STAR junior motocross rider Emmanuel Bako headlines the predominantly local racers during the annual three-day Zimbabwe Summer Series which revs off at Donnybrook Raceway in Harare this afternoon.
Save for a few Zambians, who have elected to take part in one of the biggest events on Zimbabwe’s motorsport calendar, this year’s competition has largely been turned into a more local event as foreign racers have failed to turn up due to travel restrictions owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, it is out of the organiser’s sheer passion for the sport that has kept the event on the calendar in a difficult year for motorsport, in particular, and sport in general in this country.
Although motorsport was one of the few sports to be greenlighted after a lengthy lockdown in all sporting activities, races in controlled environments have been few and far between.
But the organisers of the Zimbabwe Summer Series, the Bogwheelers Club, have worked tirelessly to bring the event to life although they could do nothing to bring racers from outside the country as is usually the case.
The Bogwheelers Club secretary, Jamie Kerwin, said they are expecting intense competition from the riders, starting with tonight’s Supercross race meeting.
“It is a predominantly local event. We have a few riders from Zambia who happened to be in Zimbabwe, leading up to Christmas, who have elected to ride,” said Kerwin.
“Our expectations for this year’s Zimbabwe Summer Series is to simply keep the spirit of motocross alive until we can freely participate in the sport we love the most.”
She said her club had put in place all health protocols in line with Covid-19 regulations.
“We have put in place all the necessary Covid-19 procedures and protocols. We will continue to strive to maintain social-distancing and good hygiene standards throughout the event.
“The event this year is a bit low-key due to Covid-19 and we have not had many events running up to the Zimbabwe Summer Series, leaving us with little income to host this amazing event. Our committee has worked tirelessly to put on a world class event with all these factors.
“Like I have said, the pandemic has impacted negatively on the event, we have no South Africans traveling to race due to the high costs of Covid-19 tests and limited travel allowed.
“We, however, have Covid-19 procedures and protocols in place and are following them.
“The event is open to the public. However, we cannot gauge how many may attend due to the pandemic. We have all the procedures in place to meet the Covid-19 regulations and guidelines.”
The event opens with the Supercross races this afternoon at 3pm.
Racers will battle it out in the flat track tomorrow from 10am before a full day of some high-octane motocross action on Sunday.
Classes competing for honours include the PeeWees, 50cc, 65cc, 85cc, 125cc, MX1, MX2, Masters and Veterans.
While Bako is expected to dazzle as he has always done in the 85cc and 125cc classes, he should brace for a tough ride against his archrival Daiyaan “D” Manuel and others while Regan Wasmuth should also expect some stiff competition in the MX1 Class.
Young Emile Croisette, who spent two months training under former three-time world motocross champion, Yves Demaria, in France in July and August, is already back in the country and will be competing in the 85cc Class where he will be hoping to go “bumper to bumper” with Bako and Manuel.
Bako’s father and manager, Brighton, yesterday told The Herald that his son was itching to get on the track this weekend after having spent the past two months training and racing in South Africa.
“I can safely say that we are good to go. As you know, Emmanuel has been training and racing in South Africa for the past two months and is back home in Zimbabwe to resume his rivalry on the track with Daiyaan Manuel in this weekend’s Zimbabwe Summer Series.
“His (Emmanuel’s) best friend Emille Croisette will also be racing in the 85cc Class and l think there will be some fireworks in this section,” Brighton “Bucs” Bako said.
After a lengthy absence in the local racing circuit, Quinten Le Roux, who competes in the Masters’ Class, makes a return but he won’t have it on a silver platter against some passionate riders who are gunning for the crown in the same section.
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Seb Wright and Kudzwai Chitsurura are the frontrunners to clinch gold in the 50cc Class while Riley Rocher is the hot favourite in the 65cc Class.
If all goes according to plan, this year’s event will have a 4-year-old rider as the youngest and he will race in the PeeWee 50cc class.
Three female riders are expected to form the field as well but Tadiwanashe Nyamupfukudza will not be available as she is still riding her examinations.
Nyamupfukudza’s young brother, Victor (5), will, however, compete in the PeeWee Class.
The wet conditions are ideal for racing which could help spice up the year-ending national event.
Entry fees for the spectators for each day have been pegged at US$2 for adults and US$1 for children. Kids under 12 years will get in for free. There will be full bar and catering.