Ford became the ultimate winner in the much anticipated and well attended Toyota Gazoo Racing 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race this past week in Jwaneng. This was much to the delight of the Ford fans as Team Ford grabbed two spots in the podium finish – with the Woolridge brothers – Gareth and Lance scooping both position 1 and 2 respectively in the production vehicle category.
Gareth and Boyd Dreyer (navigator), became the champions in their Ford Ranger T1+, while their team mates Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (navigator came second, followed on third position by Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy Lyke (navigator) in their Toyota Hilux T1+.
The weekend win was well-deserved for Ford, which dominated the race throughout the two. The mood among the adrenaline junkies and motor sport lovers was equally on another level – at both the start and finishing point and at spectator points for the entire weekend.
For the Woolridge brothers, it was a continuation of what their father – Neil Woolridge started many years ago – having also won the race in Botswana during his time. Now the two brothers have their names inscribed on the list of TDR winners, alongside that of their father and mentor.
The third placed Toyota team, happened to have made a great improvement, on the last day and last lap of the race, having started on the 4th spot, and ultimately making it to the podium finish in third.
Meanwhile, both the drivers and riders concurred that this year’s race, which had not been held in Jwaneng for 5 years, 3 years of which was due to the Covid 19 – was the most difficult and punishing for them. The terrain of the Desert was unforgiving as always, and this time the overgrown bushes made the race even more difficult. This as all the participating vehicles were badly battered by the bushes.
Some vehicles were also claimed by the unforgiving terrain and vegetation, knocking them off the competition completely.
The teams also reported incidents of near misses where spectators were found on the tracks forcing the teams to stop and avoid them, something which affected their overall time and performance. In another incident a biker hit a cow which was on the track – and the beast died instantly. Al though his bike was badly damaged, the biker survived without injuries.
The challenges faced by the drivers and riders owing to the behaviour by spectators along the routes and at spectator points, are expected to be addressed by the organisers locally for the next race to be smooth. The Toyota desert Race, under the new agreement with the Botswana Tourism Organisation will be held in Botswana for the next 5 years.