Steenkamp plays it safe

HARARE - In an era where many teenagers are imitating rally drivers on the streets, becoming a hazard to bystanders and others drivers, Kevin Steenkamp has remained focused on racing the track and playing it safe.

The 20-year-old motorsport enthusiast was recently rewarded for his wide range of motor racing experience by being selected to participate in the FIA Young Driver Excellency Academy Africa hosted by Motorsport South Africa.

Steenkamp was up against 17 drivers between the ages of 17 and 25 from 12 African countries with competitors being tested on car control, personal fitness, media expertise, teamwork and psychology.

The former St George’s College pupil emerged as one of the six finalists.

He went on to take part in driving shoot-out on Gerotek’s vehicle handling track that saw Johannesburg circuit racing driver Jordan Pepper being the winner.

HIGH-FLYING: Zimbabwe's Kevin Steenkamp finished sixth at the FIA Young Driver Excellency Academy Africa held in South Africa.

“I made it through to the finals which was an achievement in itself but unfortunately was not the winner of the event,” Steenkamp told the Daily News.

The Harare-born driver’s love for the sport begun as a four-year-old when he rode a Yamaha PW50 motorbike.

“I began as far back as I can remember to the days when my father used to take me to local rally and circuit racing events,” he says.

“My first competition was on a Yamaha RT100 trail bike at the Harare Oval Track at the Donnybrook Complex.

“At the age of 14, I was granted special dispensation by the Zimbabwe Motorsports Federation to compete on the dirt Oval Track circuit in the modified saloon car class.

“My first car was a very special modified Ford Anglia 2000cc, with it I was able to learn handling and control.

“At the age of fifteen I competed in my first tar Main Circuit race in a Ford Escort S2000 and in December 2010 I participated in my first race at the prestigious Three Hour Endurance Race.”

The Three Hour Endurance race is annually held in Bulawayo attracting both local and foreign competitors who compete in specially prepared race cars.

Steenkamp, who served as a safety marshal at Zimbabwean round of the Africa Rally Championship, admits that motorsport is an expensive sport.

“To remain in the sport we have to maintain our own cars, my father does all our own engine preparation and car development and I help bodywork and race preparation,” he said.

“Thanks to a few sponsors like Fuchs who provide all the high spec oils, lubricants and coolants and Infinity Tires who provide high quality tires for the endurance races.

“In 2015 we intend to step up our game by competing for the first time in a very special Formula Ford Single Seater, my Ford Sierra circuit car to get an engine and suspension upgrade and my Ford Escort Mk1 Oval Track car to get an engine rebuild.

“Alongside my racing career I feel passionate about safety and being able to compete and push the car to the limits in a safe controlled environment of the track, so I try to encourage safe and responsible driving by the youth and to keep speed and racing on the track and not on the streets."

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