Botswana born businessman Atang Makgekgenene aims to be the first Motswana to win the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round three of the SA Off Road Championship - presented by Bankfin, Absa's specialist vehicle and asset finance division - in Botswana...
Botswana born businessman Atang Makgekgenene aims to be the first Motswana to win the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round three of the SA Off Road Championship - presented by Bankfin, Absa's specialist vehicle and asset finance division - in Botswana from June 13-15.
Makgekgenene developed a love for off-road racing in the mid-70's when he was exposed to what was then the Total Trans-Kalahari Road Race.
Regular visits to events such as the Lichtenburg 400, the Mafeking 500 and the Barberspan 500 during his teens and early adult years sparked his ambition to one day compete in off road racing, a dream which was realised when he made his debut as a co-driver with Bevan Bertholdt in the 2000 SA Off Road Championship.
The highlight of his debut year was winning the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 as a co-driver in the Speedstick Raceco and in 2001 he decided to try his hand behind the wheel of an American built Jimco.
Makgekgenene used the 2001 season as a learning exercise and picked up a handful of podium finishes in the SAM Racing Jimco.
The 2002 Barberspan 500 produced one of the closest finishes in the Special Vehicle category and Makgekgenene and Paul Andre emerged the winners after a race-long battle with John Weir-Smith and Tony George and Greg Daus and Trevor Ormerod.
Victory eluded the Motswana for the rest of the 2002 season but he did finish runner-up in the Special Vehicle Championship.
The 2003 season started much the same as the previous year with a win in the season opening Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape but disaster struck on the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 when the electronic engine management system on the SAM Racing Jimco failed 300 metres after the start.
Makgekgenene and co-driver Mike Stangl share the Special Vehicle Championship lead with Nissan Sugarbelt 400 winners Gerald Mundell and Bill Bond in the Prolong BAT and are hoping that they can gain the upper hand on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race.
"I feel that I have matured as a driver, the preparation on the Jimco is excellent as always and I believe that my knowledge of the sandy road conditions in Botswana will be an advantage," said Makgekgenene.
"There is nothing I want more than to win the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in front of my home crowd and Mike and I will do our utmost to ensure that we cross the line first on Sunday afternoon."
The Toyota 1000 Desert Race gets underway on Friday, June 13 with a Prologue to determine starting positions for the main event, which starts at 08h00 the following day. Crews will complete 500km on Saturday, June 14, overnight at Mantshwabisi and complete the 500km run back to Gaborone on Sunday, June 15.