Collin Matiza Sports Editor
A STRONG team of seven top Zimbabwean junior motocross riders will this weekend invade Port Elizabeth, South Africa, for the first round of the 2016 Monster Energy-TRP Distributors South African National Championship series.
The tough seven-round Monster Energy-TRP Distributors South African National Motocross Championship series is spread over seven months with the opening round set for this Saturday at the tough, sandy Rover track in Port Elizabeth.
And it will be all work and no play for seven of Zimbabwe’s top junior motocrossers — Emmanuel Bako, Kuda Mhene (Jnr), Daiyaan Manuel, Davin Cocker, Regan Wasmuth, Josh Gobey and Jordan Dewdney — as they take to the track at Rover on Saturday to tackle their peers from South Africa during this tough one-day motorcycling event.
All eyes in the Zimbabwean camp will be on nine-year-old Bako who has a score to settle with the South African riders who “robbed him” of the 50cc Pro title which was controversially snatched from under his nose by local lad James Thompson on the last day of the series in October last year.
The 50cc Pro Class came down to the wire and was one of the most competitive classes last year. On the last and final round of the series, Thompson won both races and with that, finished tied on points with Zimbabwe’s Bako.
But the organisers of the series later declared Thompson the 2015 50cc Pro champion on the strength that he had more heat wins over Bako during the seven rounds of the series.
And Bako, who is scheduled to fly out to Port Elizabeth on Friday morning, recently indicated that he will be back on the track in South Africa with a vengeance this year as he resumes his rivalry with Thompson in the same Monster Energy-TRP Distributors National Championship series.
Both riders have this year graduated to race in the 65cc A Class after having duelled in the 50cc Class last year.
Another top Zimbabwean junior rider, 12-year-old Mhene (Jnr) will also be in action at Rover this Saturday.
Mhene (Jnr), now a Grade Seven pupil, has moved from 65cc A Class to 85cc Class this year and will be out to impress his new sponsors — Elegance Petroleum Jelly — during the opening round of the 2016 South African Nationals at Rover where he will face one of South Africa’s most exciting young riders Jonathan Mlimi in this section.
He (Mhene (Jnr)) will be joined in the 85cc Class by fellow Zimbabwean biker Davin Cocker.
It will also be interesting to see how another young Zimbabwean rider Regan Wasmuth will fare on Saturday at Rover after he secured a place in one of South Africa’s top motocross racing clubs — Tintswalo, Out of Africa Yamaha Racing Club — for this season.
Mounting a new Yamaha YZ125 bike, Wasmuth will once again be back racing in the 125cc High School Class this year in which he will be joined by fellow Zimbabwean biker Josh Gobey and they will face a strong field of South African riders who include the likes of Seth van den Abeele, Joshua Johnston, Travis Goosen, Cam Thompson, Marco de Vrye, Brendan Botha, Ricky Raaff, Keegan Hickson-Mahony, Nathan Victor, Brett Roberts, Slade Smith, Cayle Dormehl, Jordan Venter, Juan Botha, Matthew Kruger, Robert Toepfer and Ryan Flanagan.
Promising young Zimbabwean biker Jordan Dewdney (8) will also be in action at Rover on Saturday competing in the 50cc Class while the exciting Daiyaan Manuel will be carrying the country’s flag in the 65cc A Class with Bako. Both young riders will fly out to Port Elizabeth on Friday morning.
Sadly, the country’s top female rider Tanya Muzinda is not part of the travelling party to Port Elizabeth this weekend as she is still struggling to get a new bike for the 85cc Class in which she will be riding in this year.
Tanya’s father and trainer, Tawanda, told The Herald yesterday that his daughter has “outgrown riding in the 65cc Class” and has moved up to the 85cc Class for this season.
“Unfortunately Tanya is not going to compete in the first meeting of the South African Nationals in Port Elizabeth this weekend because we are still to get her a new bike since she has outgrown her 65cc bike.
“She was was supposed to be riding in the 65cc Class this year but she has just grown or gone very tall that riding a 65cc bike is now difficult and uncomfortable for her.
“With her height now, it can only be an 85cc bike that she can comfortably ride on. So, this has put our plans of racing in South Africa this coming weekend off. At the moment we are working tirelessly with some well-wishers to get her a new bike,” Tawanda said.