Adrenaline junkies and motorsport lovers in Lome, Togo were treated to a day of high octane highlights on and off the track. This is the first time competitive motorsport has been hosted in a Togolese city centre after the Togo Motorsport Association agreed to issue a license for the event.
In its inaugural edition, the Motorsport Festival saw fans thrilled by the Time Attack segment of the event. The sport of time attack racing is one of the fastest growing types of motorsport around the world. It’s exciting, challenging it attracts more and more enthusiasts who want to try their hand at this ultimate pursuit of speed.
Drivers could not hold back their excitement at the prospect of officially racing on the city streets.
“It's a very easy course because I've raced on it before. It will be easy to manage. This is the first edition so we'll give it all we've got,” said Johas Ahadji, one of the racers.
Increasing incomes in Togo have come with an increase in the demand for customized cars. And mechanics in the informal sector have stepped into the sector, with gusto - and a surprising amount of skill. According to some of the competitors, they took months tuning their cars and getting their hands dirty in a bid to make sure their cars were in the best form before the event.
“It's a car we built ourselves. Everything inside the car has been modified by us,” said Rida Aref, one of the drivers.
Bike riders also swung into action during the event amid cheers from lovers of motorsport stunts, as freestyle motocross riders from across the country battled for top honors. The roaring sound of motorbikes amid cheers from elated fans characterized the atmosphere, as the riders showcased their gravity-defying stunts.
Meet Alexandra Gbadassou, one of the few successful women rally drivers in Togo. A force to be reckoned with, she has set her sights on the challenges of a male dominated sport - motocross.
Dubbed “Mean Lady” by her fans, Alexandra began her racing career in 2009, and as every journey begins with a first step, her racing career began, when she took a shot at what many would have considered impossible.
“I am the only active biker woman in Lome so they thought of me. They called me up and I came. I participated and I really enjoyed it. It's such an adrenaline rush,” she said.
The organizers hope to make the festival an annual event and hope the next festival will be bigger and draw in more crowds.
“This is the first edition of the event; it may not have seemed like it but we thank God that everything went well. We give thanks and hope that the 2nd edition will go as well. We dedicate our success to all the professional bikers in Togo,” said David Atayi, one of the organizers.
Participants who put up sterling performances were awarded with prizes.
As the popularity of motorsports continue to grow in this tiny west African nation, more people are beginning to live off the excitement from the sport and herald competitive advantage in international events.