He’s known among his racing mates as a lunatic, but to 18-year-old motorbike racing sensation Leungo Gaorekwe, the only thing that’s insane is the amount of sheer talent and determination he has to reach the top of his sport.
Born in Mahikeng, North West, Gaorekwe is in his second season with the King Price Xtreme team, which is led by eight-time SA Superbike champion Clint Seller.
Gaorekwe’s interest in motorbike racing kicked in when he was eight years old, after his father swapped his quad bike for an off-road motorbike.
Since then, there’s been no stopping the daredevil teen. He won 150 championships in 2018, and in 2019 he was invited to take part in the Redbull Rookies MotoGP selection event in Spain and also turned out in the SuperSport 300 class.
He won back-to-back championships in 2020 and last year. In September, Gaorekwe is set to compete in Spain in the SuperSport 600 class.
When he’s not tearing up the track, the Lonehill International Academy scholar plays hockey, soccer and tennis. For riders who aspire to make it in motorbike racing, Gaorekwe shared these tips:
Source a sponsor
There’s no way around it. Racing is an expensive sport. If you’re going to make it at all in racing, you’re going to need someone to back you financially. Tyres are one of the major costs involved.
The amount you spend depends on the budget available. If you had to put a number on running a superbike for a year, it would be about R1 million. That’s why we’re incredibly fortunate to have a sponsor such as King Price Xtreme, which understands what it takes to be part of a racing team.
They don’t just help me win titles, they also play an amazing role in youth development.
Spend time on the bike
The best way to learn to ride is by riding.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be all-track riding, either. A good motocross or off-road background, or even mountain biking helps young riders develop the muscle memory they need to ride without thinking so that they can focus on racing tactics.
Again, I’m fortunate to be involved with a team that’s able to practise often enough to continuously hone my skills and keep me fit.
Being mentored by Seller, who is one of South Africa’s most successful riders, is a huge bonus for me as well.
Stay in shape
Racing is extremely physical. To be a good, fast and safe rider, you need to be in great shape. It takes a lot of dedication and motivation to become a good racer. You can’t just focus on riding the bike, you have to pay attention to your whole lifestyle, even on days when you’re not riding.
Once you have this focus, the mental side falls into place.
Physical training off the bike is very important. I train four to five times a week. I also watch what I eat so that I’m always in the best shape possible.
Get the best bike you can afford
As anyone who watches motorsport will know, to be the best, you have to be on the best.
Keep your bike and kit insured
Motorbikes and riding gear are extremely expensive items, and you should insure them accordingly. Whether being used as an everyday mode of transport or an adrenaline rush on the weekends, insuring your assets is an absolute must, and the same applies to your gear.
Determination and hard work are vital, but it’s also important to form a partnership with a sponsor. To do so, one has to be marketable and make sure you always stick to the agreed terms and conditions of the contract.
It’s important to stay humble and motivate other youngsters through the sport you are passionate about. My advice is to keep dreaming and work hard at achieving your goals.