When the 2021 South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) moves to the Upington area in the Northern Cape Province for the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA (TGRSA) 1000 Desert Race Upington, the third round of the series that takes place over three days on 18, 19 and 20 June, with a race route of about a thousand kilometres that ventures into uncharted terrain and a level playing field awaits all.
With the traditional Toyota Botswana 1000 Desert Race that had to be postponed for a second consecutive year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA (TGRSA) 1000 Desert Race Upington will not only be the replacement event for the 2021 season, but this marathon event will also include the Road To Dakar Challenge. The winning entry for the Road to Dakar Challenge, will win a free entry to participate in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia during January 2022.
Toyota has been the sponsor of the only marathon event on the SACCS calendar since 1993 with Toyota Gazoo Racing SA stepping in to ensure a marathon event for 2021. And although no borders will be crossed for this year’s event and Botswana enthusiasts having to wait another year to spectate at their beloved event, SACCS teams, sponsors and supporters are looking forward to explore new terrain in the Northern Cape Province.
SACCS Route Director, Evan Hutchison, was overwhelmed by the hospitality and enthusiasm of the Upington community who are totally committed to a successful event. The economy of Upington relies on agriculture, tourism and the services industries while the central business district boasts modern shops and easily accessible facilities. The town has a well-run transport system including a small, but busy airport.
With the mighty Orange River as feeding base, the oasis in the Kalahari is perfect for growing grapes and the Orange River Wine Cellars, based on the flood plains of the mighty Orange River, is the largest multi-cellar co-operative in the country and the second largest in the world.
The 2021 TGRSA 1000 Desert Race Upington will explore the area with the Race Headquarters and Designated Service Point (DSP) situated at the sports area of the Upington Expo Showgrounds in the heart of the town. From here competitors will venture into the harsh landscapes and desert-like terrain for three days of racing. The route will comprise of two loops and will offer varied terrain including sand and small dunes as well as tight and technical sections and hard-pack areas.
The Pirelli Qualifying Race will kick-start the activities on Friday, 18 June. Competitors will take on the 130 kilometres section at 12:00 from the Upington Expo Showgrounds and will venture into a section to the north of the town that includes mini dunes. The loop will take them back to the finish at the showgrounds. The results of the Pirelli Qualifying Race will determine the starting order for the race on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, 19 June a 200km loop awaits competitors with the first team departing at 08:00. This loop will also start and finish at the Expo Showgrounds where all teams will stop for a compulsory 30 minute de-control before taking on the same loop again for a total race distance of 400 kilometres for the day.
The combined results of the Pirelli Qualifying Race on Friday as well as the 400km race distance on Saturday will determine the starting order for the final racing section on Sunday with the first team departing the Expo Showgrounds at 08:00 on the riverbeds loop. The distance will again be approximately 200 kilometres and will include a 70 kilometre mini dune and sandy section at the start of the loop that will be a unique experience for many. From here they will head out to the riverbed area that differs vastly from the dune section.
Teams will encounter numerous dry riverbeds and rocky sections as well as hard-pack terrain and tracks with the finish of the loop at the Expo Showgrounds where they will again have to stop for a compulsory 30 minute de-control before heading out to take on the loop again. The final chequered flag will be waved at the finish at the Upington Expo Showgrounds for competitors who will then have completed a total race distance of approximately 910 kilometres.
No spectators are allowed at the Race Headquarters according to COVID-19 Regulations. Enthusiasts will be able to follow the action on the RallySafe App, sponsored by Toyota, that can be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store or the App Store.
Published by: Charmaine Fortune
Picture Caption: Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
Photography by: Nadia Jordaan
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