Ride day, family day


Lenard “Champi” Villacanas poses with his wife and daughter after competing in a race in Negros Occidental in the Philippines in 2014. (Contributed Photo)

Lenard “Champi” Villacanas in action during one of Marianas Racing Association’s weekend races this month in Marpi. (Contributed Photo)

As the weekend nears, Marianas Racing Association member Lenard “Champi” Villacanas can’t help but feel excited in anticipation of the races at Kan Pacific.

Villacanas joined the growing number of motocross enthusiasts doing regular rides at MRA’s temporary raceway in Marpi, rekindling his love for the sport.

“As Sunday gets closer, the excitement over riding my bike builds up,” the Chalan Kanoa resident said. “Just the sound of the bike when you start it gives you the kind of feeling you can’t explain.

Villacanas is happy that he is able to get involved again in the sport that he used to do when we was still in the Philippines. The 39-year-old, who moved to Saipan in 2015, began racing in his hometown (Negros Occidental in the Western Visayas region) when he was 17 years old and suited up for Southern Negros Motorsports Safety Association, a group that organizes motocross racing around the Philippines.

Lenard “Champi” Villacanas poses with his wife and daughter after competing in a race in Negros Occidental in the Philippines in 2014. (Contributed Photo)

“When I came here in 2015, motocross is gone. Then I heard from a friend that Cuki [Alvarez] and other former riders are trying to bring motocross back on island and I got excited. I tried to purchase a bike so I can join the race,” said Villacanas, who is using a Yamaha yz250f 2018 for now while he waits for the arrival of his Kawasaki 250 2021.

He also uses the race number 8, the same one he had when he was still competing in the Philippines.

“You can say it’s my lucky number. I was born on May 8 and also got married on the same date,” Villacanas said.

As he joins MRA’s practice races every Sunday, Villacanas sees a lot of great riders on island and appreciates how the group’s officials are working so hard to get a permanent raceway so they can hold competitions and provide top-level tournaments for spectators. He also loves how every weekend’s event is turned into a family gathering.

In this 2014 file photo, Lenard “Champi” Villacanas leads a race held in his hometown.
(Contributed Photo)

“Motocross is a much better choice than other outdoor sports. It also brings extra ordinary happiness because it’s some kind of a bonding activity for families,” Villacanas, who brings his two children and wife to watch the races.

Other MRA riders also bring their family members in Marpi to watch the afternoon races, while some children get to try the make-shift/small course that the group devised to entice beginners to the sport.

Meanwhile, MRA races start at 3pm for the kids division, while the veteran class (over 45 age group) riders take the course at 3:30pm. Next up ay 4pm is the beginners novice division, while riders in the intermediate experts close the weekend event with their race at 4:30pm.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.
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