sun for a 26km circuit of the worst, deepest and most clingy, freezing mud, providing a brand new test of his racing skill.