New route for Kalahari Desert Race
KALAHARI DROUGHT BROKEN: Duncan Vos and Rob Howie charge towards Toyota's first win in the Kalahari 1000 in 13 years in the 2012 event. Image: Motorpics
Author: CHARMAINE FORTUNE
Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race veterans who think the Blue Riband race on the Cross-Country championship calendar no longer has the capacity to come up with surprises will be shocked out of their comfort zone by the 2014 race over June 21-23.
A new Four-Wheel Drive Club of SA team under event director Alan Reid has revamped the course for what is round four of the championship which will go into territory through which the race has never ventured – 90% of the route will be new.
The event, first run in 1975, moved to Botswana in 1991 so in 2013 will celebrate 32 years of Toyota sponsorship.
TECHNICAL AND TIGHT
Race headquarters will again be at Kumakwane, 25km north-west of Gaborone, but that’s about where similarities to recent ventures into the desert ends.
Reid explained: “The Saturday and Sunday routes will offer technical tight sections, two rocky mountain passes, thick bush, sandy river-beds and some spectacular river-bank driving.
“It’s a course that includes everything else teams have come to expect for a race that always tests man and machine to the limit. This one will be no exception.”
The Saturday loop will cover 245km and include tight bush sections, open dirt roads and a mountain route never before raced. From Kumakwane the route will head west and run in anti-clockwise to Thamaga and Kanye before heading back to race HQ via Polokwe.
The first 40km of the Sunday route will cover the same ground as the previous day then head south before joining a short section of the Saturday route.
FAST GRAVEL SECTIONS
After another split competitors will tackle a mountain section before rejoining the last 25km of common route back to race HQ. There will be spectacular spectator points where the route runs along the dry Kolobeng riverbed.
The route crosses the Kolobeng River several times and goes under the main road at the village of Mmangodi.
Sunday’s 220km loop is expected to be faster over more open sections of gravel track.
Although still starting and ending in Kumakwane, the in and out section of the designated service park have been swopped to accommodate the new route as well as a ceremonial start.
Day 1 qualifying will be a tight 60km route over 30km of the outward route and 17km of the return route. Saturday and Sunday will each use a common 42km outbound and 25km return loop.
MAJOR ROLE FOR POLICE
Kumakwane will again set up public areas for local traders to sell refreshments and other wares and the village will reap substantial financial benefits from the race.
The Botswana police play a major role in the smooth running of the race with a heavy presence at the service point and at public areas; about 700 officers, car and motorcycle units will be on patrol, covered by a helicopter.
Access to race HQ and the service area will be controlled but entry to spectator areas will be free.
Qualifying will start at 1pm on June 21; racing sections 1 and 2 on the next two days will start at 8.30am.