Some riders pay their dues for years in the minor leagues, honing their craft in short-circuit and club racing before they get their big break in regional or national series. Others seem to explode on to the racing scene out of nowhere, operating on sheer talent and drive.
Namibian youngster Ronald Slamet is one of the latter; he grew up in a family of bikers (his father, brother and sister are all riders) but never even considered a career in motorsport.
Then, late in 2009, at the ripe old age of 21, he rode a few laps of the Windhoek circuit on a Yamaha R1 at an open track day and discovered that this was what he wanted to do with his life.
At the end of that year he entered a Yamaha R6 in the Breakfast Run Grand Prix at Cape Town’s All Bike Race Day, qualifying on pole for his very first race in a field of mostly litre-class superbikes. He fluffed his first-ever race start but moved into the lead on lap four and waltzed away to win by nearly seven seconds, with a fastest lap of 1min21.6. He did even better in Race 2 with a best effort of 1min21.47, leading every lap and coming home 6.4 seconds clear of the field.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
He entered a few Western Cape Regionals during 2010 but didn’t set the Killarney circuit on fire so, with the enthusiastic backing of his family, he embarked on a full season in 2011. The results were spectacular, as he won the 600 Challenge in his first full season of racing and was awarded Rookie of the Year.
For 2012, with some backing from a local dealer, Slamet moved up to the litre class on a second-hand BMW S1000RR, finishing second in the Regional championship to the immensely talented David ‘McFlash’ McFadden and scoring a couple of top-five National championship results at Killarney.
Now 24, Slamet’s talent has been recognised by Western Province Regional series sponsor Mike Hopkins; he will start the 2013 on the championship-winning ex-McFadden Kawasaki ZX-10R with full backing from Mike Hopkins Motorcycles and the stated intention of winning the Regional title in only his second year in the premier class and then moving up to a full-strength assault the SA Superbike series in 2014.
And if previous results are anything to go by, South Africa’s Superbike superstars had better start looking over their shoulders. Remember, you heard it here first.