Karting driver Mapiro lands in Italy

STRAIGHT ON TO IT . . . Young Zimbabwean karting driver Takunda Mapiro (right) and his mechanic Zac Dufty prepare the new kart in Italy yesterday

YOUNG Zimbabwean karting driver Takunda “TK” Mapiro landed in Italy yesterday to start an intensive two weeks of practice and competition at the South Garda Karting Circuit in Lonato, Italy.

This weekend he will be competing in the Italian national ROK finals, dubbed the “Tropheo Cup”, and on October 14 he will line up on the grid for the ROK Cup World Finals.

The 11-year-old Mapiro first stepped into a kart just 22 months ago at Pole Position Karts rental track in Eastlea, Harare.

He so enjoyed the experience that he begged to go back each weekend. 2021 karting champion, Zac Dufty, soon took notice of the youngster with the naturally smooth style and offered him some coaching to improve his times.

Within months, TK, as he is more often known as, was setting the fastest laps in his age-group on the rental track during coaching sessions.

“I just loved it and wanted to do even better!” grinned TK.  Dufty suggested to TK’s family that if TK wanted to take karting more seriously, he would need to purchase a racing kart.

Dufty also offered TK a place in his Zacademy kart team.  The Mapiros were keen to let TK chase his dreams and within a few months, TK was driving in the Mini ROK Class of the Zimbabwe ROK Cup Championship.

“It was like a dream come true. I had to work hard and I put in lots of practice. With Zac’s coaching, based on his own experience of driving, I could see myself getting faster each race,” Mapiro said.

The Kosmic Mini ROK kart ran well from the beginning and Dufty ensured that it received regular maintenance and attention after each race — a service which he provides for the other members of the academy as well.

The 2022 ROK Cup Zimbabwe was Mapiro’s first experience of a race kart championship.

Competing over six rounds, each meeting was a challenge for the new driver. Exacting race regulations, put in place to ensure safety and fair racing, needed to be learned and put into practice.

Physical fitness is also a consideration with young drivers in this class having to cope with considerable forces placed on their bodies as they manoeuvre through fast corners and long straights.  Mapiro finished a respectable fourth place in his first championship.

The 2023 ROK Cup Zimbabwe series started in May at the new National Sports Stadium kart track and saw a total of six races being hotly-contested between competitors in the class.


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