KJs Manager Valeria Wilkes from WMS Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton admitted his dream as a child of one day making it into Formula 1 was ‘madness’. In a 2020 interview with Italian magazine Style, Hamilton said he was, however, lucky because his father pushed him not to give up.

These sentiments bring a smile to the face of Adrian Scholtz, CEO of Motorsport South Africa, because they currently have a rookie motorcycle rider under their wing with a very similar story – and hunger to succeed.

Scholtz says Kgopotso Mononyane ‘the second’ (affectionately known as KJ) is a 15-year-old from  Mondeor – Johannesburg who eats, sleeps and breathes motorcycle racing.

His father is tragically no longer alive to spur him on and witness the incredible progress KJ is making in the sport, but his mother, Kgomotso, is steadfast at her son’s side to help him fulfil his dreams.

KJ’s dad, Kgopotso Mononyane, who was an anaesthetist, was killed in a helicopter crash in Kwazulu-Natal along with five of his Netcare 911 colleagues on January 21, 2021, en route to transport a critically-ill Covid-19 patient to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.

“KJ wanted to do motorcycle sport from the time he was five years old but his parents thought it was too dangerous. This didn’t stop KJ from expressing an interest in riding and having a dream to make a name for himself on the motorcycle racing circuit. Following his dad’s death, KJ has the full support of his mom in realising this dream,” Scholtz said.

“Motorsport SA couldn’t be prouder of what he has already achieved. This year, MSA secured funding assistance for KJ from the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, which is the global/sanctioning body of motorcycle racing. While this amount represented only a very small portion of the racing budget needed, it was greatly appreciated.” Scholtz says encouraging young riders with talent is a major drive for MSA. “We would love to see more of our young talent starting to compete internationally as well,” he says.

KJ, a Grade Nine learner at Waterstone College, recalls his first “break” came in 2017 (he was 10 years old) when Neil Harran from the South African Motorcycle Racing Academy visited his school’s open day.

“I was so excited to try out the demo stationary practice bike he had at the open day and everyone was very impressed with my test ride. Neil then recommended to my parents that I enrol into his academy. I was ecstatic as I knew this could be the start of great things to come,” KJ said.

And it was. KJ started participating competitively in the short circuit road racing series in 2017 (he was 10 years old) in the NSF100cc Honda Cup and won a championship in 2019.

In 2020, KJ claimed another title in the Clubman’s championship and finished second in the 150 cup – a category he went on to win the next year. He started competing in Italy in June 2021, in the middle of the racing season.  To date, he has won multiple circuit motorcycle racing championships.

Scholtz said KJ believes he was ‘born to be a champion’ and is honouring his father’s memory with his commitment to motorcycle racing.

“There is nothing more satisfying and exciting than seeing a young rider cling to their dream, pursue it and, ultimately, live it. It is what champions are made of; resilience and passion to succeed. We are so proud of KJ and proud to be at his side as he goes from strength to strength.”

His mom says dedication and commitment are key to success in the sport but, above all, riders must be professional, self-disciplined and subscribe to the ‘rules of the game’.

“KJ is constantly training in South Africa and competing in short-circuit series races.  In addition, he has followed self-tailored training offered by WMS Motorsport in Italy and is also managed by a Swiss sports management company that has worked with Paddock GP and MM Team (KJ’s racing team) as technical engineers,” Kgomotso says.

“His dad believed so much in his potential – so much so that he wanted to see KJ race overseas and signed a contract and submitted it to the team in Italy a day before he died. Signing this contract was the greatest achievement for him and he told me to always believe in our son.

“KJ will not disappoint his father. He views this sport as a career and said he’ll continue in it – even if he doesn’t get paid.”

KJ has the final word on his hopes and dreams.

“I want to work harder to further my motor racing career, with an ultimate goal to reach a level of Redbull MotoGP Rookies Cup in Europe.

“I would love to watch Fabio Quartararo in action one day and spend a day with him learning a few tricks. I am also inspired by our very own MotoGP icons, Brad and Darryn Binder,” he said.


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