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Compiled by Andre De Kock

Motorsport Correspondent

Toyota 1000 Desert Race preparing to test Rally-Raid’s best

Country's toughest off-road event returns to its spiritual home of Botswana for the first time since 2019.

The highlight of the 2023 South African Rally-Raid Championship will arrive this weekend, with the Toyota Gazoo 1000 Kalahari Desert race returning to Botswana after an absence of three years.

Production Vehicles

Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy (Toyota Gazoo Racing DKR Hilux T1+) will line up as the team with the most desert race victories.

Toyota 1000 Desert Race return to Botswana preview
Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar (Toyota #TeamHilux DKR T1+) could surprise some of the more fancied crews. Picture: Supplied

They will be chased by Chris Visser who last won in Botswana in 2019. Visser and navigator, Albertus Venter, will give the new Red-Lined REVO T1+ its first taste of the desert.

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Two more Gazoo Racing DKR Hilux T1+ contenders will be Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings and Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle, with the team rounded off by scholar driver, Saood Variawa (17) and experienced navigator, Danie Stassen.

Lance Woolridge/Kenny Gilbert (NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger) will be supported by Ranger  teammates, Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer and Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen.

Toyota 1000 Desert Race return to Botswana preview
A front running vehicle should be the NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger of Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer. Picture: Supplied.

Other desert veterans will include Gary Bertholdt /Henry Köhne (Renergen Toyota Hilux T1+), Johan and Werner Horne (Toyota #TeamHilux DKR T1+), Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar (Toyota #TeamHilux DKR T1+), Johan de Bruyn/Gerhard Schutte (Red-Lined REVO) and Daniel Schröder/Ryan Bland (Nissan Navara).

Special Vehicles

Topping the Special Vehicle Category will be reigning champions Tim Howes/Gary Campbell (BAT Spec 4), challenged by teams like John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger), Lood du Preez/Junior Vardy (Farmer’s Meat Stryker), Eugene Bierman/Pieter Visser (BAT Spec 3), Andrew Makenete/Ntaote Bereng (BAT) and Ahmed Hussain/Victor Fincham (BAT Spec 3).

Class G champions, Werner/Ian Mosterd (Moto-Netix Can-Am Maverick) could challenge the bigger cars, as could their team-mates, Glen Theron/Craig Galvin.

The route

The event will start with a 61 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race at 12:30 on Friday, 23 June, to determine the starting order for the first loop of the race on Saturday, 24 June.

On Saturday, teams will have to complete two loops of 220 kilometres that will take them towards the east of Jwaneng with the results determining the starting grid for Sunday when two loops of 214 kilometres await them.

For the third and final day, teams will veer towards the west of the town and will return to the Designated Service Point (DSP) at the Jwaneng Sports Complex on both days after the first of the two loops.
All the action can be viewed from various vantage points along the route.

The event can also be followed on the RallySafe App, available as a free download from the Google PlayStore and the iStore while updated information will be available on Facebook: saccsauto; Instagram: saccs_auto and Twitter: @SACCS.Auto.

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