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Selebi-Phikwe to be named as new 'Mantshwabisi' host

KABELO BORANABI
The Desert Race will be held in Selebi-Phikwe next year
After months of speculation, the organisers of the annual Toyota 1000km Desert Race, popularly known as ‘Mantshwabisi’, have settled for Selebi-Phikwe as the host of the 38th edition.

Last month, the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) announced that the race would move away from the diamond-mining town of Jwaneng after five years. Since the announcement, Selibe-Phikwe was seen as the front runner to get the nod to host the event.  At the time the Botswana Motor Sport president, Lebogang Mosope said stakeholders were in a consultation process, but dropped a hint that the race would move to the northeastern part of the country.

Mmegi Sport is reliably informed that the former copper and nickel mining town has won the hosting rights with an announcement to be made on Wednesday. Although BTO communications manager, Keitumetse Setlang declined to divulge much, she said an announcement would be made in Selebi-Phikwe on Wednesday. “We cannot comment at the moment. We will have an official comment in Phikwe on the 12th,” she briefly said.

It will be the first time the race would be held in the northern part of the country. The race

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was previously held at Mantshwabisi village, Kumakwane and recently Jwaneng amongst others.

According to reports, SPEDU has bid to bring the largest off road racing event to the lifeless Selebi-Phikwe.

The former mining town has turned into a ghost town since the closure of the BCL copper and nickel mine in 2016, and the town’s leadership is desperate to revive Selebi-Phikwe through sports tourism.

The town currently hosts the Orange Phikwe Marathon and the Selebi-Phikwe Softball Extravaganza. Mantshwabisi holds the third and fourth rounds of the Motor South Africa off road championships and the BMS national off road championship third round.

The event is one of the races used to qualify for the prestigious Dakar Rally. The event is the biggest social and sporting event in the country with over 150, 000 spectators attending the event in the recent years, which makes it one the biggest motorsport events in Southern Africa.



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