Just a fortnight before the Toyota 1000km Desert Race (TDR), local riders’ participation is in doubt due to financial constraints. The 'ghost' town of Selebi-Phikwe is expected to come to life on June 21 to 23 as it hosts Africa’s biggest off-road motorsport event.
The event popularly known as Mantshwabisi, forms part of the Botswana Motor Sport’s (BMS) fourth and fifth rounds. For the first time since 1991, the South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) will not host its third and fourth rounds of motorcycle championships at the race. This comes after the SACCS deemed the three-day event very costly and risky to the riders. The development has left the BMS-licensed riders with a blow, as they have to dig deep into their pockets to make the race. to page 41
“It will be very costly for us, local bikers to go to the Desert Race, especially those who do not have sponsors. SACCS pulled out their bikes for this year’s event and it is only the BMS national championships,” Gaborone Motor Club public relations officer, Kagiso Stephens told Mmegi Sport.
“This will come at a cost because there were a lot of things that came with SACCS participation like accommodation and fuel amongst others, but this time around we are on our own.”
He said the participation would cost a rider more than P20, 000 with a P5, 000 entry fee, maintenance, accommodation and fuel costs included, thus could leave the celebrated event with a record low number of competitors.
“A lot of riders out there may not make it to the race. After the South Africans pulled out, we did not have a chance but to continue since this is on our soil. But it is too costly, I foresee one of the lowest turnouts in the history of the race.
We are suffering because of lack of sponsors, we tried the government but they have not responded yet, so we have to rely on sympathisers and private companies,” Stephens added.
A draft of the route for the three-day event is out, starting with the 45km time trial on Friday, June 21, followed by the 210km western loop to be repeated twice on Saturday.
On Sunday, the final 440km eastern loop will be the riders’ last and most demanding test. Race headquarters as well as the start, finish and the Designated Service Point (DSP) will be at the Sam Sono Stadium.
The route will pass through Tobane, Mogapi, Sefophe, Mmadinare and Mogapinyana.
There will also be a Desert Adventure for motorcycle and quad competitors who are not BMS-licensed and this will be a non-scoring event.