The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Masimo Raring to Go

THE 2013 Zimbabwe motorsport season officially gets underway tomorrow with the staging of the first motocross event of the year at Donnybrook in Harare. All the country's top motocross riders are expected to attend tomorrow's event and among them will be promising young rider Ryan Masimo, who has moved from the Pee Wee Class (for competitors under the age of nine) to the 50cc Class.

In fact, seven-year-old Masimo, a Grade Three Pupil at St John's Preparatory School in Harare, is looking forward to this season after putting up some solid performances last year in the Pee Wee Class where he was placed third overall in the Bogwheelers Club national championships behind Big "BJ" Chitima (Junior) and Tanya Muzinda.

And after coming third in the national championships, Masimo gained some measure of revenge over his rival Muzinda, beating her into second place in the year-end Zimbabwe Summer Series which was held over four days at Donnybrook during the second week of December last year.

In the Summer Series' Pee Wee Class, Masimo wrapped up things ahead of Muzinda by amassing a total of 285 points while the latter accumulated 279 points to settle for second place.

However, Masimo and Muzinda will not be rekindling their rivalry in this year's national championships as they will be riding in different classes.

Eight-year-old Muzinda will this year be fighting for top honours in the 65cc B Class after her father, Tawanda, with the help of some well-wishers, bought her brand new Kawasaki 65 motorcycle towards the end of last season.

And it's no secret that Muzinda will miss her exciting duels with Masimo in this year's national championships, whose first meet will be staged tomorrow at Donnybrook.

Masimo got into motocross towards the end of 2011 after he was introduced to this demanding but very exciting sport by his father, Innocent.

Ryan's first bike was a Yamaha PW 50 but this year he will be riding a more powerful KTM 50 and his father, Innocent, was this week convinced that his son would sweep all before himself in the 50cc Class during this year's national championships.

"I've no doubt that Ryan will come out tops in this class judging from his performances in the 2012 Summer Series.

"The boy just loves his sport. He's now more confident on the bike and he's gained some experience. I personally think he will be the man or boy to beat rather in the 50cc Class this year," Innocent Masimo said.

But what prompted him to push his son into taking motocross as a sport?

"I introduced Ryan to motocross because it's a different type of sport altogether. I didn't want him to take part in ordinary sports like soccer and basketball. I wanted him to do something completely different.

"To compete in motocross, one has to be dedicated and well disciplined, and he or she must be a very fast thinker as well. These are the basic ingredients of being a competitive motocross rider and I'm seeing all these things in Ryan.

"But the most interesting thing of all is that since he started taking part in motocross events, his school work has vastly improved and his grades are getting better and better," Innocent Masimo said.

Ryan, who is also a good swimmer and a cricketer, is the last born in a family of three and his other siblings -- sisters Claire (12) and Ashley (9) -- are also into sport as they compete in athletics events at school but the latter has got a soft spot for motor rallying.

Innocent Masimo said his dream is to see his son Ryan turning into a professional motocross rider.

"But the first step is for him to go and compete against fellow top junior riders in South Africa where motocross is strong.

"I would like him to go and ride in South Africa most probably next year and we will take it up from there."

Innocent Masimo said he does not want to only promote his son Ryan in motocross as he would also like to join fellow trainer Big "Bigs" Chitima in taking the sport to the underprivileged children.

"What I would like to emphasise is that I want this sport to grow or get bigger and spread it to the underprivileged children from places like Harare's high-density suburbs of Mbare, Highfield, Glen Norah, Warren Park as well as Chitungwiza.

"I think we should engage Government and the City of Harare so that they can give us a piece of land where we can put up a motocross track in Highfield or Mbare which are more central places in Harare.

"This will help us in popularising the sport as more and more people will get acquainted to this very exciting sport. People must be encouraged to come and watch motocross and get to understand it.

"I would also like to urge or call upon the corporate world to come into motocross and sponsor it in a big way because the sport is growing fast in this country.

"They (the sponsors) must not only be confined to supporting soccer alone.

"There are other minority sports, like motocross, which are also doing well and being run professionally in this country," Innocent Masimo said.

But Innocent Masimo's immediate task is to help his son Ryan win his first event of the year when the 2013 motocross season gets underway at Donnybrook tomorrow.

At tomorrow's event, Ryan is likely to be joined by a host of other top local junior riders such as Big "BJ" Chitima (Junior), Tanya Muzinda, Tristan Grainger, James Dean Harrison, Joshua Bailey, Davin Cocker, Reagan and Cole Bond, Kuda Mhene, Mudiwa Chigumba and the Evans brother, Reagan and John.

The country's top senior riders will also be in action tomorrow and they include the likes of former national champion Ashley Thixton, Jayden and Wade Ashwell, Broc Thomas, Cameron Thixton and Regan Wasmuth.

Meanwhile, the Bogwheelers Club, who run motocross in this country, will this afternoon hold their annual meeting which will be immediately followed by their 2012 prize-giving function at Sables Motorsport Club in Harare.

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