A record entry of more than 100 karts and an electric atmosphere at the Zwartkops International Kart Track made for some of the best kart racing seen in SA in a long while.
Saturday’s Rotax Max National Finals were backed up by Sunday’s Rotax African Open as visitors from Namibia, Mozambique and Angola added international flavour to the continent’s biggest karting event. The weekend also set the South African team to fly the flag at the 2021 “Olympics of Karting”, the Rotax Max Grand Finals at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit, on December 11-18.
Joseph Oelz, Nicholas Verheul, Tate Bishop, Troy Snyman, Wian Boshoff, Reagile “Spice” Mailula and Maddox Mason were crowned South African champions on Saturday. Bradley Liebenberg, Eugene Brittz, Kian Grottis, Muhammad Wally, Joaquin de Oliveira, Keagan Martin and Maddox Mason won Sunday’s Rotax African Open races. That will see Oelz, runner-up Sebastian Boyd and Liebenberg racing for SA in DD2, Verheul in DD2 Masters, and Bishop and Grottis in Senior Max.
The South African Junior Rotax Max Grand Finals team will comprise of Junior Max duo Snyman and Wally, Boshoff and De Oliveira in Mini and Mailula in Micro Max. Meanwhile, Africa Open DD2 Masters winners Eugene Britz and Kegan Martin in Micro Max as well as Bambino winners Shuttleworth and Martin earned a ticket to support the team at the Bahrain Grand Finals.
In Saturday’s National action, Cape BirelART driver Oelz wrapped up a comfortable premier Gearbox Class DD2 title over similarly mounted compatriot Boyd and Gauteng lad Brandon Smith on a Ricciardo kart in dramatic style. Oelz conceded the first race win to Boyd on a nose cone penalty, before both were excluded on technicalities. So Smith won from wildcards, former multiple DD2 champion Liebenberg and SA Formula W Series star Tasmin Pepper.
Liebenberg then led most of the second race, only to falter on the last lap and to hand Smith another win from Pepper, Bloem wildcard Justin Allison, Liebenberg and Oelz. Oelz then went on to dominate the third and fourth races from Boyd both times, as Smith and Liebenberg shared out the seconds. So Smith took the day from Liebenberg, Pepper, Whiting and Allison.
Local CRG hero Nicholas Verheul made no mistakes as he steamed to four over-32 DD2 Masters wins out of four to narrowly steal that title from KZN driver Jonathan Pieterse and Eugene Brittz. Pieterse was more consistent on the day in his Tony Kart as he edged Intrepid man Brittz, who scored three seconds, and retired once. Shane Foley and Cape lad Andrew Thomas’ CRG were next up. Verheul took the Masters title by four points from Pieterse, with Brittz in third.
Another Cape lad, Tate Bishop, steered his Kosmic to victory and the title in Senior Max. Bishop had easy wins in the opening and third races, but had to fight off Kian Grottis and Riley Horner in race 2. Horner then beat Bishop and Charl Visser in the final. Bishop took the day from Grottis and KZN’s Shrien Naidoo as Horner faded. Bishop ultimately took an easy third national title from a most impressive Grottis, who only started karting last year, and Horner.
KZN Esprit Kart star Troy Snyman won two of the day’s races en route to narrowly clinch a dramatic under-15 high school Junior Max title. Gauteng lad Jayden Goosen won the day, despite not winning a race. Jozi wildcard KC Ensor-Smith took the hard-fought opener from Goosen and Snyman, who beat Goosen to heat 2. But only after first-home Muhammad Wally was docked five seconds on a nose cone penalty and Ensor-Smith took a 10-second penalty for incompatible driving.
Wally made no mistakes to take the third heat from Goosen after Snyman took his turn at a 10-second incompatible driving penalty and Wally then came home first in the final. But a five-second nose cone penalty saw him drop to fourth behind Ensor-Smith, Snyman and Goosen. This was enough to see Snyman sneak through to take the title by all of two points from Wally, with Goosen a close third.
Gauteng CRG driver Wian Boshoff dominated Saturday’s under-13 Mini Max races to clinch the title with nine wins out of the ten races that count to the title. It could have been ten out of ten, had Wian not incurred a startline penalty in race 2 to hand that win to compatriot Kent Swartz’s Parolin. Third in the title chase, Kent was second on the day from second in the championship, Cape kid Joaquin de Oliveira’s Parolin, followed by Jordon Wadeley, Erich Heystek and Travis Mingay.
Gauteng Tony Kart lad Rafael da Silva won four hard races but just missed out on the under-11 Micro Max crown. Praga-mounted compatriot Spice Mailula did just enough to hold on to the title despite a tough day at the office. Spice and Rafael both won six races through the season. Cape kid Keagan Beaumont’s Parolin was second on the day en route to the title third as Kegan Martin, Mattao Mason, Harry Rowe and Durelle Goodman rounded off the Zwartkops Micro top six.
Gauteng duo Maddox Mason and Matthew Shuttleworth tied for the Bambino win as each won two and ended second in the other two baby Bambino races. So Maddox held on to take the title by all of four points. He dominated the second and fourth races as Matthew overcame him and Jack Moore to take the last lap in race 2 and win. Jack was third on the day from Santiago Frade, Brodi Dowling and Logan Billau, en route to third in the title.
With the South African championships provisionally settled but subject to Womsa ratification, attention turned to Sunday’s winner-takes-all African Open races, where Liebenberg claimed that DD2 ticket, Eugene Brittz picked up the Masters win and relative novice Kian Grottis stunned a star-studded field to the Senior Max win. Muhammad Wally took the Junior open, Joaquin de Oliveira the Mini Max and Keagan Martin upset in Micro Max, while Maddox Mason took the Bambino win.
“Vanessa Wood and the RKC team put on a great event, and a professional contingent of officials ensured fair play and maintained a firm but friendly atmosphere over another epic Rotax Max weekend,” series organiser Jennifer Verheul concluded. “Despite the usual allegations, several in-depth technical checks revealed a clean bill of health to ensure that fairness is always the name of the Rotax Max game!”
Rotax Max regionals continue at Killarney in the Cape and at iDube in KZN this coming weekend to help those who have qualified to focus on their preparations for the Olympics of Karting Grand Finals in Bahrain on December 11-18.