The 29th Toyota 1000 Desert Race that takes place in Botswana over the long weekend of June 13 - 16 is the third round of the 2003 ABSA Off-Road Championship and the toughest challenge by far in the eight-event series. It is the only "marathon" event of the local off-road racing season. -

- This event is one of the longest running on the local motor sport calendar and has been sponsored by Toyota South Africa for the past 25 years. It started out originally as the Trans-Kalahari and later moved from Botswana to the North-West Province, based out of Vryburg. The event moved back to Botswana in 1990 and enjoys ever-growing support from the local authorities and communities in Botswana. -

- Covering a race distance of 1 000 km, the Toyota Desert Race offers more than the combined distance of the first two off-road races of the 2003 season, which were 400 km each in length. -

- Clerk of the Course Peter Mounsear-Wilson, who has been organising the Toyota 1000 Desert Race to Botswana since its return to this challenging part of the African continent 11 years ago, warned that conditions would again be extremely tough this year. -

- “It can only be described as extremely dusty and very dry, so it will be important for competitors to ensure they qualify high up in the starting order,” he said. -

- Racing at the front of the 70-strong field of Production Vehicle and Special Vehicle Category competitors, might, however, not be the ideal situation. -

- “The route is very overgrown because of good rainfall earlier in the year, but it is now extremely dusty. Frontrunners will have their work cut out for them finding the route as the lead vehicle, while the rest of the field will battle in the dust,” he predicted. -

- The event has a new start/finish at the recently completed Game City Shopping Centre at the entrance to Gaborone from the main Lobatse road. Documentation is on Friday (June 13), followed by scrutineering directly and competitors then going straight into the time trial, with the first car due to start at 11:00. -

- “The main purpose of this Friday section of the route is to allow the competitors to set up a qualifying time which will be used to determine the starting grid – similar to that of Formula One. Competitors have only one go at the prologue, a 44 km section identical to the main route except for the first 300 meters,” he said. -

- The results of the prologue will be posted at 19:00 on Friday, with the start of the race scheduled for 08:00 the next day. -

- “The cars will start in the sequence they completed the prologue with identical time gaps between them for the first 30 minutes. Thereafter the rest of the field will depart at 60 second intervals.” -

- With about 30% of the first section of the route brand new territory, the first competitors are expected to reach the halfway mark, the designated service stop (DSP) that will also be the overnight stop (ONS), at about 11h00. Some of the top-runners in the Production Vehicle Category, including Toyota Motorsport’s works entry of Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton in the Castrol Land Cruiser 4,5 EFI, might not stop for fuel after the first 220km of the route, carrying enough high octane to safely bring them home after the second, slightly longer, section of 268km. -

- “This top section is even more dusty and extremely sandy because of the drought in the area, and vehicles without four-wheel drive might not make it through the thick sand,” Mounsear-Wilson warned. He added that the two-wheel drive Special Vehicle Category competitors would not have a problem, as they are much lighter than their 4x4 counterparts and will easily drive over the sand. “But if they stop for any reason, they might battle to get going again”. -

- As always the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, is one of the most important happenings of the year in an around Gaborone and its surrounding villages. There will be ample spectator opportunities with no less than six road crossings between the start and the DSP. “The route also comes very close to various main roads,” Mounsear-Wilson said. -

- The leading competitors are expected to reach the ONS at about 14:30 with enough time to prepare their vehicles for the next day’s section, starting at 08:00 with the top loop and finishing at the Game Shopping Centre in Gaborone again at about 14:30. -

- “Full catering facilities, as well as fuel, will be provided for at the overnight stop for the teams and their supporters,” Mounsear-Wilson said. -

- For the second year the 2003 Toyota 1000 Desert Race will not include a SA National Off-Road Motorcycle Category, but will cater for about 35 local and regional Botswana motorcycle and quad competitors covering only the first section on day one and the second section on day two. -

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Original article from Car