Collin Matiza Sports Editor
MOTOR racing returns to Donnybrook Raceway in Harare on Sunday with the staging of the first round of the 2016 Sables main circuit racing’s National Championship series. With the sport continuing to grow, there are a number of new cars expected to make an appearance at this exciting event. Steve Murton, the 2015 1600cc Saloon car champion recently acquired a turbo-charged kit car which will compete in the Open category which is shaping up to become the hottest contested category with eight cars all capable of lifting the silverware on the day.
The 2015 Open Saloon Class champion Darryl Archibald will be keen to show that his Championship win was not a flash in the pan against the likes of Barney Rogers, Rowan Whyte, Richard “Mahobho” Robinson, Bulawayo’s Byron Norman and Richard Main who will hopefully be making a return after his spectacular crash in practice last year.
In the 2-litre class Ian Howden has swapped his turbo-charged “kit cat” for a Ford Focus and will be out to add the class championship to his Open class medals this year. Ex-motor rally star George Chitepo will be making an appearance in a 2-litre Golf alongside Hilton Harunavamwe, in a Toyota Altezza and Johnny Rodrigues in his Anglia.
In the Open Sports car class Barney Rogers will face stiff competition from schoolboy Fanie van der Linde in a similar turbo-charged Rotary Super 7 while Bulawayo’s Sonny Young will be out to show how his long-awaited turbo-charged Sport 2000 can perform.
The evergreen Eric Heard will always be in the mix with his Yamaha powered 7. Class B Sports cars should again be dominated by veteran Gary Kirk whilst the ultra consistent father and son team of John and Brett Cameron will be out to show how to win Championships.
Gary Bluett and Shaun Kerwin are always a threat and will be chased by relative newcomers in brothers Conrad and Ryan van Reenan and Des Morris who has swapped from being an official to being a competitor.
In the motorcycle section veteran Phil “Archie” Archenoul has indicated that he might be available for Sunday’s event, dismissing reports that he has retired from the sport and a fierce battle is expected between the seasoned biker, top female rider Tiffany Fisher, Les Carlson and Ian Gutherless in the superbikes section.
But they could have their hopes of winning dashed if Shaun Whyte makes a return to this class as expected. With the whole circuit having been resurfaced during the off-season it is expected that lap times will tumble once it has bedded in properly.
In fact, the entire 2,78km track surface at Donnybrook was recently redone and it will be all systems out during Sunday’s opening race meeting of the year, which Temba Mazvimbakupa of the Zimbabwe Motorsport Federation said will be bigger and better.
“Yes, the 2016 main circuit racing is going to be bigger and better and I would like to urge the local motor sport enthusiasts to come to Donnybrook Raceway on Sunday in their thousands to watch what promises to be an exciting first main circuit racing.
“I would also like to urge local sport fans to come and join the fastest growing sport in Zimbabwe as more than 60 cars and super bikes will be competing on Sunday,” Mazvimbakupa said.
Gates on Sunday open at 9am with practice and then the first race will take place at 11am. Entrance is $5 per person with free entry for kids. There will be full bar and catering facilities, jumping castles for the kids and a guarded car park.
Meanwhile, the Bogwheelers Club, who run the motorcycling sport of motocross in Zimbabwe, will this Saturday hold their prize-giving day at Donnybrook where riders who came out tops in different classes during the 2015 season will be rewarded for their efforts on the track.
The event will start from 12noon with the prize-giving set for 5pm followed by a dinner for the riders, invited guests and motocross fans. “It will be a fun-filled day. The track will be prepped to practice and we have an ambulance at the track.
“We will have music and a fully stocked bar with lots of new combos to try! We will be charging $5 per head for dinner and you dish yourselves with salads etc. “Braii packs will be sold separately should you want this option. “There will also be a water slide for the kiddies,” said Warren Dewdney, one of the event’s organisers.