Collin Matiza Sports Editor
YOUNG Austin Chitepo is set to enter the history books of local motor racing today when he becomes one of the few blacks to take part in the country’s biggest motorsport event – the Toyota Zimbabwe/hp lubes Castrol 3-hour Endurance Race – at Bulawayo Motorsport Park in Bulawayo.
Chitepo (21), son to former top local motor rally driver George Chitepo, started off as a biker at the age of 11 before he followed his father’s footsteps and became a motor racing driver last year when he was 20 years old.
And today he will make his debut appearance in the 3-hour endurance car race where he hopes to make his presence felt racing under #teamaussie43 in a Corrolla RXI.
Austin Chitepo will join a number of Zimbabwe’s veteran motor racing drivers who today will descend on Bulawayo Motorsport Park for the biggest motorsport event of the year.
By yesterday, the Toyota Castrol 3-hour endurance car race had more than 31 entries and among them is a team of seasoned local motor racing drivers made up of three “old war-horses” – Richard “Mahobho” Robinson, Ian Howden and Stuart Haddon.
Robinson, Howden and Haddon will share Robinson’s turbo-charged Toyota Corolla 1600cc in this year’s 3-hour endurance race.
Although not the fastest car in Zimbabwe, car 28 has proven to be very reliable and is always in the mix.
In 2017 this car finished 3rd in the 3-hour endurance and the drivers are hoping to do better this year and climb up the podium.
The 3-hour is an endurance event and as such the aim is to drive consistently and stay out of trouble in the first half hour when the cars are jockeying for position and still in sprint mode.
Coupling this with minimum efficient stops should see the car fighting for first place at the finish.
In fact, fireworks will be the order of the day in the 3-hour car endurance race which has also attracted 61-year-old Steve Murton who will be sharing a Toyota Corrolla 1600cc with Kevin Allmark.
Murton has been doing main circuit racing since 2012 and he won the under 1600cc category championship in 2015. Prior to that he did rallying from 1978 in both Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Harare’s Barney Rogers, in his Mazda RX7 which he will be sharing with Farnie van de Linde, will also be in action on today together with Wayne Jardine from Bulawayo who will be sharing his car with Deon Slabbert from South Africa.
Jardine said: “This is the fourth time I have raced the Bulawayo 3-hour and won it in 2016. I will be competing in a VW Polo 6r with Deon Slabbert who is twice an East Cape and Border champion 2000 and Technical consultant for Polo Cup for seven years as well as Formula Volkswagen. Deon is also the VW Factory quality engineer in Port Elizabeth. We hope to have a good finish in our class.”
Apart from the three-hour car endurance, today’s event will also have a one-hour bike endurance featuring a number of top Zimbabwean and South African male and female Superbike riders, including James Marsberg from Bulawayo and the sensational female biker Jessica Howden (15).
Seventeen-year-old Marsberg will be riding in the 250cc Class. This is his third one-hour endurance race.
“I would like to thank Vic Rich and the Monroe Racing Team of South Africa for the use of a Monroe Honda, (and it’s) going to be an awesome event. Will be racing with the Monroe team. Thank you to BMC for this event,” Marsberg said.
So, local motorsport fans have been urged to make their way to Bulawayo today for this adrenalin-filled day of motorsport.
Gates open from 8am with entrance for adults set at $5 each and kids under 12 get in for free. There will be a full bar and catering and cash, ecocash and swipe will be accepted.
This is one not to be missed so make sure you cancel all your plans and make your way down to the track for a competitive, fun-filled day of speed.