Team Toyota widens gulf in class

The Donaldson Cross-County Motor Racing event affectionately known as Mantshwabisi took place in the small mining town of Jwaneng this past weekend for the 33rd edition of the Toyota  Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race.

In 2014, Castol Team Toyota’s Anthony Taylor and navigator Dennis Murphy took the honours on both race days, with Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie finishing in second place just 32 seconds behind the winners. Pundits were favouring Toyota to dominate again in this year’s race.

In his seventh season in the competition, driver Taylor proved he is one of the competition’s best taking first position clocking a time of 01:14.06 ahead of the Ford Ranger’s Gary Bertholdt (01:14.28) and his counterpart, Leeroy Poulter (01:29.04).

Speaking to Gazette Sport after his triumph, 2015 Production Vehicle Champion Taylor pointed out the closely contested affair with his Castrol Team Toyota mate Poulter that had to take a car break down to settle the dust between the duo.

“It was a grueling race with tough competition from riders like Poulter who came fired up for the tournament finishing ahead of me in the Saturday’s heat 1. Me and my navigator managed to rectify our mistakes in heat 2. It was always going to take an individual error or a break down to decide the winner between us so I got of lucky and passed him as he had problems with his power steering filtration. The route was a bit tight but I soldiered on with support from my navigator to defend our title and hopefully we can keep the momentum going for the upcoming races,” he said.

The winners of the challenge got free entry in to the world’s toughest race the Dakar Rally. With 19 designated spectator points along to the route of the race,the desert race brought a huge financial windfall to the mining town and the Botswana Tourism Organisation authorities are keen for other areas to improve.

The move to Jwaneng was a success with locals and visitors from South Africa and neighbouring territories turning out in their groves to watch the action.
Speaking to this publication after the event, Head of Communications in Public Relations at  BTO Keitumetse Setlang thanked spectators for the good behaviour shown at various spectator points and thanked hosts Jwaneng for creating  good relations with the local tourism industry.

“The BTO ran adverts before the start of the event with our theme ‘DON’T SPOIL IT’ to encourage our beloved followers to act responsibly, good environmental care as we all know the town is one of the most kept clean places in the country so we had to adhere to the rules and I must say the people have been well disciplined. I would like to urge private companies to help sponsor the riders especially local ones who at times fail to perform to their level best citing financial issues,” said Setlang.

“Jwaneng authorities have really been supportive of our event as we all know the desert race is a big event bringing all locals and foreigners together which shows the massive growth it has gone through down the years,” she concluded.