Toyota SA Motors will again be supporting the Road to Dakar initiative at this year’s Toyota Botswana 1000 Desert Race. This race-within-a-race was previously known as the Dakar Challenge, and offers privateer crews the opportunity to win a free entry to the world’s toughest automotive race, the Dakar Rally.
“We believe the Road to Dakar is an incredible opportunity for crews to make the most of the Desert Race,” says Toyota SA Motors Vice-President for Marketing, Glenn Crompton. “As it is, the Desert Race is undoubtedly the toughest automotive race on the African continent, and as such it is a perfect fit for the Road to Dakar.”
This year’s Toyota 1000 Desert Race (TDR 1000) will take place on 21-23 June, in a new location around the town of Selebi-Phikwe in eastern Botswana. Despite the move to a new area, the race will retain its key characteristics as the only marathon event on the South African Cross-Country calendar: The race distance remains set at 1,000 km; and the race will again take place over a total of three days.
“The Desert Race is the only marathon event on the SACCS calendar, and as such it offers us an unparalleled opportunity to test our Toyota Hilux in conditions that resemble those found on many Dakar stages,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall.
But while the factory team will be in the hunt for overall victory and honing the Toyota Hilux in preparation for Dakar 2020, the Road to Dakar brings a challenge to those crews hoping to bag an entry to the iconic race.
In 2017 it was Treasury One’s Hennie de Klerk who won a free entry to the Dakar Rally, when he was the first of the registered Dakar Challengers to cross the line in Botswana. The Pretoria-based businessman did South Africa proud when he and navigator Gerhard Schutte not only completed the Dakar, but also won the Rookie of the Year Award in their SA-built Volkswagen Amarok.
The 2018 winners, Red-Lined Motorsport’s Terence Marsh and navigator Riaan Greyling, will be entering the 2020 race in Saudi Arabia.
Crews hoping to follow in the footsteps of De Klerk and Schutte need to register for the Road to Dakar before tackling the Toyota Botswana 1,000 Desert Race. The competition is only open to crews who haven’t competed in the Dakar Rally before, and with a value of nearly R450,000, the Road to Dakar may just enable a crew to make it to the start line of the Dakar come January 2020.
This year, the Road to Dakar is open to all privateers, who haven’t previously taken part in the Dakar Rally. The winning competitor can choose to enter the next Dakar or the following one, effectively giving the team a maximum of 18 months to prepare for the race. This means that crews who have previously won the Dakar Challenge or Road to Dakar, but haven’t been able to take up their prize, are eligible to win again in 2019.
The Road to Dakar consists of six global races-within-races, though not all of them are open to cars. As a matter of fact, the Toyota Botswana 1,000 Desert race is only open to cars, making it especially enticing for SACCS crews harbouring Dakar aspirations.
“We’re excited to see who emerges as the winner of the 2020 Road to Dakar at our Desert Race,” concludes Crompton. “But at the same time, we are equally excited to see our own Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux crews in action on the new route at Selebi-Phikwe.”