Motorsport: Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race
With 80 percent of this year’s route virgin territory competitors on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race from June 23 to 25 will face additional challenges on an event that annually brings Botswana to a standstill.
The biggest sporting and social event in Botswana is round three of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) Auto championship and rounds three and four of the Moto championship. A busy weekend of motor racing is rounded out by two rounds of the Botswana Motorsport championship on June 24 and 25.
The race also includes a round of the prestigious Dakar Challenge, run in conjunction with several global cross-country races. The winner of each round of the challenge is invited to take part in Dakar 2018, with their entry fees waived as reward.
This year’s Dakar Challenge consists of five rounds, with three dedicated to motorcycles, and two catering 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 Rally at a vastly reduced cost.
The race is again based in Jwaneng, home of the world’s largest diamond mine operated by Debswana, and is the only marathon event on the SACCS calendar. The area has had recent good rains and the twisty and sandy track winds its way through long grass and dense scrub.
“In other words what we have are typical Desert Race conditions,” said route director Adri Roets. “With tremendous co-operation from the various land boards in the area we managed to identify a route that is drastically altered from last year.
“The only constants are the challenges competitors will face and the race is famous for providing a sting in the tail.”
The course is made up of south and east loops of approximately 210 kilometres which will each be repeated twice on June 24 and 25. Auto championship crews will complete a 70 kilometre qualifying race to determine grid positions, and Moto competitors a 45 kilometre time trial on Friday, June 23.
“As with previous years the route is spectator friendly and there are numerous vantage points where enthusiasts can follow their favourites,” said Roets. “Given the high priority the people of Botswana place on the race traffic volumes will be high, and enthusiasts are urged to exercise extreme caution.”
The Botswana Police Service will again mount a massive campaign to control traffic and crowds that flock to vantage points and the overnight camping areas.
“Once again we cannot fault the co-operation we have had from the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Tourist Organisation (BTO), the Jwaneng Town Council, Debswana and the Botswana Motorsport authority,” said SACCS chief executive officer Archie Rutherford. “Without the enthusiastic help these organisations provide it would be impossible to organise what is a weekend of world class motorsport.”
Rutherford added that over the race weekend cross country enthusiasts from South Africa, and neighbouring countries flocked to Botswana. Co-operation from immigration and customs officials smoothed the way for a pleasant weekend away from home.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be located at the Jwaneng Sports Club and adjoining showground facility. Public access to these areas is restricted but there is no charge at viewing sites along the route.
The Moto Time Trial will start at 11:00 on June 23 with the Qualifying Race for Auto at 13:00. Heats one and two of the race on June 25 and on June 26 will start at 07:00 for motorcycles/quads and at 08:15 for cars.
Cross country enthusiasts can also 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 of charge and makes use of maps, times and results to keep fans constantly up to date.