Veteran Zimbabwean motor rallying driver, Richard Robinson, will make a surprise appearance at this weekend’s Zambia International Rally in Lusaka.
ÂThe 52-year-old driver, who owns a security company and is popularly known as “Mahobho” in the local motor rallying fraternity, will join four other top Zimbabwean drivers – Conrad Rautenbach, Jamie Whyte, Craig Green and Laureen Marufu – in the three-day event, which starts on Friday.
In fact, at the ripe old age of 52, Robinson is likely to be the oldest competitor at this year’s Zambia International Rally.
Mike Exton, one of the top local motor rally organisers, said yesterday that Robinson has entered for this year’s Zambia International Rally and will be driving a Mitsubishi Evo8.
The Zambia International Rally is the third round of the eight-round 2011 FIA African Rally Championship series.
“Richard Robinson has entered to race in the Zambia International Rally and his presence will bring to five the number of Zimbabwean drivers who will be competing in this race.
“This is good for the country because we are going to have a very strong representation in this race in which I’m quite convinced that more than one Zimbabwean driver will be among the top three finishers,” Exton said.
Robinson will be competing in his second event of the year after he finished fifth in the Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally in March where he had Colin Schreiber as his navigator.
Exton himself is also competing in the Zambia International Rally where he will be navigating for his longtime partner Green in a Mitsubishi Evo8.
Green is one of three Zimbabwean drivers who are registered for this year’s FIA ARC series but he is yet to get any points on board after he failed to last the distance in the opening two rounds of the continental competition – the Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally in Harare in March and last month’s Sasol Rally in Nelspruit, South Africa.
This has seen Green living in the shadows of two fellow ARC-registered Zimbabwean drivers Rautenbach and Whyte who are the early pacesetters in the competition’s 2011 Drivers Standings.
Rautenbach is leading the chase for this year’s overall ARC Drivers’ crown with 50 points, 17 ahead of the reigning African champion Whyte.
Muna Singh of Zambia is lying in third place with 24 points going into this weekend’s third round of the 2011 ARC series – the Zambia International Rally.
And Exton admitted yesterday that they (him and Green) will have their hands full when they take on some of the continent’s top motor rallying crews in this weekend’s tough event in Lusaka.
“Unfortunately we blew our chances of winning this year’s ARC title by failing to finish in the first two rounds of the competition in Zimbabwe and South Africa. But we are going to have fun in the sun in Zambia where we will also be hoping to make our presence felt in this event in which competition will obviously be stiff for us,” Exton said.
He tipped his fellow Zimbabwean Rautenbach to take the first podium place at the end of the race in Lusaka on Sunday afternoon.
“Conrad has a very powerful car, an S2000 Class Ford Fiesta. He’s currently on a high and he will be the man to beat in Lusaka at the weekend.
“Our other colleague, Jamie Whyte, is also a strong contender for a top three finish because he has always done well in this event in the past.
“The Zambians, who will be led by Muna Singh, are also hard to beat in their own home soil but you never know what will happen during the course of this event because motor rallying is a very funny game and anything can happen on the final day which can produce a surprise winner,” Exton said.
Exton and Green left Harare for Lusaka yesterday where they will join Whyte, Rautenbach, Robinson and female driver Marufu, who is set to make her maiden appearance in a major international event outside Zimbabwe at the Zambia International Rally.
Rautenbach and Robinson also left for Lusaka yesterday while Whyte and Marufu are already in the Zambian capital ahead of today’s recce.
Real action will start on Friday afternoon with the staging of the opening 1.54km Super Special stage at the home of Zambian motorsport – Lusaka Motor Club – in the showgrounds after the ceremonial flag off at the Hotel Inter-Continental. Racing will continue on Saturday and Sunday in and around the surrounding areas of Lusaka before the teams head back to Hotel Inter-Continental for the prize giving ceremony on Sunday afternoon.