Clues to where Bambino champion Bixente Rio-Wyles comes from
People who know a bit about Spain have two clues to help
them guess where Bixente comes from.
Bixente (pronounced Bishentay) points to a connection to the Basque region in the north of Spain, his father’s birthplace.
The second clue is in his surname. Bixente’s father is Javier Rio. And his mother is Naomi Wyles.
Traditionally in Spain the parents’ surnames are joined together - hence Rio-Wyles.
Bixente’s beginnings were far from the Basque country. His quiet arrival in February 2014 went largely unnoticed by the citizens of Mexico City where his parents were engaged in humanitarian aid.
Short spells in northern Iraq, Jordan, Italy and Belgium gave him a taste for different lands and experience of different peoples and cultures. He was well prepared for the beginning of his new life in Nairobi in 202.
Bixente’s apprenticeship as a driver began in Italy when he was three years old, driving a small tractor under the careful eye of his English grandfather, Adda.
He could not reach the pedals but he could steer and was great at avoiding obstacles and deciding to make sudden, but smooth, changes of direction.
Bixente is not the first racing driver to receive early training on a tractor – three times world champion Jackie Stewart learned his early techniques spluttering around his father’s farm in Ayrshire, Scotland.
A couple of years later the grandfather-grandson partnership moved up a level in Cyprus in a two-seater kart driven at a blistering pace around a track for tourists.
Bixente is a full time student at Braeburn School in Nairobi.
His school reports highlight his intelligence and qualities as a quick learner.
"I enjoy gymnastics and horse riding which serve to sharpen my excellent physical coordination and sense of balance – both essential for go-karting success,"
A rapid and successful debut: aided by the dedicated encouragement of his parents, Bixente, a complete novice in his first season, won Kenya’s 50 cc 2022 Bambino Class (drivers up to the age of 8) championship.
In the same months Bixente was also regularly playing rugby and football, riding horses and indulging his technical skills in taking stuff apart and putting it back together again.
Bixente’s early success is fuelled both by natural ability and a fierce competitiveness.
He is not one to take his foot off the accelerator if a race is not going his way.
He is doggedly determined to be first in every race he runs.
And his role model is Sergio Perez, the Formula 1 driver for Red Bull Racing, because, he says, “he can be last on the grid and first past the flag.
”Bixente has rarely been last on the grid but he was on two occasions and won both races. But his ability to learn unfamiliar circuits very quickly has regularly planted him on pole position.
He is also tough enough to put mechanical failures behind him after having had more than his fair share in his championship year.
Bixente: "I truly hav a long road ahead of me and that goes without saying- there will be formidable competition along the way. Naturally, I want to break into Formula One."
"All of today’s top racers from Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen were teenage novices and every year the potential world champions are younger and younger."
Bixente Rio-Wyles is not the only promising young budding talent racing in Kenya.
Bixente expounds in finality: "If me or any of my local rivals can climb the ladder to international success, go-karting in Kenya will be deservedly be recognised as a nursery for champions."
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