There’s something special about a visit to the track when nobody else is around. A task as simple as fetching something from your garage becomes an occasion as you walk down the empty pit area, soaking it all in.

Shutter doors rattle in the wind and bolts lie on the floor. Advertising boards bend against the walls as Cape Town’s wind races across the tarmac. Like the eerie experience of visiting an ancient arena in Europe, there’s a clear feeling that battles have been fought here. 

Pain and elation have walked hand in hand in this place. Demons have been faced and emotional hurdles have been overcome. Those who understand the feeling of putting it all on the line will know exactly what motorsport has done for their lives.

Killarney International Raceway offers one of the best karting facilities in the country. With tarmac that has only seen a year of action and a talent pool so deep that mere tenths of a second sometimes separate the top 6 in any class, we are privileged to be able to race here.

The 2020 season is here. Over 75 karters will line up this weekend to begin a campaign that will run until October, when regional champions are crowned. If past years are anything to go by, we will end the year off by wishing the best of luck to several Capetonians who will proudly wear their South African colours at the world championships.

As rebuilt engines are run in and setups are fine-tuned, we are thrilled to present our first race preview for the 2020 season.

Bambino (5th – 9th birthday)

There will be a new sheriff in town this year as 2019 champion Rayan Karriem leaves behind Bambino and moves up to Mini ROK. The Top Kart chassis used by all Bambino competitors will provide the foundation for brilliant, tight racing with a significant helping of cuteness factor. 

An entry list of 11 Bambinos is a clear sign of growth in the sport. These youngsters develop quickly over the year, often finding several seconds a lap in pace over just a few weeks. Anyone in the older classes would do practically anything just to find another few tenths of pace, let alone a few seconds!

Although it is way too early to make any championship predictions, the reality is that Kai van Rensburg (Top Kart) looks like the man to beat this year. He put in a mega performance in 2019 against stiff competition.

The surname Beaumont is no stranger to karting, with youngest competitor Aidan lining up this weekend after a family move to Cape Town.

We welcome back 2019 Bambinos Michael Danks, Riley Stier (with a proudly pink frame), Rebecca Wadeley, John Norman (Body Elite), Matthew Smit and Siyabonga Ntuli. 

Newcomers Zach McAuley, Liam Wharton and Sebastiano Human will be keen to make an impression as their parents burst with pride on the sidelines.

Can any of them catch van Rensburg this year?

Micro MAX (7th – 12th birthday)

The 2019 season was unbelievable in Micro MAX. The competition among the frontrunners was as fierce as we’ve seen in any sport at any level. 

After the dust settled in 2019, it was Reese Koorzen who emerged as WPMC Champion, rounding out a perfect year that saw him also win the National Championship and represent his country in Italy. 

After that run of form and with his closest rival moving to other classes, Koorzen has to be the clear favourite for 2020. However, Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic) is extremely handy in a kart and gave the top two a scare more than once last year. He’s racing three classes this weekend (yes…three!) so his fitness will need to be incredible. 

Jordon Wadeley (CRG) isn’t here to play games either. With a stunning debut season in Bambinos and serious technical expertise behind him in the pits, Team Wadeley is a racing package that cannot be ignored.

Sabelo Ntuli and Yusuf Parker (Parkers Parts Centre CRG) return to do battle alongside another Bambino graduate, Eric Norman (Body Elite Praga). Keagan Beaumont will have to get used to the low altitude realities of racing in Cape Town while Dale Hobbs rounds out the eight kart grid. 

Mini ROK (8th – 13th birthday)

The ROK class has grown as well this year, swelling to 10 entries for this weekend’s season opener.

There is serious talent on this grid.

Defending champion Joaquin de Oliveira (Parolin) has a slick new chassis and clear focus for this year. Although his biggest rivals from 2019 either aren’t racing locally this season or have moved class, he will face plenty of other challenges.

Joshua Smit (Kosmic) is a strong ROK competitor and will be at the sharp end for sure. There will be plenty of focus on Rayan Karriem, the 2019 Bambino Champion who makes the leap into Mini ROK. He is joined by Bambino graduates Nikolas Louw and Eric Norman.

Ethan Lennon (FTW Tony Kart) and Jude Stuart (Tony Kart) are becoming experienced karters and will be keen to keep making gains as they line up with William Marshall (Kosmic) on the grid. 

To add further excitement to the mix, we have three out-of-towners travelling to Cape Town to test the freezing cold waters. Jayden Goosen, Berlin Robinson and KC Ensor-Smith (African Heating Tony Kart) will be fascinating to watch against the drivers who live and breathe this tarmac.

Mini MAX (9th – 14th birthday)

Any racing fan can only hope for a Championship battle as tight as the 2019 season, where Ethan Stier (Kosmic) and Jason MacBeath went toe-to-toe the entire year. Stier dominated the first half of the season and MacBeath the second half in a duel that was eventually decided by just 2 points in favour of Stier.

Sounds juicy, doesn’t it? It gets better, though.

Throwing a huge cat among the pigeons is Reza Levy (EMR Kartsport CRG), who fought hard for the 2019 WPMC Micro MAX Championship before losing out to Reese Koorzen. He moves up to Mini MAX and we can all but guarantee that he will be right on pace from the start. 

Forgive us for starting to sound like a daytime television advert, but wait folks, there’s more…

Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic) whose family obviously think he is made of reinforced steel has entered a third class. This youngster has incredible determination and may well disturb the party at the front, if his arms can survive the day.

