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Toyota Maintains Dominance At Desert Race

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
Giniel De Villiers in a Toyota PIC. KENNEDY RAMOKONE
JWANENG: Toyota maintained their dominance at the annual Toyota 1000km Desert race over the weekend while local rider, Ross Branch extended his undefeated record in Jwaneng.

Giniel De Villiers who won the race last year retained his title as Toyota won their sixth successive race since 2012. De Villiers overcame many challenges along the way including tyre punctures. He took advantage after Henk Lategan who initially led the race failed to finish because of car problems.

De Villiers told Monitor Sport in a post race interview that the two-day race was very tough. He said as a driver, it is also important to finish. “The second lap is always the hardest because the routes are exposed and the track is rough and uneasy, the punctures forced us to reduce our speed but otherwise the Hilux did well,” he said.

The driver from Toyota Gazoo Racing in South Africa also said he remembered some of the routes from last year although it was bushy. In terms of spectators, he said a lot of them get busy with phones on the road and it is never easy to see them. He said he had observed that a lot of spectators are Toyota supporters. He said he does not see any point of retiring soon as long as it is fun.

On the bikers category, local rider, Branch continued his dominance over other riders. He told Monitor Sport after the victory that this year’s race was fun and exciting. He said on Saturday the race was tough, but he got a good gap in the morning and was

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forced to maintain his speed and control the race from half way.

He said he is now looking forward to Dakar since the home race is done. Branch said on Sunday morning they almost had a head on accident with one of the spectators.

“We missed each other and it was a heart stopping moment but it is good to see the spectators on the loop,” he said. He said despite his total dominance since the race moved to Jwaneng there is so much competition because the riders are so fast.

The seven-time winner of the race said he has always liked the sand because it is not too dangerous compared to rocks. He admitted that local riders are strong despite the issues at Botswana Motorsport. “We have so many people who can go far and possibly join the Dakar one day,” he highlighted.

Commenting on the first race since local rider Motsumi Lekone passed away, Branch said it was sad because Lekone was the vibe of the pitts. “He made things happen so as a personal friend and motorbike enthusiast he was very close to all of us and hopefully he was watching us from up there,” he said.

Meanwhile, there was no sign of anyone from Botswana Motorsport as the race was held in Jwaneng for the last time. It is not clear whether the race will come back to Jwaneng or Gantsi as initially planned.



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