We catch up with B9, 2nd runner in the 1000cc category and one of the Team principals of BKG racing.
See interview after the cut
NM: Can you introduce yourself to the folks that are not familiar with you.
B9: My name is Babs “B9” Ladipo. I’m one of the team principals of BKG Racing. I ride the Honda in the 1000cc category of the BT race and I’m the back up driver for the Road X series
NM: This is the first purpose built race track in Nigeria, perhaps West Africa even, do you think the Nigerian people and to a larger extent, the west African people are ready to embrace Motorsports.
B9: I think the track is long overdue! With a place to harness the passion of Nigerians in Motorsports, we will see an explosion in talent and development. What we’ve seen since November 2017 alone is mind blowing
NM: When did you decide you want to race bikes and so far, has there been any regret.
B9: I’ve always wanted to race bikes and cars but in a controlled environment. I’m happy to be able to do so now. This is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
NM: It was the debut for your team, Bikers Wearhouse and yourself last year, what was that like?
B9: The debut of Bikers Wearhouse Racing was tough. We had a bike and car on the track and we wanted to do it with the usual class and quality Bikers Wearhouse is known for. It was awesome to qualify 3rd and even more gratifying to finish 3rd after a very bad start that had our bike in last position by turn 1. We didn’t have such good luck with the car though. We qualified 3rd but had a mechanical issue that had us retire in the 1st lap.
NM: It seems there has been a shake up on the team, it is now known as BKG racing? What precipitated the change?
B9: We identified that we didn’t have all the resources to deliver the world class Racing team we wanted. A team to watch, a team to aspire to be like, a team that was a show stopper. So we got 2 more team principals on board and BKG Racing was born. And as evidenced by our performance in the first 2 races in 2018, it was a good decision.
NM: How many riders is the team putting up this year? Will they be riding across both categories, 600cc and 1000cc.
B9: BKG plans to field 2 riders in the 1000cc class, 1 rider in the 600cc class of the BT Championship and 2 cars in the Road X series. We plan to use different racers in each category so as to manage fatigue.
NM: Is there a team mechanic or are racers their own mechanics? Who oversees the general technical direction of the team.
B9: One of our team principal, Seun “Graphix” Olawore is our Chief Technical Officer. He manages the technical aspect of our vehicles and he is a genius and veteran in automobile engineering. Nigerian Motorsport need to watch out with what BKG Racing is going to deliver. His attention to detail and technical ‘innovativeness’ is second to none.
NM: There has been a change with the qualifying format, are you happier with the current format or you prefer the older format?
B9: As long as we use a consistent format through out the year, I’m happy. We need to remember that this is the 1st year of organized Motorsport in Nigeria in this generation. We are learning as we go along. I think we are learning from the global scene and adapting to our current reality and we will continue in this vein till F1 starts to copy us. 😜
NM: We had the first set of qualifiers in February, were you happy with the time you set? Would you say you have improved on from last year
B9: My qualifying time placed me in 5th position. I’m certain I can do better. Luckily there is an opportunity in August. I am however happy my team mate blitzed the track in his 1st outing.
NM: Will you be attending the remaining qualifiers or you are confident with the time you have for a decent spot on the grid come November.
B9: Yes, we will be attending the remaining qualifiers. I need a spot closer to the front before November. I’m also certain that all the other riders have the same thought so those times posted in February are going to come tumbling down. The race is limited to the fastest 10 qualifying times so I’m certain we will all be back to guarantee we can race in November.
NM: How do you prepare physically for race weekends?
B9: I try to keep fit generally. I run 5km 3 mornings a week. I think I am more of a cerebral rider so I visualize the result I want and think of how to achieve it. The other thing of course is to have the bike ready to compete.
NM: What are the expectations of team this year following your performance last year.
B9: To win!! Lol! We have a very competitive package for November. You might see a BKG racing 1 – 2 race result. I’m sure the rest of the field are not going to let us have that without a fight so there promises to be some really interesting racing going on. The competitive spirit is off the hook! Watch out for BKG Racing!! We are not only going to win, but we will do it with such style, we will take your breath away…..
NM: Would you say you are better familiar with the track, does it suit your riding style?
B9: I get more and more familiar with the track every time I get on it. It’s a short, hot, non forgiving track. You need to keep your head in the game all though each and every lap. There are some interesting corners and the straights are fast enough to get some good top speed. The tar is coming together quite nicely. We probably need some for kerbing but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Looking forward to the November race.
NM: What can the fans expect from you and the team this year?
B9: Winning with efizzy!! Lol!! We expect to deliver a stellar performance. Highly entertaining and spell binding… Within BKG Racing, we have Honda vs BMW. The top runners also have BMWs, We have Europeans vs Asians. So there are a lot of scenarios to play. The fun is just starting..
NM: Is there a fan club? Are there plans for merchandising?
B9: The BKG fan club is just starting. Our merchandise are available HERE or at the track. We will also have some activities to grow our fan base before November.
NM: What message do you have to young and potential racers in Nigeria.
B9: You need to get to the track. You are not going to believe how your life will change