The Toyota 1000 km Desert Race is expected to return to Jwaneng mining town next year for an unprecedented fourth year. The off road-racing spectacle has the potential to do serious harm to the environment if it is run on one place for a long time. This week Botswana Motorsport (BMS) president Simon Modisaeman said there was no decision to move the race to another town or village since stakeholders involved are yet to meet and chart the way forward.
Previously the popular marathon event was held in different places in the southern part of the country including Metsimotlhabe, Gaborone, Kumakwane and currently Jwaneng. “We have not discussed the way forward. Stakeholders will meet soon and decide where the race goes,” said Modisaeman this week. He added that the event is unlikely to move from Jwaneng as South African race organisers SANORA have not suggested anything regarding the matter. “We are the custodian of the motorsport in Botswana and in 2014 we spent P450 000 in an environmental assessment after applying for the route”.
The race in Jwaneng started in 2014 and this year was the third edition of the event, he said, adding that the environmental assessment of the racecourse was an ongoing process. Moreover, Modisaeman raised concern over spectators who have the habit of littering inJwaneng and surrounding areas. In other matters, the BMS president also raised concern over an emerging and dangerous trend by some Desert race spectators who hurl stones at speeding cars. “One of the cars representing the Regent Racing Nissan was smashed by a stone. This is not the first time it happened.
During a recent national championship, some of our competitors complained about spectators who throw stones at riders in the same area.” Modisaeman urged the public to report such incidents as this behaviour can end up killing or seriously injuring competitors who drive or ride their vehicles at high speed. “You must remember that we are affiliated to international governing bodies like the FIA and FIM. This means the safety of our drivers and riders must come first.” The BMS boss warned that if such behaviour persists the much loved Desert Race may be cancelled in the future.
Modisaeman apologised to local competitors who did not have the opportunity to receive their prizes after the event. “You must remember that we hosted both the Botswana desert race and South African championships at the same time.” In the end only prizes for the Desert race and the South African championships were handed out while Batswana riders did not have this opportunity. One the competitors at the Desert Race, Motsumi Lekone said the mining town was congested as a venue. He added that the town is unable to handle the number of spectators that flock to the event. Lekone, who competes in the quad bike category, said the previous venue in Kumakwane village was much more convenient.