Despite the general dislike and fear for motorsport in Nigeria, one man stood out and forged ahead like a lone ranger.
For years Nigerians have been obsessed with motorsport, with a growing community of millions of fans from around the country. The most dedicated fans fly out to places like Abu Dhabi to watch the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton battle out on track, with many more watching tentatively from back home.
There is also a thriving community of enthusiasts who organise and take part in unofficial racing events around Nigeria which is most evident in places like Lagos and Abuja.
Until very recently, there hasn’t been any Nigerian participation in professional motorsport. There are many talented young Nigerians who have achieved impressive results in Go Karting but are left unable to progress due to a lack of infrastructure and funding for motorsport in Nigeria.
However there is an exciting young emerging talent currently racing in the United Kingdom – Ovie Iroro. He started his motorsport journey here in Lagos, where he won the first ever Go Karting championship he entered in at the age of 16. He later moved to the United Kingdom where he studied full time along with pursuing his racing career. He also gained further Go Karting experience by competing in the Rye House club championship and winning the award for the top rookie.
In 2012 he signed up with a Formula Renault team, where he took part in a successful training program over a few months as his first taste into F1 style single seater racing.
In 2014, history was made when he signed up to be the first Nigerian to ever compete in the British Formula Ford Championship, which is the same place the likes of Jenson Button and the great Ayrton Senna started their car racing careers. He achieved impressive results in his debut season, including top 10 class finishes and is currently undergoing a training program for a full on assault for the championship next season.
Later on in 2014, he was invited to represent Nigeria in the FIA Young Driver Excellence Programme, competing against drivers from all over Africa.
Since then, Ovie has been training regularly while completing his Mechanical Engineering degree at University College, London.He has set his sights on a championship challenge next season which he is currently training for.
Over the next few weeks, Ovie will be giving us a valuable insight into the life of a racing driver, including his fitness and training regime. This would include quality advice for young drivers and engineers that would like career in motorsport. We would also be discussing the future plans for motorsport in Nigeria and revealing ongoing plans to organise International motorsport events in Nigeria.