Botswana to host Toyota 1000 Desert Race

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GABORONE, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The Toyota 1000 Desert Race will start on June 21, in Selebi Phikwe, a former copper/nickel mining town in the northern part of Botswana.

The race will witness the qualifier, which will determine grid or starting position, on June 21, and the main event on June 22.

The race, which used to be staged in the sandy terrains of Jwaneng, southern part of the country, was this year moved to Selebi Phikwe, a rockier route totally different from the former.

The new route will provide extra pressure for the drivers and more entertainment for the spectators.

All eyes will be on the fire breathing cars in the much-fancied FIA class. The pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing team of defending champion, South African Giniel de Villiers and Shameer Variawa has the Dakar Rally experience and are expected to dish out the much needed energy behind the wheels.

To add more aroma to this year's race, the Horn brothers, Johan and Werner will be provided an opportunity to prove that their podium finish in Jwaneng last year was no fluke. They arrived behind Giniel for a second spot after an impressive run over the first day.

Once again Giniel and his Toyota team, which has made five entries into the FIA category this year, will be on high confidence after a solid performance at the desert race since 2012.

Over the years Toyota has performed well in Botswana. In early days of cross country racing, it was Land Cruiser bakkies that set the pace with a number of consecutive victories since the race moved from South Africa to Botswana in 1991.

In more recent years, the former crowd favorite Duncan Vos stamped his authority with four wins while Anthony Taylor boasts three wins so far. Toyota was last beaten in the iconic race in 2011 when Chris Visser and co-driver Japie Badenhorst won a dramatic race for Ford.

Henk Lategan, who comes across as a closed book, will also fancy his chances after an impressive season in the off road. He drives a second Toyota Hilux from the Gazoo team.

The Red-Lined Motorsport pair of Enerst Robert and Jaco van Dyk driving the once popular Nissan Navara, will try their luck in their first desert race outing, which might prove to be more than just an adventure to Botswana.

Another interesting driver to look forward to is Lance Woolridge in his Ford Ranger.

In the crowd's favorite class A, fondly known as sandmasters, interest will be on the experienced local, Keith du Toit, in his usual speedy BAT viper. He will face tough opposition from the likes of Rayhaan Bodhanya and Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck, all of whom are Batswana. Enditem

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