The South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) will reach the halfway mark of the 2019 season with the annual Toyota 1000 Desert Race (TDR 1000) in Botswana and this year another angle will be added to the challenge when this marathon event relocates to Eastern Botswana. The TDR 1000, round three of the SACCS Production and Special Vehicle and Side x Side National Championships, will take place in the Selebi-Phikwe area on 21, 22 and 23 June.
The TDR 1000 is the only three-day marathon event on the SACCS calendar and the largest Cross Country event in Southern Africa. The event, with sponsorship from Toyota, has been run in Botswana since 1991 traversing thousands of kilometres in several regions including Gaborone, Mantshwabisi, Lentsweletau, Hatsalatladi and Kumakwane with the last stop being the small mining town of Jwaneng.
The TDR 1000 will also form rounds four and five of the BMS National Quad and Bike Championship while the TDR 1000 Desert Adventure for motorcycle and quad competitors will be a non-scoring event.
A fresh challenge awaits competitors when they tackle the gruelling thousand kilometres of the 2019 TDR 1000 in Phikwe and with double points up for grabs, as well as personal challenges and the aim to beat the desert, it will be a weekend where teams as well as service crews and supporters will be challenged to the limit.
The event for SACCS and SxS competitors will comprise two heats. Heat One includes a 60km Qualifying Race on Friday, 21 June and the 220km Eastern loop to be repeated twice on Saturday, 22 June. On Sunday, 23 June competitors will face Heat Two and the last 400 odd kilometres of this testing event totalling just short of 1000 daunting desert kilometres.
Motorcycle and Quad competitors will start their challenge with a 45km Time Trail on Friday, 21 June followed by the 210km Western loop to be repeated twice on Saturday. On Sunday the final 440km Eastern loop will be their battlefield.
Race headquarters as well as the Start/Finish and the Designated Service Point (DSP) will be at the Selebi-Phikwe Sam Sono Stadium. After documentation, scrutineering and the compulsory riders briefing on Friday, the action will get underway at 11:30 for quad and motorcycle competitors and at 13:00 for SACCS and SxS competitors.
The 60km Qualifying Race will take SACCS and SxS competitors from the Sam Sono Stadium towards Tobani in the east before heading back to Phikwe, with the results determining the starting order for Saturday and Heat One of the TDR 1000.
The leading team will be out of the starting blocks at 08:15 to tackle the first of the day’s two loops. Production and Special Vehicle teams as well as SxS teams will again head east around Phikwe towards Tobani before veering off south to Sephophe where they cross the A15 and continue south to Mogapi. From there they will turn north and return to the stadium at Phikwe.
The results of Heat One will determine the starting order for Heat Two on Sunday when the TDR 1000 will again get underway at 08:15. Teams will leave the stadium for the two loops of the final heat and will head south towards Mogapinyana before returning in a northerly direction towards Mmadinare. From there they will head back to the finish at the Sam Sono Stadium in Phikwe.
After the first of the two loops on Saturday and Sunday, teams return to DSP for a compulsory 30-minute service break before taking on the final stretch of the day to the finish at the Sam Sono Stadium.
Teams who manage to complete all three days successfully will proudly be able to tick off almost a thousand kilometres in Botswana’s harsh terrain and the points scored, will be the reward for this epic challenge.
The TDR 1000 is regarded as the most testing event on the calendar and for many, participating in this event, means even more than the points scored. To be able to complete as many TDR 1000 kilometres as possible, competitors who failed to complete Heat One, will be allowed to start Heat Two on Sunday.
Due to the exceptionally good late season rains, the vegetation is lush and overgrown. Teams and their vehicles will have to be prepared for many dry riverbed crossings as well as streams and the route will be spectacularly scenic. Some of the most beautiful trees in Africa, including the Baobab, can be found in this part of Botswana. The terrain will vary all the time and will include hard pack soil as well as soft sand and verdant bush.
The TDR 1000 is always a tough event and it will again be a challenge that must be treated with respect. As a new event for all, the playing field will be level and the pressure to have their names at the top of the TDR 1000 Phikwe list will be high.