We catch up with Jack Affara, the most successful racer in the NSBK. The team principal at Throttle Heads Racing.
See interview after the cut
NM: Can you introduce yourself to the folks that are not familiar with you.
AirBenda: “Hello everyone my name is Jack Affara aka Airbenda… I’m palestinian in my late 30’s a civil engineer highways.”
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?
AirBenda: “Motorsport is already a loved sport by many Nigerians and Africans in general… the only problem is that the sports itself is to an extent an expensive one if not we would have been seeing so many talented racers in the world from Nigeria… it is high time motorsports in Nigeria be recognized and sponsored for it to grow more.”
NM: You have contributed immensely to the growth of motorsports in Nigeria, from the bike livery, to Umbrella girls, crew tops and what not, what drives you to continually make the race experience as rich as possible for yourself and legions of fans?
AirBenda: “one word ‘PASSION’ the love of the sport and the rush of adrenaline in our veins.”
NM: When did you decide you want to race bikes. How has the journey been so far?
AirBenda: “Thanks To Moto X we finally are fulfilling our dreams of racing proffessionaly on a track… it has been a long time dream and so far so good it’s been awesome.”
NM: There has been a change with the qualifying format – lap times are now two flying laps as opposed to one flying lap – are you happier with the current format or you prefer the older format?
AirBenda: “Any format works for me as long as I’m riding my bike around the track.”
NM: You are the most successful racer in the history of the Nigerian BT with three (3) championship titles, how have you been able to stay motivated to keep performing at such a high level?
AirBenda: “Love of the sport and the need to remain on top is what pushes every racer to do more. The more we progress in the sports the more hidden talents suffice and make it more challenging.”
NM: What a race last year. You and Argo pushed each other till the end.. There was even a brief moment when the crowd thought Argo had just peeped you to victory on the final lap. Can you share what that was like, the emotions from what you thought was a losing position to the realization that you had won?
AirBenda: “Oh that!! Lol! Yea it was an mixed feelings for me kinda like bitter sweet… bitter cause he got me at the “last” lap and sweet that the lap he overtook me on was the cool off lap and we both got to know after we pitted… apparently there was a little mix up at the start finish line…. I was so happy to take first position… me and Argo are in the same great club A41MC and the good thing about me and him is we bring the best out of one another and were still brothers… Argo is a great rider…”
NM: You looked tired after the race, in fact it looked like you were loosing pace towards the final laps, how are you hoping to remedy that this year?
AirBenda: “I wasn’t tierd I was angry with Suuzie “my bike” she was misfiring at 10,000rpms so I was unable to break away from Argo so it was a bit tough more like a fight.”
NM: Q1 was not straight forward for you this year, can you talk us through what was going on?
AirBenda: “So last year Suzie was misfiring the parts we ordered for her came in late and we fixed and couldn’t do the propped testing to be sure she was ready to roll… So getting on to the track she started misbehaving again which triggered my anger and one thing a racer shouldn’t do is racer when your mind is not clear… I dropped her and took my mates bike and that dint end well… riding a bike I’m not familiar with on a track that’s having some surface issues… I crashed funny enough on my cool off lap .. I was going back in total rage in me and what happened just happened.”
NM: Will you be attending Q2 and Q3 or you are confident your time in Q1 is enough to to keep P4 on the grid on race day?
AirBenda: “My time is good to go and with my current situation I’m not sure I will be racing bikes this year unless I’m fully ok to go but will surely race in road x.”
NM: You are to race with AirBenda racing in the 1000cc category this year but you are the team Principal over at Throttle Heads racing. Why are you not racing in the 1000cc category for Throttle Heads instead?
AirBenda: “Airbenda is my Alias Throttle Heads is our new racing team that we go under… So I am racing for throttle heads in all sense.”
NM: What are the expectations of AirBenda racing this season?
AirBenda: “The season might be slow in terms of bikes but you can be sure we will be on podium for the road X.”
NM: A number of riders have mentioned they were riding within themselves as they were uncomfortable with the track surface as it was dusty and littered with gravel. Was this a concern for you?
AirBenda: “It was and still is we are hoping that the organizers will do something to remedy that problem… a race surface is supposed to be totally free of any type of debris.”
NM: What is the target this year from a racing perspective?
AirBenda: “To keep bringing those cups.”
NM: What can the fans expect from you an the team this year?
AirBenda: “Expect the best always we will always put in our best to keep our supporters happy.”
NM: Lastly, as one of the most recognizable guys on the grid, what message do you have to young and potential racers in Nigeria.
AirBenda: “Follow your dreams… fear not for we only live once and we should make it count.”
This interview was before the second qualifier in which he finished P3. A spot higher than he did in Q1. To think he had a tip off and was very unlikely to partake in Q2.