Multitudes of motorsport enthusiasts are gearing up for the country’s most popular motorsport event – Toyota Kalahari 1000km Desert race – which takes place in Selibe-Phikwe on June 21-23, 2019.
Ranked among the biggest motorsport events in the southern African region, the event has attracted a great following each year from even as far as South America. As per norm the three-day event organised by South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), Botswana Motor Sport (BMS) and Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) will once again entail the production vehicle category, motorcycles and quad bikes.
As the round three of the South African Cross Country Series, the event also serves as a qualifier to the grueling Dakar Rally which means winners stand a chance to make it to the 2020 edition in Peru.
However all eyes will be on last year’s winners Giniel de Villers of the Toyota Gazoo Racing team and local rider Ross Branch who will once again be willing to maintain their dominance in the race. Toyota – unbeaten since 2012 – will be looking to extend their dominance.
The only difference this time around is that competitors will be testing a new unknown terrain of Central district which will provide a stern test for them. The final route of the race is expected to be released on the week before the race in order to avoid compromising the competition.
Speaking in an interview with this publication, BMS president Kagiso Modibedi said they are ready to kick-off the race since everything is in place. BMS is mostly responsible for organising the motorcycle category.
“Basically everything is arranged. We have concluded everything at this point in time like, road surveys and assessments well in time. The route is also done. In this edition we are expecting close 20 motorbikes and 30 quad bikes which bring our numbers to 50 for our possible entries,” said Modibedi.
For a very long time the production motor vehicle category has been controlled and ran by SACCS crew, however most pundits have been urging BMS to pull up their socks and fully take charge of the race. According to Modibedi, it is impossible since the race belongs to SACCS but rather Botswana will have to establish its own event as time goes on.
“It is not like we are doing nothing, SAACS has its own team of people whom they use to officiate and organise the event because this is their competition. And having one team is important because it brings consistency in running the race. As BMS, we normally send shadow officials to officiate with the South African team such that they learn and gain necessary experience. When the time comes we will be able to host our own cross country series,” said Modibedi.
BTO spokesperson Samuel Lephalo said the time is now.
“We are set for the event but change always brings challenges. Since we were moving from Jwaneng to Phikwe we had to work on a lot of induction of various stakeholders but hopefully next year it should be easy. We are also working on rolling out our activations in Gaborone and Phikwe on the 15th of June such that we pass our safety message to the spectators and the public at large,” he said.
BR offers transport
Meanwhile Botswana Railways has commissioned a Selibe-Phikwe bound train to transport fans to the Toyota Desert Race. The train will leave Lobatse on Friday the 21st June and leave Phikwe on Sunday the 23rd June at 1600hrs. BR delivers The Rail to The Toyota Desert Race, in conjunction with Botswana Tourism Organisation SPEDU Selibe-Phikwe Town Council Mascom BMS and SACCS.