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20 May 2024

South African teen dreams of becoming first Black racer in MotoGP

By Reuters

As 14-year old Oratilwe Phiri whizzes past his father on a black and turquoise motorcycle at a racetrack east of Johannesburg, he has one goal in mind: to one day be the first Black person to race in MotoGP.

Ora - as he is known - has been racing since he was four, thanks to an interest ignited by his motorcycle enthusiast father Thabiso Phiri.

With a towel and a spray bottle in hand, an excited Thabiso keeps himself busy as he readies Ora's bike for yet another race.

"I can't put it into words. He makes me so proud," said Thabiso, who had to sell his own motorbike to invest in Ora's dream.

is also shared by his coach Thabiso Khumalo, who says Ora has the right mindset to succeed.

Grand Prix motorcycle racing historically has been dominated by European racers. The teenager's idol Brad Binder - who he met last month - is the first and only South African to win a race in MotoGP.

Dressed in riding gear, Ora revs up his bike and says he is driven by the lack of Black representation in the sport overseas.

"(To) be the first Black person to be racing overseas, in the series MotoGP... I really wanna get there and be a champion," Ora said.