Fresh challenges on new route for Botswana 1000 Desert Race

  • Botswana’s biggest sport/social event of the year
  • Includes round of the Dakar Challenge
  • Some teams can win free entry to real Dakar

From CHARMAINE FORTUNE

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MAKING A SPLASH: Dakar veteran driver Leeroy Poulter will be racing in the 2017 Botswana Desert Race with Rob Howie. Image: NADIA JORDAAN

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – With 80% of the 2017 route virgin territory competitors on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race from June 23-25 will face additional challenges on an event that always brings Botswana to a standstill.

The biggest sporting and social event in Botswana will be Round 3 of the South African Cross Country Series championship and Rounds 3 and 4 of the Moto championship. And all that will be rounded out by two rounds of the Botswana Motorsport championship over June 24/25.

The race will include a round of the Dakar Challenge, run in conjunction with several global cross-country races. The winner of each round of the challenge will be invited to race in Dakar 2018, entry fees waived.

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WHO NEEDS FOR WHEELS? Another Toyota Hilux will be crewed by Giniel de Villiers and Denis Murphy. Image: NADIA JORDAAN

This year’s Dakar Challenge will have five rounds, three dedicated to motorcycles, two for cars. Toyota’s sponsorship of the Dakar Challenge, as part of the Desert Race, opens the door for privateer competitors to compete on the Dakar at greatly reduced cost.

GOOD RAIN, NEW ROUTE

The Botswana event will again be based in Jwaneng, home of the world’s largest diamond mine, as the only marathon event on the SACCS calendar. The area has had recent good rain so the route will and twist and turn on sandy through long grass and dense scrub.

Route director Adri Roets said: “What we have are typical Desert Race conditions. With tremendous co-operation from the various land boards in the area we managed to identify a route that is drastically different to that of 2016.

“The only constants are the challenges competitors will face – and the race is famous for providing a sting in its tail.”

The course is made up of south and east loops of about 210km each and be repeated twice over June 24/25. Auto championship crews will complete a 70km qualifying race to determine start positions. Moto competitors will face a 45km time trial on the Friday, June 23.

TRAFFIC CONTROL A PRIORITY

Roets again: “As in previous years there will be spectator-friendly with numerous vantage points. Trafffic volumes will be high, given the high priority the Motswana place on the race so enthusiasts are urged to exercise extreme caution.”

The Botswana police will again mount a huge traffice-control campaign.

Race headquarters, the start/finish, and the service park will all be at the Jwaneng Sports Club and adjoining showground. Public access to these areas will be restricted but there will be no charge at spectator points.

RACING SCHEDULE

The Moto Time Trial will start at 11am on June 23, qualifying for Auto at 1pm. Heats one and two of the race on June 25 and June 26 will start at 7am for motorcycles/quads and at 8.15am for cars.

Crosscountry enthusiasts can follow the race from home or office on all three days via the RallySafe app for Apple and Android devices. The app can be downloaded free and will have have maps, times and results.

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