Saturday, May 15, 2021

Keith Du Toit aims for tops at Dakar rally

Keith du Toit, a local participant driver in the 1000 Kalahari Desert Race in 2013, has vowed to grab the much coveted prize on the 26th of June when the event is held. Du Toit suffered a devastating blow the previous year as the vehicle he was driving alongside his navigator Xander Mare succumbed to a breakdown, after hitting a big tree which rendered his vehicle not worthy for the competition. Had it not been for the breakdown, Du Toit would have been a strong contender for the event. However, he is hopeful that this mishap will not happen this year.

“We were in his dust trail when my vehicle hit a big tree,” reminisced du Toit, referring to the 2014 runner up Johan Van Staden who qualified for the prestigious Dakar rally. “This time around it is my turn. I must win the race…it is not negotiable,” du Toit added in interview, promising to be vigilant and conscious on the meandering dusty and bushy roads of the Kalahari Desert.

For the second time, the race will be held in Jwaneng Township – which will be the starting point of the race. The Kalahari Desert Race is a stepping stone towards the Dakar Rally – a much more challenging and demanding race famous for its tedious dunes and bumpy and rough terrains. And the self-confessed sport addict could not wait to see himself there taking part and competing with the world’s best. “Dakar is a serious challenge…it is every driver’s goal to be there and hopefully I will be there,” du Toit swore, knowing very well the big challenge that comes with participating in the race.

He is hopeful that the weather will be “nice, cool and cold” on June 26 and the subsequent Saturday and Sunday. “I will be cautious on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday, I will hit the road running – passing-by the sleepy drivers,” he said. Thanks to his promising driving prowess, Du Toit has not lost part of his traditional sponsors including the main sponsor Bokomo which will be responsible for the tyres, CV Joints and fuel, amongst other logistics. “Without sponsors the race is difficult to accomplish. Tyres are very expensive,” he said. He said that some other local sponsors have shown willingness to assist.

Du Toit’s main worry is to repair his vehicle which to date is still lying idle bearing the scars of the damage inflicted during the 2014 accident. The auto-machine parts are not available even from the neighbouring South Africa. The vehicle parts ought to be purchased abroad. Added to his woes is also the sporadic power outages which he says are a “common phenomenon”. “We are still setting and putting some logistics with our sponsors for the repair of the vehicle but the main challenge could be the power generation,” said General Manager of Babcock TCM Plant. Despite the setback, Du Toit still has some time to practice for the big day. His recent participation in the South African competition pulled him an impressive performance for the Kalahari Desert Race. Du Toit is calling on Batswana to come in great numbers for the race for solidarity and support of the sport. “Just like me, many Batswana have become addicted and are passionate about racing. We want to put Botswana on the map,” the confident Du Toit concluded.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper