PLANNING FOR TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE AT AN ADVANCED STAGE Competitors who fear for the worst on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana from June 9 to 11 can relax. The Botswana outing is round three of this year's Absa Off Road Championship,...
PLANNING FOR TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE AT AN ADVANCED STAGE
Competitors who fear for the worst on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana from June 9 to 11 can relax.
The Botswana outing is round three of this year's Absa Off Road Championship, with the event traditionally one of the toughest on the eight-race calendar. The good news for competitors, however, is that the organisers - the Four Wheel Drive Club of Southern Africa - don't have any plans to make the race any tougher than is normally the case.
Most of the planning for the event has been completed. And, according to chief organiser Skean Drummond, there are no major surprises aimed at making life more difficult for competitors.
"The route runs in the same area as last year, and the first 35km and last 65km remain the same," Drummond added. "The rest of the route is new and, in fact, sections of the course were last used in 1998.
"There are a few refinements this year, but nothing to give competitors sleepless nights."
The event gets underway on June 9 with a 52-kilometer prologue to determine start positions for the race proper. The prologue will start at 13h00 and will provide crews with a taste of things to come over the next two days.
The first racing section on day two on June 10 will be a 460 kilometer bash from Game City, in Gaborone, to the designated Service Point ,which is now alongside the road 15km past Molepolole however the route will still be going to Mantswabisi and then back towards the Quarry north of Gaborone. The first car will be flagged away at 07h30.
Day two survivors on Sunday, 11 June will tackle the racing section in the opposite direction. The first car will be flagged off at 07h30 with the first cars expected back at the finish at Game City at around 14h00.
"Changes were made to last year's route to reduce average speeds," said Skean. "We had good feedback from competitors, and those changes remain in place.
There are a few speed restrictions in place where we go through large villages, drivers will be decontrolled at the start of the village, and the speed limit will be 40km/h until they are decontrolled at the end of the village. We have it on good authority that the local police will be monitoring the speed through these villages.
"The traditional river crossings could cause crews a few problems, and the wiser heads will exercise caution. It is always very dry at this time of year, but the bush is dense and day one will require the frontrunners to do some route clearing at times.
"The route for the Toyota 1000 Desert Race is always tough, but we have gone out of our way to try and make sure that it is also a fair one."
Skean added the event would be spectator friendly with eight good spectator points along the route. Spectators will be able to follow the route for one or two kilometres, and the spectator points are not restricted, as in the past, to road crossings.
Spectator behavior, however, will again be under close scrutiny.
"The Toyota 1000 is the biggest sports event in Botswana, and annually attracts about 80 000 local and South African enthusiasts," Skean said. "Crowd control among the fans has been a problem in the past.
"This year the Botswana police force has again offered their support by making 400 police men and women available to assist with the event and there will be strict control along the route.