Pics by Gareth Davidson
13 December marked a very special day in Kyalami’s calendar, it’s the first Yamaha R World Track Experience hosted by Bidvest at this iconic revamped venue but what made this day really special was that, for the first time, we had Maverick Viñales here as well.
Yamaha ran a special over the last few months whereby any person who purchased either an R6 or R1 would get a ticket to ride with Viñales but like with all superstars, a file an inch thick preceded him and the guys locally had to jump through many hoops to make sure that everything was perfect. One thing that surprised me was that there were four bodyguards around him at all times, wherever he went, they were with him; a little like travelling with the president I thought. When I chatted to one of the guards, they just said that they could not let someone with such a high profile have even the slightest incident, and hence the high level of security. In any case, the rules of engagement with Maverick were so strict on one side but once he arrived he was the nicest possible guy, just one of the lads. He jumped on his stock standard R1 and did a few laps with all our top SA riders and in true good sportsmanship, took his own girlfriend out on our very own 2-seater R1. He did not care too much about which group or where or how, he just wanted to ride and he loved the track. The day had various activities where riding was the main one but one special moment was the MotoGP-like interview with Viñales where everybody hung on to his every word. What a privilege to have such a front row experience and all of that just for owning a Yamaha.
The highlight of the day was when the Motorsport voice of choice, Greg Moloney, called the winner of the bike, Justin Mathie from KwaZulu-Natal who was handed the keys to a brand new bike right there and then. What a prize to win!
In summary, a word of thanks needs to go out to Yamaha Japan and the Movistar MotoGP team who facilitated this event and also to Peter Wilkins and Mark Roach from Yamaha SA, who took a huge risk to put forward a day like this. You guys made your brand rock and the bar is set very high for future events. Let’s hope something happens in 2018?