|ABSA 2011: SA´s Toyota 1000 Desert Race celebrates 30th anniversary.|
The South African Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana from June 24 to 26 this year celebrates its 30th anniversary - and never has the pressure on the Team Castrol Toyota factory team been more intense. The event is one of the longest running sponsorships in South African motorsport with Toyota taking over sponsorship of the race in 1981. The race was first run in 1975 as the Total Trans Kalahari Road Race and between 1981 and 1990 was based in Vryburg.
The race moved to Botswana in 1991 and over the years has grown into the single biggest sporting and social event in Botswana. The Toyota 1000 Desert Race is also a major contributor to Botswana coffers and in recent years has attracted growing support from the Botswana government, the Department of Tourism and locally based companies like telecommunications giant Mascom.
Race headquarters and the designated service park will again be located at the village of Kumakwane, which is approximately 25 kilometres west of Gaborone. The race moved to Kumakwane last year after logistical problems and crowd congestion necessitated the event find a new home.
"There were some teething problems but overall the move to Kumakwane was a huge success," said event chairman Alan Reid. "We have addressed the teething problems with local government authorities and the Botswana police, and we are confident the event will run smoothly. The facilities at Kumakwane have also been given a facelift and competitors will recognise the improvements that have been made."
On the competition side Toyota teams, and in particular the two factory crews of former SA champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin, will be under severe pressure. Between 1988 and 1995 Toyota scored six wins, but a Toyota crew has not won the race since 1999 when Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton triumphed in a Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser.
Last year saw veteran Hannes Grobler score his sixth Toyota Desert Race win when he and Hennie ter Stege, in the RFS BMW X3, sneaked in ahead of the Toyota Hilux entries of South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst and Vos and Howie. While the pressure on the Toyota crews will be intense, there will be a measure of confidence in the squad with Vos/Howie and Taylor/Birkin coming off a comprehensive one/two domination of the Atlas Copco 400 in KwaZulu-Natal.
The weekend’s proceedings will get underway at 12:00 on June 24 with the Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions for the race. The race will start at 08:00 on June 25 with crews returning to the designated service park at Kumakwane for the overnight halt. The restart will be at 08:00 on Sunday, June 26 with the finish back at Kumakwane in the afternoon.
2011/06/06 | 13:46 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE