WhatRotax Max Grand Semi Finals Report
WhereSarno, Napoli, Italy
WhenFriday 25 October 2019

SA drivers star in Pre Finals

There was the usual agony and ecstasy in the South African camp following Friday's crucial Rotax Max Grand Pre Finals at Sarno, Italy. The ecstasy flowed for Nicholas Verheul, Jonathan Pieterse, Aqil Aibhai, Troy Dolinschek, Troy Snyman and Rees Koorzen ho all made it through to Saturday’s Grand Finals, but the agony was palpable for SA’s heroes who will not make it through, as Jono Thomas, Benjamin Habig, Wayland Wyman, Bret Brito and Charl Visser packed their bags.

Friday was a great day for young Troy Snyman, who finally caught a break and drove an incredible under-13 Pre Final to storm from 24th on the grid to fifth at the flag as he also broke the circuit lap record en route. Troy made up 19 places to put himself squarely back into contention for a proper shot at victory from fifth on the grid in Saturday’s Grand Final.

Over-30 DD2 Masters duo Nic Verheul and Jono Pieterse drove no risk Pre Final races to claim their Grand Final slots. Edenvale driver Verheul ended up a close fourth, while KZN man Pieterse drove a measured race to fourth despite being shuffled off track and then making those two positions back in a couple of precise moves. Verheul starts the DD2 Masters Grand Final from sixth, while Pieterse will set off in 12th, although penalties for rivals could still see both move a little up the grid...

Junior Max lads Aqil Alibhai and Troy Dolinchek both fought back hard to overcome a difficult build-up week and paint the eleventh row of the under-15 Grand Final grid a South African shade of green and gold in 21st and 22nd. Jozi star Alibhai made up seven places with a decisive drive in his Pre Final, but was later helped off at the treacherous Turn 2, before a robust chase back to 8th. Cape lad Dolinschek had to work very hard to defend his 13th position at the flag.

Like several of his teammates, South Africa’s Under-11 hope Reese Koorzen made up for a terrible week with a sterling drive in Micro Max as he made gained places in his Pre Final, four of which were on the final lap of the race. Cape Town driver Koorzen starts his Grand Final from 26th on the grid.

DD2 went south early on for Ballito lad Habig and Capetonian Thomas — both were forced to retire following the same opening lap incident, while Jozi kid Wayland Wyman made up several positions in his Pre Final, but that was not enough to prevent elimination. All is not lost for South Africa in the DD2 Grand Finals however — Luca Munaretto who moved to Italy a couple of years back and is racing for the Italian team, starts third in Saturday’s Final following a strong week at Sarno.

It was a case of close, but no cigar for Cape driver Charl Visser, who started 24th in his Senior Max Pre Final before slipping back early on. The Capetonian clawed back to 22nd, bit that was still not enough to qualify and Charl will be supporting his teammates on Saturday.

The annual Grand Finals see the Rotax Max national champions from over 80 countries fighting it out to crown the best in the world every year, all racing identical karts provided free of charge with only minor set-up changes allowed to ensure closest possible racing. A series of three heats in each of the six classes Wednesday and Thursday determined the 36-kart starting grids for Friday’s knock-out Pre Finals, with the top 36 drivers in each class qualifying to race in Saturday’s Finals.

Follow Saturday’s action through live streaming and timing from Sarno on


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