Collin Matiza Sports Editor
THE 2018 FIM Africa Motocross of African Nations Championships which were held in Kitwe, Zambia, last weekend saw Zimbabwe producing three continental champions in the 125cc, MX2 and Veterans classes despite the country’s riders playing second fiddle to their peers from South Africa.
Zimbabwe sent a strong team of more than 40 riders to this year’s African Championships where they once again finished second behind South Africa in the overall team standings of this annual motorcycling event which attracted more than 200 junior and senior male and female bikers from six countries – Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the hosts Zambia.
Riders from Team Zimbabwe amassed a total of 664 points to finish second behind South Africa who garnered a massive 794 points to retain the African title which they won in Botswana last year.
But Zimbabwe got the consolation of first coming out with two continental champions in young Regan Wasmuth (17) and Ashley Thixton (25) who were the best riders in the 125cc and MX2 classes respectively.
They were joined by Warren Thorne who also came first in the Veterans Class as Zimbabwe claimed three first places on the podium at the end of the two-day 2018 FIM Africa Motocross of African Nations Championships which ran from August 18 to 19 at Mindola Park in Kitwe.
But full credit should go to the country’s former champion rider Thixton who, unlike his South Africa-based teammate Wasmuth, rides on a part-time basis here in Zimbabwe and coming out tops in the MX2 Class at the African Championships where he rode against young and faster riders is something which is quite commendable.
The other individuals who did well for Team Zimbabwe in Zambia were Doug Mellor (2nd overall in the Veterans Class), Jayden Ashwell (2nd overall in the main MX1 Class), Daiyaan Manuel (3rd overall in the 85cc MX Lites), Emmanuel Bako (4th overall in the 65cc Class), Tristan Grainger (4th overall in the 125cc Class) and Shane Thomas (4th overall in the Masters Class).
And Wasmuth was over the moon after he was crowned the best racer on the continent in the 125cc Class at this year’s African Championships.
“Saturday (was Day 1) and practice was super and I was keen to get the first few laps in and loved the track. In the second practice session I had to put in some good laps for a good lap time for qualifying. Myself and Justin (Sangster of South Africa) managed to put in an identical lap time of a 1:31.370 being tied for the fastest lap,’’ he said.
“And then in Race 1, I got a decent start going through the first corner in 4th place. I got myself into 2nd place coming out of the second corner and wasted no time getting into the lead two corners later. From there on I had to put in a charge to keep myself up in front and loving the track just made it that little bit easier.
“On Day 2 (on Sunday), I had a warm-up . . . This was just a little bit of time to get some laps in again before the action started, so I had some fun on the track.
“And then in Race 2, I started all the way on the outside so there was no chance of getting boxed in, and it seemed to work. I came sweeping through the first corner and came out the second corner in 1st place. Once again I had one goal and that was to keep up in front.
“I put in two hot laps and almost got caught out on lap 3 when trying to change a line and almost high sided which woke me up. From there I just had to put my head down again and charge to extend my gap.’’