Rich breathes fire over Howden departure
SEASONED South African Superbike trainer Vic Rich was on Wednesday breathing fire after promising Zimbabwean female rider Jessica Howden left his Monroe Racing Team to join rivals Otto Racing Team for the 2019 season.
Howden’s father, Ian, on Wednesday said Otto Racing Team offered his daughter a good deal which was too good to turn down and she had no choice but to ditch Rich’s Monroe Racing Team.
The offer came after Jessica Howden had just spent five months racing under Monroe Racing Team after she was introduced to the tough world of Superbike riding by her father at the age of 15 in early July this year.
Jessica Howden’s new teammate Zante Otto rode for the Monroe Racing Team this year before she also decided to cross the floor and join the Otto Racing Team.
But it is Jessica Howden’s decision to ditch Monroe Racing Team for Otto Racing Team that left Rich seething with anger as he expressed his disappointment over this latest development.
A visibly disappointed and angry Rich said: “Yes they (Jessica Howden and Zante Otto) have been poached by a team here (in South Africa).
“We are the biggest team in Africa. Otto is a family thing. They were caught cheating last year and had their points taken away, so they don’t have a good name. They obviously went to Ian Howden (Jessica’s father) and offered the world for lots of money. Jessica won’t go anywhere with them. We have our own four ladies and two men contracted to us. It’s their decision so we don’t actually care because we are the best and people all over Africa want to be part of Monroe. So in a nutshell it’s no loss . . . We move forward with better (riders).”
However, when contacted by The Herald, Jessica Howden’s father, Ian, said Otto Racing Team offered his daughter a good deal which was too good to turn down.
“Yes, Jessica has been made an offer from the Otto Racing Team and we are pleased to say that she has accepted (it) and will be part of the team from January 2019.
She will partner Zante and Ricardo Otto who are regional champions in the 600 and 300 series in South Africa.
“She will ride in South Africa in both these categories and continue with the 250cc Zimbabwean Championship,” Ian Howden said.
Rich took Jessica Howden under his wing at Monroe Racing Team soon after she was introduced to Superbike riding by her father, Ian, at the age of 15 in early July this year.
Jessica Howden then featured in a number of main circuit racing events here in Zimbabwe and in South Africa where she did extremely well while riding against some seasoned Superbike riders in both countries.
Only last month, Jessica Howden competed in the biggest event in South Africa this year - the Midas PE200 & Klinicare PE100 Endurance Race Championships at the Aldo Scribante Circuit in Port Elizabeth — where she made her presence felt by managing to last the distance in the two races that she competed in.
In Port Elizabeth, Jessica Howden first entered the PSP Class which attracted the most entries with a full field of 37 riders.
Riding one of three 300cc machines with other bigger machines, Jessica Howden qualified in a credible 14th place.
Both heats saw enormous battles with Jessica Howden finishing 15th overall.
The main race of the day was the PE100, a 20-lap sprint and Jessica Howden had a bad start, but she managed to carve her way to 10th position.
Last Saturday, Jessica Howden was back home in Zimbabwe competing in the biggest main circuit racing event of the year - the Toyota Zimbabwe/hp lubes Castrol 3-hour Endurance Race meeting at Bulawayo Motorsport Park in Bulawayo - and she was one of the 11 riders who took part in the 1-hour endurance competition in which she rode against men.
COURTING CONTROVERSY . . . Young Zimbabwean female Superbike rider Jessica Howden’s move to Otto Racing Team has angered her former South African team, Monroe Racing Team