|Posted on April 18, 2018 at 4:40 AM|
It has certainly been a long break away from competitive main circuit racing for the fastest lady rider in South Africa, but Nicole van Aswegen certainly showed the Bulawayo crowd that she didn’t lose her touch on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Hard work paid off with her celebrating a host of strong results against a quality field of riders.
Following time away from the circuit for personal reasons during the past 18 months, Van Aswegen made her return to racing in the SAMRA 250 Ladies Cup at the start of the 2018 season. This led to a host of successful main circuit test sessions for the Monroe Racing team followed by an invitation to join them on their Zimbabwean campaign in the absence of regular rider Zoé Bosch.
Friday afternoon saw the talented lady from Gauteng being greeted by a host of firsts. For starters it was her first time out at the Bulawayo Motorsport Park circuit; a very fast track with an uneven surface. It was also her first competitive outing on the Kawasaki ZX-6R. It didn’t take her long to get to grips with all the new challenges thrown her way and despite running on warn tyres, she ended the day confident about her chances for Saturday’s qualifying session and races.
Saturday morning saw her improving her time by another two second during the final practice session. The qualifying session saw her securing P5 on the grid; a solid effort considering that she participated in the session with warn tyres.
After a change of tyres she was ready to start her the first race. With this being her first race start on the machine, she lost positions but wasted no time in regaining her fifth place. A host of consistently competitive laps saw her keep this position till the chequered flag. During the second race she made a better start and progressed to fourth place in the running order. Unfortunately a missed gear saw her losing out to local rider Matthew Schultz during the closing stages of the race, resulting in another fifth position after an entertaining tussle which had the crowd on their feet.
All national championship days in Zimbabwe are concluded with a handicap race; another first for Van Aswegen. During this she did a superb job to finish in ninth position.
What was evident to all present was the manner in which Van Aswegen competed on the day. She showed that despite her relatively long absence, she never lost her touch. Finishing behind regular champions and seasoned campaigners does not come easy and she truly lived up to her reputation of being South Africa’s fastest female racer.
A delighted Van Aswegen fondly looks back on the weekend: “It was one of my favourite weekends competing. It felt great to be back on a 600cc machine and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the road ahead. I’d like to thank Monroe Racing’s Team Manager Vic Rich for his confidence shown in me and support throughout the weekend. I’d also like to thank everyone at the circuit who assisted during the weekend, the level of comradery in Zimbabwe is truly unrivalled. Further I’d like to thank our sponsors Monroe South Africa and Fuchs Lubricants South Africa for their support. Lastly I’d sincerely like to thank Fuchs Lubricants in Zimbabwe and Banff Lodge Hotel for the amazing hospitality during our trip to Zimbabwe. I’m looking forward to returning.”
Published by: Reynard Gelderblom
Picture Caption: Nicole van Aswegen has every reason to smile confidently after her solid return to main circuit racing following an 18 month absence