Morgado, Mason star in season opener

The opening round of the 2020 South African Rotax Max Challenge national karting championship proved some way beyond expectations at iDube near Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

Not only did the well-run event attract an entry close to that of last year’s race run in normal circumstances, in spite of it running without spectators to strict lockdown rules, but some cracking racing on the day also proved hugely entertaining.

At 41 years old, Durban hero Cristiano Morgado is very much the Valentino Rossi of South African karting and the multiple Rotax Max World Champion was at it again as he beat among SA’s finest young racers to top class DD2 gearbox kart honours on Sunday. Morgado shared two wins apiece with multiple SA DD2 champion Bradley Liebenberg, but the older driver’s second and third places in the other two heats versus two fourth places for the young gun, secured the top class win for the seasoned home hero on the day.

Another local lad, Robert Whiting impressed with a trio of thirds and a second to take a close third for the day behind Liebenberg, while Jamie Smith’s second heat third place saw him beat Jason Coetzee to third overall on a tie break, with Sebastian Boyd next up from Nicolas Spanoynnis, Niko Zafiris and Divan Braak.

Pretoria driver Nick Verheul made no mistakes as he trotted to a maximum score with four race wins over-30 DD2 Masters over SA champion Jonathan Pieterse. Shane Foley ended up third overall ahead of a spat for fourth between Eric Marzoppi and Ryan Wilde, resolved in Marzoppi’s favour, while Cody Sherratt rounded out the top six.

Morgado magic.

Open class chain-drive Senior Max was another star attraction of the day, with three different drivers winning the four heats, but it was another local lad, Shrien Naidoo who emerged victorious on Sunday evening, with his second and fourth race wins. That was enough to keep race 3 winner Charl Visser, Brett Waldon, Jason Coetzee, heat 1 winner Tate Bishop and local karting lass Riley Horner at bay, while another local lad Dane van Heerde also impressed racing an aged chassis he shared with his mum, who also raced it in the Masters class.

Talking Max Masters, Sean Foley beat Richard van Heerde two races to one to take overall honours in the chain-driven class for older and bigger-boned drivers with Richard Horner scraping in for third ahead of Dane’s mum Beverley van Heerde, Dean and Allan-Jon Rice.

In the kid karting classes, the unbelievable baby Bambinos made for perhaps the races of the day, with wildly different results covered by the tightest of margins through the day. Mattao Mason however made best of the chaos as he took a couple of wins to take the winner’s trophy from the consistent Aiden Beaumont and Harry Rowe, whose podium positions in their races put them onto the overall podium steps.

They ended up ahead of Manelisi Nkomo, Cristian Verheul and Caleb Moss, while Rafael da Silva and Matthew Shuttleworth both won heats on the day, but issues in their other heats saw them well down overall in a splendid day of kindergarten level racing that also proves SA motorsport has a really bright future.

Stepping up a class to under-11 Micro Max, Cape Town lightie Reese Koorzen commenced his SA title defence in fine style, with a trio of race wins to comfortably take the day, but the race behind him was sublime. Keagan Beaumont overcame Caleb Odendaal, Reagile Malula, Hriday Pooren, race 2 winner Mo Moerat, Uzair Khan and Travis Mingay, with just eleven points separating the eight of them.

Junior Max.

Under-13 Mini Max proved to be a Ghazi Motlekar benefit as the Dainfern youngster motored to four wins on the trot for a perfect start to his national campaign, although he did have to work a little for that. Motlekar had to fight off Klayden-Cole Ensor-Smith, who took a trio of seconds and a third to emerge as runner up over race 2 second-placed lad Luviwe Sambudla, with Joaquin de Oliveira fourth from Reza Levy and Erich Heystek.

Moving up to high school Junior Max, class rookies Muhammad Wally and Nikolas Roos could only be separated by Wally having taken a pair of seconds versus Roos coming home a second and a third in their other races, after the two shared two wins apiece. Second race second lad Dhivyen Naidoo ended third for the day ahead of Ethan Stier, Tyler Robinson and Juandre Nel.

The various Rotax Max SA champions, as well as the class winners in the November 15 Rotax African Open at the stunning new Formula K circuit, will qualify for the so-called Olympics of Karting Rotax Max Grand Finals at Portimao, Portugal from January 24 to 29, 2021.

Before that, the second and third rounds of the 2020 Rotax Max Challenge South African Karting Championships take place back-to-back, with a meeting apiece on both versions of the freshly renovated Zwartkops International Kart Raceways’ two new track formats on September 19 and 20, before a four-heat Final at Killarney in Cape Town on October 17.

Source: Motorsportmedia / Issued on behalf of Rotax Max Challenge

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