The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, the third round of the South African Cross Country Championship (SACCS) that took place from 22 to 24 June, had a healthy amount of double points up for grabs, but it would not be easy earnings. Competitors in the Special Vehicle category can confirm that as not many teams managed to reach the finish line after a thousand gruelling kilometres of desert racing over three days.
After a 50 kilometre qualifying race on Friday that determined the starting order for Saturday’s first heat of 444 kilometres and another 424 kilometres of racing on Sunday, not many teams managed to reach the chequered flag at the Jwaneng sport complex where the racing action started and finished each day. The desert showed once again that the TDR 1000 is not a race to be won on the first or the second day and that the complete package is the one that earns the points.
It seemed like the father and daughter team of Coetzee Labuscagne and Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck (4×4 Mega World ARB Porter) had the package all sorted out as they claimed their first overall victory of the season and walked away with the Class A laurels. The pair might not have been the fastest after qualifying where they posted the third fastest time or even on the last day, but after winning on Saturday and again bringing it home safely in fifth place on Sunday albeit on three wheels after they broke a front stub axle, they earned their silverware and all the valuable points.
They were followed by John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite BAT Warbird) who hit a tree during the qualifying and lost time with a gearbox problem but managed to fix it for Saturday’s racing. Here they again lost time with a fuel pump issue but finished the day in second place. On Sunday they kept their noses clean to bag the second place in Class A after completing all three days’ racing successfully.
Keith du Toit/Carolyn Swan (BAT) rounded off the overall podium in the Special Vehicle category as well as in Class A with Werner Kennedy/CJ van Pletzen (Live Lesotho Porter) finishing fourth overall as well as in Class A after an up and down race. They qualified fourth but fell back to eighth on Saturday only to work their way up again on the last day.
Botswana crew Julio Ferreira/Onakebetse Seemise (Sandmaster) won Class P and were the lonely finishers in this class. They were also the last team to complete all three days of racing in the Botswana desert.
John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger) posted the fastest time in the Special Vehicle category on Sunday but could not finish Heat 1 on Saturday. After experiencing problems the day before, a few teams were missing from the start line on the final day. These included Kobus/Marinda Fourie (BAT) who were lying third overall as well as in Class A at the end of Saturday. Dean Bradbury/Timmy Botes (BAT Venom) were fifth after qualifying but could not complete Saturday’s race and did not start the final day.
Some of the major casualties also included Stefan van Pletzen/Jaco Pieterse (Live Lesotho Chenowth) who were the fastest during qualifying but fell back to seventh place overall at the end of Saturday and had to call it a day on Sunday when they blew the engine five kilometres into the race. Lance Trethewey/Adriaan Roets (BAT Venom) were second fastest after qualifying, but experienced gearbox problems early on Saturday and were forced to retire.
Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco Magnum) made a good start to the 2018 TDR 1000 and were leading Class P after qualifying. They kept the lead on Saturday and completed the first loop on Sunday but could unfortunately not complete the full race distance. Tony Gouveia/Tinus le Roux (CRT) completed qualifying successfully and tackled and finished the race again on Sunday after they ran into problems on Saturday and were unable to bring it home.
Only three SxS vehicle managed to complete the full race distance in the National Interprovincial SxS Challenge. This class was won by Nico du Rand/JG Claassen (Can-Am) whose consistency paid off for them to walk away with the trophies. They were followed by Peter Walters/Shaun de Villiers (Can-Am Maverick X30) and Ashley Bradbury/Hein van Staden (Can-Am Maverick X3).
The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is not known for being kind to competitors and this year it seemed that Lady Luck did not even visit the Special Vehicle category, it will mean a return to the drawing board for some while a new approach to the rest of the season will be on the cards for others.