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Botswana among countries proposed for Dakar race

KABELO BORANABI
Dakar Rally might come to Southern Africa
On the back of a very successful Dakar Rally story where local rider, Ross Branch scooped the rookie award on his debut, excitement has risen after news that the world’s biggest motor sport event could be heading to Southern Africa.

According to reports, race organisers are mulling over the idea of bringing the rally back to Africa, with the southern part of the continent being preferred destination.

The race was held in Senegal until 2008 due to security threats in West Africa. It moved to South America where it was contested in three countries, with Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Paraguay, being some of the hosts. It was until this year when it was hosted in just one country, with the government of Peru committing to host the event. The race directors have since shown interest of bringing the race back to Africa and the negotiations began last year. The organisers are faced with the challenge of determining the route for the Dakar 2020 route with race director, Etienne Lavigne saying they prefer a return to a three-country model.

“For me, the ideal [format] is the 2018 edition; through three countries, three types of geography, different stages - I hope to have this type of cocktail with several ingredients because it gives us the chance to surprise the drivers more. Until 2016-2017, there was a desire from the countries to host the event and today there are economic conditions in Argentina, Chile, Peru, which make it difficult to know the intentions of the political leaders.”

“The truth is that we have the pressure to propose our 2020 plans and beyond as soon as possible, in three, four months. If we do not know how to recover [the situation], we have to change course, because we cannot afford another situation like the one of last month,” Lavigne is

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quoted by USA based, Motorport.com. Last week, the Angolan motor sport federation, the FADM announced contact with Dakar officials regarding the hosting of the race in Southern Africa with Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Lesotho and South Africa proposed as hosts.  The proposed route starts in Cape Town, South Africa, heads for Lesotho and then turns west to Botswana and then Angola before heading back south through Namibia and ultimately back to the finish in Cape Town.

Speaking to Mmegi Sport yesterday, Vincent Crosbie welcomed the move as he said this would come as a financial advantage to local riders with the cost of participation being reduced.  “It would be awesome if we can get the biggest race to Botswana and around.  This will show people what the race is about and they would appreciate the race and the sport better. It would also be cheaper to compete. We could get more sponsors, as the race would be closer while competing at a little cost. This could be huge for us (riders) and our sponsors because it is cheaper,” he said. Crosbie, who became the first Motswana to compete at the prestigious event in 2017, further said the terrain in Southern Africa would be suitable for the race. “Between the countries mentioned, we have the most beautiful terrain.

There are sand dunes, mountains, a high altitude, we have more than enough,” he said. Botswana has only had two representatives at the Dakar, and this year only three Africans, including Branch participated at the event. The host of 2020 Dakar is expected to be announced before June.



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