Gugu Zulu loved daredevil sports until his last breath

GUGU ZULU BORN: May 13 1978 DIED: July 18 2016 BURIAL: Next Thursday

- Mbulelo Sompetha Xolo

A REQUIEM mass and a memorial service for rally racing driver Gugu Zulu will be held next week for his friends and family ahead of his funeral.

The mass will be held at St Mark’s Church in Northridin­g, north of Johannesbu­rg, on Wednesday, while his memorial service will be held on Tuesday at Kyalami racetrack in Midrand.

Zulu died on Monday while attempting to summit Mount Kilimanjar­o in Tanzania as part of the Trek4Mande­la initiative. He was part of the 40-odd group that was trying to raise funds for sanitary towels for poor girls in the country.

He experience­d breathing problems and the medical team supporting the trek had to put him on a drip and descended the mountain with him. He leaves behind his wife Letshego, who was also part of the group, and their one-year -old daughter.

At the time of his death, he was living in Fourways. Zulu was born in Meadowland­s, Soweto, on May 13 1978, and began his motorsport career in 1999 after graduating from the Isondo Racing Academy.

The following year he dominated the Vodacom Isondo Sports 2000 national series, taking 13 wins and two second places in 16 races. That was enough to earn him a spot in the inaugural Sasol Steam Team in 2001 alongside veteran Sarel van der Merwe (Supervan), who soon became his mentor.

Meanwhile, Sasol marketing sponsorshi­p manager Dean Somerset said he had lost a friend: “I am responsibl­e for sponsorshi­p at Sasol and as a result we had a relationsh­ip simply because of the teams he rallied in as he was a VW driver. My friendship with Gugu started in 2007, and because motorsport is very niche, we built a relationsh­ip over the years.”

In his first year with the team Zulu won the Guinness Achievemen­t Award as well as both the WesBank and Goodyear Star of Tomorrow awards, and by the following year he was setting lap times as fast as Supervan.

In 2003 he moved to rallying, but never restricted himself to just one discipline; he competed internatio­nally in the 2004 Skip Barber Dodge Racing Series.

Gugu also performed some of the car stunts for the 2005 movie

Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage. He also became an advanced driving instructor as well as a presenter on SABC show Car Torque and later on DStv’s Ignition. He even featured as a contestant on the 2008 season of Strictly Come Dancing.

His rallying career went from strength to strength, with SA National Rally Class titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

According to family spokesman and uncle Tseliso Motloheloa, Zulu showed signs of his chosen career while still a teenager. “He had a passion for riding bicycles and BMXs from an early age. He then joined go kart racing and became a champion. He later joined motor racing, track racing and then rally,” he said.

 ?? PHOTO: RYAN WILKISKY/BACKPAGEPI­X ?? GREAT LOSS: Gugu Zulu had a passion for riding bicycles from an early age
PHOTO: RYAN WILKISKY/BACKPAGEPI­X GREAT LOSS: Gugu Zulu had a passion for riding bicycles from an early age

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