Collin Matiza Sports Editor
SHAUN Whyte, a former National Superbike Champion in South Africa, is the 2018 Toyota Zimbabwe/hp lubes Castrol 1-hour motorbike endurance champion.
The 48-year-old veteran Zimbabwean rider won his fourth 1-hour motorbike Endurance Race title in some style after an early challenge from Damion Purificati of South subsided towards the end of the race during this year’s Toyota Zimbabwe/hp lubes Castrol 3-hour Endurance Race meeting at Bulawayo Motorsport Park in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Mounting a Ducati 848 and competing in the 1-hour bike endurance race which had a good field of 11 bikers from South Africa, the United Kingdom and the hosts Zimbabwe, Whyte was the star of the show during this exciting one-day event which also featured a 3-hour car endurance race that was won by Stuart Haddon from Harare in a turbo-charged Toyota Corrolla 1600cc #28.
In the 1-hour bike endurance race, Whyte took the first step on the podium ahead of Purificati of South Africa while another Zimbabwean rider Doug Mellor settled for a credible third-place finish.
In fact, Mellor, who is also into motocross riding, was competing in the 1-hour endurance race for the first time at the Bulawayo Motorsport Park and he showed no ghost of inferiority complex as he paced well with the seasoned campaigners Whyte and Purificati to shepherd his Yamaha R6 #49 to a third-place finish.
Carl Olsen came fourth in the 1-hour bike endurance race ahead of the country’s sensational female rider Jessica Howden.
Racing against men, 15-year-old Howden first came first in 250 Class and then second in the Index of Performance before finishing fifth overall in the 1-hour bike endurance race. But the day on Saturday belonged to Whyte who was crowned this year’s 1-hour bike endurance champion for his fourth title after having won it previously in 1990, 1995 and 2015.
Whyte’s latest exploits on the track at Bulawayo Motorsport Park saw him lifting the Waterworth Challenge Trophy which was first unveiled way back in 1929 – what a prized possession for him.
On Saturday, Whyte took the lead in the first 10 minutes of the race before two South African riders, who included Purificati, and a rider from the UK, Conner Rossi Thompson, passed him as they threatened to sprint clear of the rest of the field once the track had dried sufficiently for slick tyres.
But the UK rider later saw his bike having an electrical problem and this allowed Purificati (33), piloting a BMW #88 bike, taking a narrow lead over Whyte as he sat just right behind him for another 10 minutes. Purificati and another rider from South Africa then picked up their pace more but a calculating Whyte was just pacing himself before he went for a quick pit stop to refuel his bike.
Soon after Whyte went from third to second place behind Mat Schultz from Bulawayo, on his Yamaha R6, after passing the two South African riders and four laps later Purificati was having some problems with his bike and Whyte didn’t realise that the South African had ran out of fuel and had to limp back to the pits.
This opened the way for Whyte to reorganise himself, taking the lead of the race and then began building an advantage for himself to cross the finish line first.
And sadly after his latest triumph, Whyte announced that he has now quit riding Superbikes and he will, from next year, be coaching aspiring young riders.
“I’ve been into Superbike riding for more than 20 years now and since I will be turning 49 next year, I’ve decided to retire and this will see me coaching a number of promising youngsters as from next year,” Whyte said.
Meanwhile, before the 1-hour bike endurance race on Saturday, there was a sprint race which saw one of the country’s top bikers Warren Thorne having a big crash on his Kawa ZX 10 and he sustained a neck injury but he is reported to be out of danger and recovering from his home in Harare. Saturday also saw the Bulawayo Motorsport Park hosting the 3-hour car endurance race which was won by seasoned local motor racing driver Stuart Haddon (51). Second place went to Harare’s Jim Perry, in a BMW, while Phillip Minnaar from Bulawayo, in BMW E30 3.0l #69, settled for third position.
There were 36 cars in the 3-hour car endurance race.