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SA race champions face off in kart opener

The 2017 South African National Karting Championship kicks off at Vereeniging’s Laserfische Raceway on the unlikely date of Monday 20 March, with the prospect of South Africa’s best drivers facing off as the highlight of an epic day’s racing.

The fastest DD2 gearbox class is split into two classes — the under-30 ‘youngsters’ and the Masters, among whom you will find all the reigning SA four wheel champions.  Michael Stephen is the reigning SA GTC champion in his factory Audi and he will race a CRG against double-reigning SA rally and cross country champion, Toyota works driver Leeroy Poulter (Imperial Toyota CRG).

Both of them will be keen to show triple DD2 karting champion and Polo Cup runner-up Bradley Liebenberg (Birel) the way on Monday, but DD2’s talent pool runs deep enough to ensure that none of that trio will have it their own way. Expect resistance from a powerful Cape contingent coming up in search of DD2 glory that includes Julian van der Watt (Zanardi), Umpie Swart (EMR CRG), Jonathan Thomas (Partners CRG), Tristan de Nobrega (RDSA CRG) and rookie Andrew Rackstraw (CRG) coming up in search of DD2 glory.

Durbanites Benjamin Habig (Kartking SA Tony Kart), Michael Buchholz (Intrepid) and Robert Whiting (CRG) will fly the KZN flag and one cannot ignore Bloemfontein’s Justin Allison either. Other top DD2 runners include karting lass Ivana Cetinich (Alpha Universal CRG), Janco Venter (Kosmic), Brandon Smith (Ricciardo Kart), Bryn High (S&K CRG) and Bevan Williams, while the Masters class action will see Richard Fuller (Race Art Birel), CRG duo Nicholas Verheul and Marouan Selmi, Pascal Acquaah (FA Kart) and Jonathan Pieterse keen to defeat those national champions racing amongst them.

The open age group Senior Max looks set to be another key battleground with several youngsters including Gauteng lads, reigning SA Junior champion Cameron O’Connor (Repro Supplies FA Kart) and Oliver Gunner (d’Amico Attorney Tony Kart), Cape champion Jason Coetzee (RKT Kosmic) and KZN racer Daniel Duminy (SMD Kosmic) stepping up.

They will take on Senior class regulars - the likes of Tiago Rebelo (Calex Birel), Shannon Jackson (CRG) and Joshua Dias. But all of the above will have their work more than just cut out by veteran Cape trio, Luke Herring (RKT Kosmic), Umpie Swart (EMR CRG) and Dino Stermin (RKT Designer Trims Kosmic) for their slice of the spoils.

The high school Junior Max gang will see Jozi’s finest in Blaine Rademeyer (FA Kart), World Mini Max champion Jayden Els (Electro Thread Tony Kart), Wyland Wyman and lady racers Cameron Dias and Tiffany Napier (Design Waterproofing Birel) up against the best Junior drivers from the Cape. 

They include WP champion Jason Coetzee (RKT Kosmic), 2016 Junior national runner-up Sebastian Boyd (Boyd Boss Kosmic) and impressive Junior rookies; SA Mini Rok champ Charl Visser (Charl Engineering FA Kart) and Simon Simpson-Heath (SHQS/SAKRA Kosmic). Don’t overlook Zaeem Goolam (Praga), Dominic Lincoln (Tony Kart) Jamie Smith on an all-new Ricciardo chassis, Shrien Naidoo and Troy Snyman and Angolan Rodrigo Almeida among this lot.

In the primary school classes, the established under-12 Maxterinos will see upcountry racers Joshua de Paiva, Jordan Brooks (Atlas Copco Birel), Muhammad Wally (Tony Kart), Aqil Alibhai, Bjorn Bertholdt and Troy Snyman taking on a strong Cape contingent including Troy Dolinschek (Makita Kosmic), Kyle Visser (Charl Engineering Zanardi) and Tate Bishop (TPB Kosmic).

Two new karting classes will race in full national championships for the first time this year starting at Vereeniging — the under-14 Mini Max class returns with Gauteng lads Daniel de Paiva, Jarrod Waberski and Aqil Alibhai racing against Cape raiders Kai van Zijl (SAKRA Kosmic), Tate Bishop (TPB Kosmic), Thaqib Meyer (Itheko CRG) and Sibo Solomon (Kosmic) as well as KZN duo Liam de Beer and Troy Snyman.

The other new class is the under-12 Micro Max, which will see Jozi stars Joshua de Paiva, impressive Cadet graduate Mohammed Moerat (Praga), Muhammad Wally (Tony Kart), Reece Fuller (RaceArt Gold Kart), Kyle Beukes (JAE CRG), Jayden Goosen, Judd Bertholdt and Hriday Pooren up against Cape crew Reza Levy, Julius Schwager and Joaquin de Oliveira, with KZN driver Dhiyven Naidoo also in the mix.

Find the Laserfische Raceway on van Riebeeck Street, Vereeniging next to the Vaal Show Grounds, left off the Boy Louw Street off-ramp heading south on the R59 Vereeniging freeway. Scrumptious refreshments are on sale at the circuit and entrance is free — what better to do on that day off than go watch SA’s greatest drivers of the moment fighting it out on the kart track.