Collin Matiza Sports Editor
FAST-RISING local motocross rider Daiyaan Manuel stole the limelight from his fellow young Zimbabwean riders during the opening round of the 2016 Monster Energy-TRP Distributors South African National Championship series at Rover in Port Elizabeth on Saturday where he took a credible second place finish in the 65cc A Class. Competing in a strong field of 19 riders in the 65cc A Class, 10-year-old Manuel did himself and the nation proud when he took the second step on the podium behind South Africa’s Hayden Tully.
On Saturday, Manuel, the 2014 South African 50cc Pro champion, was just a ball of fire as he got a first in heat one and then a second in heat two to emerge second overall behind local lad Tully in the 65cc A Class.
In fact, Manuel and Tully finished the day tied on 47 points each but the latter took the first step on the podium after winning heat two.
But Manuel was satisfied by his overall performance and he thanked his sponsors — Thor, Motul & Juggler Investments — for all their help.
Another top Zimbabwean rider, nine-year-old Emmanuel Bako, took part in the same 65cc A Class at Rover track on Saturday but had a day to forget as he found the going tough in this section where he finished a disappointing 14th place overall.
It was just a bad day in the office for Bako as his back tyre bolt went off after a crash in the first lap and then he crashed up the hill in the desert sand-like area of the Rover track and the young Zimbabwean rider’s handlers acknowledged after the race on Saturday that this was one of his toughest outings on the international scene.
“This was the toughest track ever in South Africa. There were more riders (19) than ever but our boy fought hard despite a lot of falling on the desert sand-like track . . . It was very tough indeed for Emmanuel as it was his first time riding on this track which is much bigger than the one at Donnybrook in Harare.
“But it’s only the beginning for Emmanuel as we hope that he will improve and move up the ladder in the following rounds of the South African nationals,” Bako’s father and manager, Brighton, said from Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Rover motocross track in Port Elizabeth really proved to be a bit challenging but some of the young Zimbabwean riders did the nation proud by finishing in the top three and they include eight-year-old Jordan Dewdney who came third overall in the 50cc Class. Dewdney was not overawed by the occasion on Saturday as he rode brilliantly to come third in the 50cc Class behind two South African riders Neil van der Vyver and Seth Young.
The promising Zimbabwean biker managed to amass the same number of points (42) with second-placed Young while van der Vyver took the first step on the podium with 50 points after winning both heats on Saturday.
There were 16 riders in the 50cc Class and Dewdney was the only Zimbabwean who took part in this section.
Dewdney’s teammate in Team Zimbabwe, Kuda Mhene (Jnr), also did well to finish in sixth place in the 85cc Class where the first three places went to South African riders Christiaan Cilliers (45 points), Ike Klassen (45 points) and Jonathan Mlimi (44 points).
Mhene (Jnr) collected 32 points to finish sixth overall in this class which had a field of 10 riders.
Another top Zimbabwean junior rider Davin Cocker competed in the Pro Mini Class and came fourth overall with 36 points. The first three places went to South African bikers Cameron Durow (50 points), Justin Sangster (44 points) and Camden McLellan (39 points). The Pro Mini Class had 16 riders and Cocker made his presence felt in this section as he managed to finish fourth overall to cap a good day for the Zimbabwean riders at the tough Rover track in Port Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon.
The second of the seven-round 2016 South African National Championship series will held at Zone 7 in Cape Town on April 2.