Toyota Zim ready for rally season

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With the official launch of the 2012 Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally now out of the way, it is business as usual for the event organisers who must prepare for the opening round of the FIA African Rally Championship.

The Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally — Zimbabwe’s premier motorsport event, which marks its 50th year of existence this year — was launched at Sables Motorsport Club in the capital last week.

The three-day event will run in and around Harare from March 16 to 18.

Speaking during the official launch of the 2012 Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally, Zimbabwe Motorsport Federation president Austin Whitehead praised the local motorsport fraternity for making the event possible.

“We are glad to be celebrating the 50th year of existence of the Zimbabwe Challenge and the 31st anniversary of us being part of the African Rally Championship. It’s a great honour to be able to stand here and say this is our 50th year.

“Without the sponsors and organisers, there would be no rally and it’s wonderful that we are still doing it and we will continue to organise it,” said Whitehead.

The Zimbabwe Challenge Rally was first introduced in 1962 and, with the exception of a period during the late 1970s and the year 2000, has been run each year ever since.

The event, which hosts the cream of motor rallying on the continent, is organised each year by Sables Motor Club under the jurisdiction of the Zimbabwe Motor Sports Federation.

The chairman of the event’s organising committee, Craig Batten, thanked the main sponsors Toyota Zimbabwe and Cresta Lodge, who will be hosting this year’s event.

“First of all, I would like to thank Ian Howden, the managing director of Toyota Zimbabwe, and his whole team for once again coming in as our main sponsors. Secondly, I would also want to thank Cresta Lodge, where the whole event will be based and our other important sponsors.”

In recent years the event was hosted by Rainbow Towers but this year, the rally headquarters, start/finish podium, parc femme and service park will all be based at the Cresta Lodge.

The rally will run on almost the same route as last year with the course covering approximately 600km in total distance of which +/- 240km will be competitive sections.

Toyota Zimbabwe managing director Ian Howden said they were very excited to be part of such a momentous occasion.