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Dakar Challenge A Brilliant Concept

The Dakar Challenge, offering privateer teams a free entry to the Dakar Rally, has since 2012 become an integral part of the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race to be run this year from June 23 to 25 in Jwaneng.

The 2017 Dakar Challenge is sponsored by Toyota and will again offer a free entry to the South American classic to the winners of the Auto category of the only marathon event on the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) calendar. The Desert Race is round three of the Auto championship and rounds three and four of the Moto series, with the Dakar Challenge open to Auto privateer teams who have not previously competed in the Dakar Rally.

“The Dakar Challenge is a brilliant concept and has helped drivers/co-drivers and riders who otherwise could not afford it achieve a dream of competing in the Dakar Rally,” said Terence Marsh, marketing executive SACCS.  “It is also a truly international concept with events in Mexico, India, Asia, Morocco, Botswana, Spain, Peru and China so the challenge has cast a wide net.

“The Dakar Challenge also offers an added dimension to an event that is the highlight of the SACCS championship with the race enormously popular in Botswana.”

The Dakar Challenge is designed to be a “talent detector” for promising rally raid competitors said Victor Alvarez Esteban of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organisers of the Dakar Rally. After events in Mexico, India, Asia and Morocco the Toyota Desert Race will be the fifth event on the calendar with other races in Spain, Peru and China.

The inaugural Dakar Challenge in Botswana was won by multiple South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen in the Motorite BAT Viper. They were followed in 2013 by Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Regent Racing Nissan Navara) and Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau in an Atlas Copco Ford Ranger in 2014.

The 2014 Dakar Challenge was also significant in that the Moto category was won by quad racer Brian Baragwanath. The Dakar Rally in 2016 saw Baragwanath, on the Rhide SA Yamaha, go on to cover himself in glory with a third place finish.

The 2015 Dakar Challenge was the only time the event moved from Botswana with Jason Venter/Vince van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) winning a free entry to the Dakar Rally on the RFS Endurance Race in Vryburg in North West province. The pair went on to win the Class T championship in the Production Vehicle category the following year.

Another South African rider, Uppington based Willem du Toit (KTM) will compete in the 2018 Dakar Rally after winning the 2016 Amageza Rallye run in the Northern Cape.

This year’s Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race will again be based in Jwaneng, home of the world’s largest diamond mine operated by Debswana, with race headquarters, the start/finish and designated service park located at the Jwaneng Sports Club and adjacent showground. There will be restricted access to these areas while entrance to spectator viewing points is free of charge.

Cross country enthusiasts can also follow the fortunes of their favourite teams and riders by downloading the RallySafe app for Apple and Android devices. The app is available free of charge and plots the progress of competitors via maps, live timing and results.

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