The Toyota 1000 Desert Race, highlight of every season’s South African Cross Country Championship, will boast a new route from this year.
The event will take place in the Selebi-Phikwe area for the next three years, subject to renewal.
Botswana has been home to the Toyota 1000 Desert Race since 1991, traversing thousands of kilometres in several areas, including Gaborone, Mantshwabisi, Lentsweletau, Hatsalatladi and Kumakwane, with the last stop being Jwaneng.
The Environmental Impact Assessment requires the race area to be changed every five years, which necessitates the need to look for alternative areas.
The relocation of the host venue is also designed to provide continued interest in the event and new, challenging terrain for competitors. Various areas which could potentially host from 2019 onwards were assessed.
The Selebi-Phikwe region was selected as the most suitable, since it offers the most relevant infrastructure required for the success of the marathon event.
The choice of Phikwe was further influenced by a bid from Spedu and the Selebi-Phikwe Town Council to host the event.
The project area has been determined and the preliminary route will be finalised in due course.
The Desert Race attracts a large number of spectators from all over Botswana, plus a growing number from other Southern African countries and abroad.
Most hotels in host towns and surrounding villages usually report a substantial increase in business during the race. This benefit extends to other sectors of the economy as well.
A special arrangement for the issuing of temporary permits to local vendors is always done to ensure local communities benefit from the race.
This is done at selected points at which spectators are expected to gather. Activities that stand to benefit from the event include fuel stations, food outlets, accommodation facilities, street vendors, the transport sector and retailers.
Botswana Tourism and the police will undertake awareness campaigns to inform the public planning to follow the race and those with settlements along the route about necessary safety tips.
In the event of unforeseen circumstances where damage may be caused to property, reports should be submitted to the nearest police station, where the assessment process will start, resulting in compensation where appropriate.
South African Cross Country Series event director Greg Higgins said: “Toyota has a long and proud history with the Desert Race, and we are delighted that this relationship will continue.”
“We welcome the move to Selebi-Phikwe which offers teams and spectators an array of commercial facilities and new racing terrain in yet another scenic region of Botswana.”