This year’s Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, which takes place in Botswana on June 11-13, features something for competitors and spectators alike.
Officials of the Four Wheel Drive Club of Southern Africa have spent considerable time in recent weeks laying out a new route that will provide man and machine with a true test of endurance and durability and offer spectators numerous opportunities to see the action up close.
In a departure from tradition the Toyota 1000 Desert Race will start and finish in Gaborone on each day with crews staying overnight at their hotels and campsites rather than in the bush at Mantshwabisi.
The Toyota 1000 Desert Race will be run over three days with the 45-kilometre Prologue getting underway at 12h00 on Friday, June 11 at Game City. The route for the Prologue features some fast sections intermingled with technical sections that include rocky terrain, river crossings and thick sand and it will be crucial for crews to post a good time if they want to avoid driving in someone else’s dust.
The race proper starts at Game City in Gaborone at 08h00 on Saturday, June 12 with crews heading for the designated service point at Mantshwabisi via, in most part, the same route as last year, which includes rocky koppies, dongas, river crossings, sand and thicker bush than normal due to unseasonal rain in the region. There are a number of spectator points along this section including an optional service point. The route is entirely new from the designated service point at Mantshwabisi to the overnight stop at Botswana Motorsport in Gaborone and includes varied terrain as well as an optional service point. The first motor vehicle is expected at Botswana Motorsport’s facility at 15h00.
The final day sees crews complete the route in the opposite direction with the event re-starting at 08h00 at Botswana Motorsport in Gaborone. Following a brief pit stop at Mantshwabisi the surviving crews will have only another 250 kilometres to go before the finish at Game City in Gaborone where the winner is expected to arrive at 14h00.
A few spectator points have been identified on the Prologue route with the most popular expected to be at the start and finish, while eleven spectator points on the main route should keep spectators entertained for hours. The spectator points at Livingstone Bridge, the optional service point just off the Molepolole – Thamaga road, the designated service point at Mantshwabisi, the optional service point on the Molepolole – Lephepe road, the Mochudi bridge and the railway line near the overnight stop at Botswana Motorsport are expected, in true Toyota 1000 Desert Race tradition, to attract thousands of spectators for what is widely regarded as Botswana’s biggest sporting event.
“The cooperation between the two clubs and the authorities has been excellent and the Botswana Police have assured us that adequate steps will be taken to control traffic and minimise congestion on the roads,” said Race Director, Bill Viljoen. “Exuberant spectators have previously made the going a little tough for service crews, media and the general public but the crowd control plan we intend implementing should alleviate most of these problems.”