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After not competing in Botswana since 2019, the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) returns to the neighbouring country for the Toyota Gazoo Racing 1 000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race (TGR 1000) that will take place at Jwaneng over three days from 23 to 25 June.

Jwaneng last hosted the TGR 1000 Desert Race in 2018 making it an all-new event for quite a few current competitors. Almost 1 000 kilometres of gruelling racing over three days in desert-like conditions adds to the challenge, and all these factors contribute to the many reasons why the Desert Race in Botswana remains an iconic event, since its inception in 1991.

The weekend’s programme features a feast of national championship racing with round three of the SA Rally-Raid Championship and rounds two and three of the Botswana Motorsport (BMS) Off Road Motorcycle and Quad Championships.

“It is great to have the cars, motorcycles and the quads under one roof,” said SARRC chief executive officer Archie Rutherford. “The weekend is regarded as the premier sporting and social event in Botswana and is the blue-chip event on the SARRC calendar.

“The weekend promises to provide for some spectacular racing and once again we have had unbelievable support from the Botswana Tourism Organisation, the Botswana Police Service, various Land Boards, the Jwaneng District Commissioner, the Jwaneng Town Council and Debswana who own the Jwaneng diamond mine.”

As in the past, the route contains all the characteristics of the Desert Race and while it might feel familiar to those with desert racing experience, it is a well-known fact that a possible sting in the tail can change things at any moment.

The cars, motorcycles and quads will each do an ‘east’ loop and a ‘west’ loop in the race. The cars will complete the ‘east’ loop on Saturday, 24 June and the ‘west’ loop on Sunday, 25 June and vice versa for the motorcycles and quads.

For the 2023 edition of the TGR 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race, SARRC competitors will have to take on a 61 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race at 12:30 on Friday, 23 June from the Start/Finish of the event at the Jwaneng Sports Complex. The results of the qualifier will determine the starting order for the race on Saturday, 24 June with the fastest 10 teams having the opportunity to draw and choose their starting positions.

On Saturday, the route will consist of two loops of 220 kilometres that will take competitors to the east of Jwaneng towards Sese, Betesankwe, Tsonyane and Lefhoko before turning back to Jwaneng, while they will have to complete a 214 kilometre loop twice towards the south western side of Jwaneng on Sunday.

Competitors can expect a route consisting of a variety of tight and fast sections and will bypass Mokhomma and Semane before turning in a northerly direction, crossing the A2 up to the northern district border, before returning to Jwaneng on the western side of the Debswana mine.

On Sunday competitors will start the race route stretching towards the southwestern side of Jwaneng with the results of Saturdays race determining the starting order for the first of the two loops on the last day. Teams who failed to complete the racing section on Saturday, can try again on Sunday, as a healthy haul of points towards the various championships are up for grabs.

Race Headquarters and the Designated Service Point (DSP) will be situated at the Jwaneng Sport Complex and teams will return on both days to the DSP, at the halfway mark of the race, for a compulsory service break before taking on the remaining loop.

As the TGR 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race has grown into the biggest sporting events in Botswana over the years, thousands of spectators from both the hosting country as well as South Africa are again expected to follow the race, and vantage points will be easily assessable while the Botswana Police Service will be out in full force to control the traffic flow.

The event will again incorporate the Road to Dakar competition and with Toyota’s sponsorship, as part of the TGR 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race, this competition opens the door for local competitors to achieve their dream as the prize is an entry to participate in the Dakar Rally.

Enthusiasts can follow the race on the RallySafe App that is available as a free download on the iStore and Google PlayStore. The standings during the course of each day as well as maps and relevant information will be available on the App.

Published by: SA National Cross Country Series – Charmaine Fortune

Photography by: Plan C Productions

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