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ABSA 2009: Tougher than ever Toyota Desert Race in South Africa.

A tougher than ever Toyota 1000 Desert Race is the daunting prospect facing competitors on the 2009 Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round four of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, in Botswana from June 19 to 21. The event marks the halfway mark in this year’s national championship and, while competitors face a tough weekend, it is a challenge they will relish. The Toyota 1000 Desert Race is the only long distance event on the calendar, and is regarded by the off road fraternity as the Comrade Marathon of the Absa series.

"The route once again takes in the usual thick sand, rivers and riverbeds, thorn trees and passes through some remote areas of the Kalahari," said Clerk of the Course Skean Drummond. The race is again being organised by the 4 Wheel Drive Club of South Africa with an army of helpers swinging into action.

"While the route goes into some remote areas it also takes in more popular locations like Mantswabisi, Hatsalatladi, Kumakwani, Medie and Metsemotlhabe," said Drummond. "By way of contrast from sand and more sand there are also a number of rocky sections that will test crews to the limit. "It is going to be tough, but that is what the Toyota 1000 Desert Race is all about."

The event will again have its headquarters at the Game City complex in Gaborone. Documentation will be held on Friday, June 19 before the start of the 70 kilometre prologue to determine start positions for the race proper. Drummond said the prologue was "an extremely tight, twisty and bumpy section of approximately 70 km finishing near the village of Gabane." A short section of back roads will take competitors back to Game City.

The race will start at 08:00 on Saturday, June 20 with a great deal of pomp and ceremony at Game City with a grueling section taking crews in a north westerly direction to the Mascom DSP (designated service park). There is a compulsory 15 minutes de-control at the DSP and from there competitors will head to Malwewe.

From Malwewe there is some high speed driving before cars turn south and tackle a tight section towards the Mascom DSP. Cars will remain at the DSP overnight with the Sunday, June 21 start a short distance away from the overnight halt.

The first section of the route on the final day will see cars complete a loop that will circle back to the Mascom DSP for a compulsory 15 minute de-control. The survivors will then set out on the final section which takes competitors back to Game City - and frontrunners will be mindful of the fact that the event is often won and lost in the last 100 kilometres.

"Competitors look forward to the challenge the Toyota 1000 Desert Race offers," said Drummond. "While it is obviously going to be tough on men and machinery we have done our best to come up with a route that is varied and interesting. I think we have succeeded but the Toyota 1000 Desert Race is a unique event that over the years has taken on the mantle of the flagship race in the Absa championship."

2009/06/01 | 18:37 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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