Maxime van Pee has every reason to mark 2014 as a special calendar year in his sporting career.
Van Pee was crowned both Ugandan and regional East and Central Africa motocross champion this year. Nothing beats such feat for the 22-year-old rider taking home two championships’ titles in a single season.
First, Van Pee clinched the national title in style by sweeping the top honours in all events on the eight-round Seniors’ Category (MX1) Championship. In a consistent and memorable show of skills on the track, Van Pee won three and five events at Busiika and Garuga circuits respectively.
On every competitive weekend, the brave young rider entertained and won over as many motorcross fans while leaving his challengers who included former champion Arthur Blick in the wake of his dust. So emphatic and domineering was this title triumph that Van Pee’s 474 points collected from eight rounds this season is the highest so far in his MX1 career.
Understandably, the champion has also earned praise from his former title challengers, including runner-up Blick, who collected 398 points. Talha Kiggundu (298pts) finished third runner-up in the championship title race.
Between August and September, Van Pee extended his season’s rich vein of form to Kenya and Zambia for regional events to wrap up the East and Central Africa title. In Kenya, Van Pee finished second and came fourth in Zambia.
Both were respectable position finishes and proved good enough for the Ugandan star to seal the regional crown. Before going to Kenya and Zambia events, Van Pee had used home aantage by collecting Van Peeum points from two rounds (in Kampala), which scored for both national and regional championships.
Van Pee has vowed to replicate such triumph in the coming years and targets to break Arthur Blick’s hold and record onto the national title.
9-year-old Fortune Ssentamu (398pts), also USPA motocross Rider of the Year 2013, lived up to the billing by edging Ben Nsumba (392 points) to the 65CC category championship title this year. Remarkably, Ssentamu recovered from a serious leg injury (which forced him to skip the third round of the championship) to beat eight-year-old Nsumba in a closely contested title race.
In-between, Nsumba, who finished the season as runner-up with 392 points, had taken the lead in the title race.
With pressure from consistent riders such as Waleed Omar, Ben Nsumba, Joshua Mwangala and Anold Nyanzi, the race for the title in this category proved a tight affair throughout the season. However, there was consolation for Nsumba, who despite losing out on the national crown, went on to clinch the East and Central Africa title in the same category.
In the MX2 category, 16-year-old Fatuh Kiggundu (388 points) won his maiden championship title after beating off challenge from Michael Ntayiro (313pts) and Ahmed Tamale (255pts) in second and third runners-up spots respectively. Fatuh’s triumph confirmed the Kiggundus family hold on this category, after his big brother, Talha, won the title last season but stepped up to MX1 this year.
Ali Omar Yasser (446 points) had a smooth ride to the 85CC category title. His only serious challengers in Blick brothers Alestair (389pts) and Paddy (337pts), were not as big a threat to his run-away lead in the championship.
Off individual riders, Team Uganda won the Central African motocross championship after Kenya’s failure to show up for the third and final round held in Busiika early this month (December).
However, Team Uganda’s triumph came on the back of struggles, especially financial hardships. Without organized national team funding, individual riders dipped into own pockets to cater for their expenses while on country duty for the Kenyan and Zambian legs of the championship in Nairobi and Lusaka respectively.
It’s against this background that officials in-charge of sport’s administration will be under pressure next season to attract sponsors to motocross, which has become a big crowd puller over the years.
Source : The Observer