|ABSA 2010: 29th Anniversary of Toyota Kalahari Botswana 100 Desert Race.|
One of the longest running sponsorships in South African motorsport continues to flourish with the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Botswana this year celebrating its 29th anniversary.
This year’s event from September 24 to 26 will be round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, with race headquarters moving from the Game City complex in Gaborone to Kumakwane which is 25 kilometres north west of the Botswana capital. The organisers of the race, the Four Wheel Drive Club of SA, decided on the change because of heavy congestion over weekends at Game City.
The race was run for the first time in 1975and until 1979 was known as the Total Trans Kalahari Road Race. The race quickly carved a niche for itself on the South African motorsport calendar and in 1980 was run with backing from IGI.
Toyota took over sponsorship of the race in 1981. Between 1981 and 1990 the Toyota 1000 Desert Race was run in the Vryburg area and moved to Botswana in 1991.
Toyota South Africa first made inroads into the local vehicle market in 1961 as a supplier of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV). The company now offers a comprehensive range of passenger cars as well as medium and heavy trucks, but the LCV market remains the backbone of Toyota's ongoing success.
Proving the Hilux and Land Cruiser range of bakkies in the demanding world of off road racing was a natural progression for Toyota in the 1980's. Since the early days of racing "farm" bakkies to the more specialised production vehicles that compete today, Toyota has continued to support off road racing.
From 1981 to 1991 the rules made provision only for overall winners to be declared in events. In 1992 the then Motorsport SA Off Road Commission decided to split the championship into Special Vehicle and Production Vehicle categories - with overall winners recognised in each category.
"Toyota was a keen supporter of plans to move the Toyota 10000 Desert Race to Botswana in 1991," said Toyota South Africa president and chief executive Dr Johan van Zyl. "Botswana is a very important market for Toyota, and we have a retail market share of more than 40 percent. "Our dealers refer to Botswana as Toyota territory, and the importance of our brand awareness in this market and in Southern Africa in general, is one of the reasons we have continued to support the Toyota 1000 Desert Race for nearly 30 years."
This year’s race opens with the 72 kilometre Donaldson Prologue at 12:00 on Friday, September 24 to determine grid positions. The race will start at Kumakwane at 08:00 on Saturday, September 25 with day one survivors facing another 08:00 start on Sunday, September 26.
2010/09/16| 11:10 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS/FORTUNE