- Popular Special Vehicles in pursuit of gold set to entertain crowds
- Botswana team of Mohammed Dada and Mohammad Saloojee is in with their X3 RS Turbo
The Toyota Gazoo Racing 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race will take place over three days on 23, 24 and 25 June starting from the diamond mining town of Jwaneng where the popular Special Vehicles will again entertain the crowds as the teams go for gold in their powerful open-wheel vehicles.
After an absence of three years, the iconic desert race returns to Jwaneng where it last took place in 2018. Popularly known as Mantshwabisi after a settlement along the route, this is the third round of the 2023 SA Rally-Raid Championship.
The 2022 winners and defending champions of the Special Vehicle Category, Tim Howes/Gary Campbell (BAT Spec 4), are in a good position to solidify their standings while a good result and precious silverware will be pointing towards a positive second half of 2023.
Veterans John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten
They can expect competition from veterans John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger) as well as Lood du Preez/Junior Vardy (Farmer’s Meat Stryker).
Thomson/Zermatten missed the season opener while Du Preez could not finish the Sugarbelt 400, with Eugene Bierman/Pieter Visser (BAT Spec 3), who could not complete the first race of the season, will be looking to build on their podium result at the recent Sugarbelt 400.
Also in Class A are experienced desert race competitors, Andrew Makenete and navigator Ntaote Bereng from Lesotho (BAT Makmobile), who have had previous successes in Botswana while the local team of Ahmed Hussain/Victor Fincham (BAT Spec 3) will be a definite crowd favourite. Mohammed Noor/Antoine Stander (Porter) will also be in action.
Smaller and more nimble vehicles
The smaller and more nimble vehicles in Class G have proven that although fitted with smaller engines with less horsepower at their disposal, they can finish among the frontrunners.
The deep sandy tracks and faster, flat routes are challenges that these vehicles must face; but with consistency and minimal mechanical problems, they can be a threat to the stronger vehicles in Class A.
Defending Class G champions, Werner and his teenage son Ian (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick), won the event in Upington last year while Werner and his brother, Leon, won the class in Botswana in 2019 when the race was hosted in Selebi-Phikwe.
With love from Angola
It will, however, be a first visit to Botswana for Ian who is now behind the wheel with his experienced dad reading him the notes.
Their teammates, Glen Theron/Craig Galvin, finished third in the class last year, and like their team-mates, will be aiming to keep their 2023 scorecard clean and conquer the desert.
A third Moto-Netix Racing team, João Lota/Nuno dos Santos, will travel from Angola to Botswana and will be in action with a Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS RR. As experienced racers, a good result can be expected from the visitors.
The local Botswana team of Mohammed Dada/Mohammad Saloojee will also take on the race with their X3 RS Turbo.
At 12:30 on Friday 23 June, teams will take on a 61-kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race to determine the starting positions for the first of the two 220-kilometre loops on Saturday 24 June.
The Saturday race will take competitors towards the east of Jwaneng at the end of which the results will again be used to determine the starting order for the third and final day.
On Sunday, teams will again face two loops of 214 kilometres with the race moving towards the west of Jwaneng. Teams will return to the Designated Service Point (DSP) at the Jwaneng Sports Complex after the first of the two loops on both days.