South African titles going down to the line

Race fans can expect racing of the absolute highest order when the 2017 South African Rotax Max National Karting Championships come to a head at the Zwartkops Kart Circuit Saturday 23 September, with most classes’ championship chases poised on a knife’s edge. There’s plenty at stake too, with six of the seven champions sealing a trip to race and represent South Africa at the Rotax Max World Finals in November, so it’s all to play for, which means that the action will be explosive and the tension extreme.

Senior shenanigans
The biggest attraction of all has to be in Senior Max – the Championship leader Luke Herring and Cape archrival Jason Coetzee‘s last encounter at a Killarney regional (which races contributed to their national scores) ended with both drivers excluded following shenanigans at that meeting, so there’s no love lost as they head to Zwartkops split by two championship points.

Even more exciting is that Jozi driver Cameron O'Connor sits between the two Cape fighters, so there are three drivers within two championship points in this race and with both Herring and O’Connor likely to drop less points after Saturday versus Coetzee, who has scored more consistently this year. Reason for that is that drivers will drop their three worst race results through the year from their championship tally, which adds a most interesting twist to the whole story.

It does not end there however – Cape driver Dino Stermin sits just six points behind Coetzee in the chase and with the likes of Ballito lad Daniel Duminy and East London lass Shannon Jackson in the fray, anything can happen…

Junior jostling
There’s another ultra close fight set in Junior Max – the under-15 high school class that runs slightly detuned 125cc Rotax Max race engines where it’s set to be a tight three-way battle between Cape trio Sebastian Boyd, who holds an 8-point lead over Jason Coetzee, with SA’s CIK-FIA karter Charl Visser another six points adrift in third. Durban lad Dominic Lincoln is next up, ahead of reigning Mini Max world champion Jayden Els and another karting lass, Cameron Dias and there should not be any surprises here as most of the top six have scored consistently this season.

Talking about Mini Max, that’s one of the few classes where the champion elect simply has to score well to win to take the ticket – Johannesburg kid Leyton Fourie takes a sizeable title advantage heading into this one, leaving the fight for second between Cape lads Kai van Zijl and Tate Bishop and Gauteng two Daniel De Paiva and Aqil Alibhai, who has a bad score to drop weighing in his favour. Mini Max caters for under-13 primary school kids racing detuned water-cooled Rotax 125cc race engines.

The under-12 Maxterino champion will earn a ticket to watch the World Finals as that 60cc air-cooled class does not race there, but there’s a splendidly close North versus South battle going down for that national title between Cape Town kid Tate Bishop, Jozi lad Aqil Alibhai, another Capetonian Troy Dolinschek, Jozi lads Jordan Brooks and Joshua de Paiva and Cape Town’s Kyle Visser. Visser has two bad races to drop and de Paiva one, all of which could contribute to a last lap surprise…

Micro masters
The smallest class on the day, Micro Max will crown SA’s youngest national karting champion, who will travel to Portugal to represent SA racing in the World Final and Johannesburg lightie Muhammad Wally basically has one hand on that ticket with a handy championship lead. The dice in this most-detuned Rotax watercooled 125cc under 11 primary school category is for second between Jozi lad Joshua De Paiva, Cape lads Valentino Hoffman and Reza Levy and Jozi duo Mohammed Moerat and Jayden Goosen. But Levy has two bad scores to drop and Goosen one, so there’s a twist lurking in that tail too.

Last mentioned and most certainly not least significant is the jewel in the Rotax Max karting crown – the powerful open class 125cc gearbox-equipped DD2s, where Johannesburg lad and Mini GTC2 race driver Bradley Liebenberg is on course to win his fourth SA DD2 title on the trot against some quite illustrious opposition. Cape Town driver Jurie Swart Brad’s closest rival, but two SA race legends sit second and third…

Reigning Sasol GTC champion and championship leader there, Audi driver Michael Stephen sits third in the DD2 title race and Dakar star and Toyota’s reigning double-SA rally and cross-country champion Leeroy Poulter are next up, although Poulter will not make the final, although his competing certainly has raised the profile of the class. Rapid karting lass Ivana Cetinich is also in championship contention but keep an eye out for KZN kid, Polo Cup racer Benjamin Habig who is perhaps a bigger danger than it seems, thanks to his having less points to drop come the time to tally it all up.

Ace's ace
Stephen however has an ace up his sleeve in that he leads the over-30 DD2 Masters class by a handy margin over Jonathan Pieterse and Poulter and he would dearly love to get back to Portimao to revenge being taken out of the World Final lead on the final lap there two years ago…

Entrance to the Zwartkops Kart raceway is free — the track is situated at the Zwartkops Raceway on the R55 just outside Laudium, Pretoria and the facility offers great grub at the clubhouse, full amenities and of course, you will be treated to a spellbinding day’s karting…