Although they race with far more modest infrastructure, Ethan Deacon (CRG) and Paul Malcolm (Cape Pots CRG) represent so much of what makes the sport special. As the two fathers swing their spanners, their boys race with heart and soul and will keep each other company on track as they chase their own definition of victory. 

Mini MAX may only have 6 entries, but it is one of the most highly anticipated Championship fights of the year.

Junior MAX (12th – 16th birthday)

This class gave us a Championship battle in 2019 that the bosses of Formula 1 wish they could deliver to spectators.

Of the three protagonists, one has moved class and the other two have stayed in Junior MAX to slug it out another year. Troy Dolinschek (Makita Powertools Kosmic) is the defending Champion, but Kyle Visser (RKT Tony Kart) will have plenty to say about that this year. 

There is also the small matter of Troy Snyman (Snyman Tony Kart). The Natal-based racer travels to Killarney this weekend with a goal of showing everyone why he was Mini MAX National Champion last year and was leading the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Final in Italy until a heartbreaking collision in the closing stages of the race.

Interestingly, Reza Levy (EMR Kartsport CRG) will do double duty this weekend, making his debut in Junior MAX in addition to Mini MAX. This looks like a steep learning curve for him, but the 2019 WPMC Micro MAX runner-up is a force to be reckoned with in a kart.

Brothers Andre (Seleka Racing Kosmic) and Kyle Le Riche (Seleka Racing Kosmic) always bring a smile and a warm greeting to the pit lane. We look forward to seeing how their seasons play out as they are joined on grid by Matthew Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG) who rounds out the Wadeley karting trio.

Mikaeel Moolla is a new name on the entry list who we look forward to welcoming on the grid.

OKJ (12th birthday – 15th birthday)

The ROK alternative for early teenagers is now on the WPMC calendar and has attracted 7 entries for this race. 

The talent pool in this class is something to behold. 

Joseph Oelz (Birel), Tate Bishop (ANGRi Kosmic), Leyton Fourie (Kosmic) and Troy Dolinschek (Kosmic) are all considered among the most talented pairs of hands to hold a kart steering wheel in this country. The racing among this group is going to be magical.

Jason MacBeath (Tony Kart) and Luca Wehrli (Tony Kart) are experienced drivers who should never be counted out of anything. They are joined on track by Northerns visitor Tyler Robinson.

Nikolas Roos (RKT Kosmic) is another talented karter who makes the leap from Mini ROK this year. He will be one to watch.

Senior MAX (14th birthday +)

2019 offered a season full of drama. The battle between Charl Visser (RKT FA) and Kai van Zijl (Unlimited Auto ANGRi Kosmic) was a rollercoaster ride for all involved. Visser came out tops, but van Zijl will do everything in his power to stop that happening again.

Before either of those two get ahead of themselves, they may want to read down the entry list until they find the name Jason Coetzee. Somewhat of a Senior MAX guru, Coetzee has won more races than most of us have ever entered. 

Andrew Rackstraw (CRG) and Reece Oellermann (CRG) have taken up residence in Stellenbosch with Matric becoming a distant memory, but a month of late nights won’t have impacted their ability to pedal a kart with serious intent. Rackstraw in particular has a big year ahead of him on track and will be ready to get the best possible start. 

Storm Lanfear (Private Client Financial Kosmic), official giant killer of the 2019 season, is back and ready to work his signature opening lap magic in this talented field.

Brothers Michael (CRG) and Jared Jordan (CRG) will square off on track as they work to close the gap to the youngsters in front. They are joined by Tristan Reddy (CRG).

DD2 (15th birthday +)

In a surprising turn of events, the DD2 class is now significantly smaller than the DD2 Masters class. The classes race at the same time though, which means no fewer than 16 screaming DD2s will eat up corner after corner of this beautiful track.

The man to beat is Dino Stermin (Phoenix Risk Solutions Tony Kart) who brings an absolute touch of class to any field he graces. He faces a significant challenge from Jason Coetzee (CRG), one of the country’s finest karters. Stermin only beat Coetzee by 6 points in 2019.

Sebastian Boyd (Boyd Boss Freight Birel) quietly went about his business in 2019, making substantial gains and sending a clear sign of intent that he is perfectly capable of winning races. He is a force to be reckoned with.

Class debutant Charl Visser (RKT Kosmic) rounds off this amazing sharp end, bringing huge team expertise into a class of karting that he isn’t accustomed to. You can be sure that he will be highly competitive in his debut year.

Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee / Blake Brothers CRG) and Jason Greyling (Nigma Media CRG) will score in both the DD2 class and the DD2 Masters class, although their track position will be among the Masters. 

DD2 Masters (32nd birthday + or > 85kg’s)

We would wager that this is one of the most passionate and competitive regional DD2 Masters grids anywhere in the world. 

With 12 entries and more drivers preparing for entry in subsequent rounds, this class offers adults an irresistible way to go racing. 

Conor Hughes (Tony Kart) was crowned 2019 Champion after a brilliant fight with Roy Gruer (Tony Kart). They will be the likely pace setters this weekend, but the rest of the field has literally been blown wide open.

Just a few tenths will separate Andre Steenkamp (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG), Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee / Blake Brothers CRG), Harry Georgiou (Dirty Dawg Racing CRG), Jason Greyling (Nigma Media CRG), Steven Beaumont, Jared Jordan (CRG), Jacques de Bruyn (Tony Kart), Ernst Viljoen (Tony Kart) and Rob Peche (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG). 

There isn’t a better midfield fight to be seen anywhere in South African karting. 

Ryan Buda (CRG) makes a welcome return to karting and will try latch onto the back of the midfield train as he gets back into the sport.

Conclusion

If it all sounds crazy, that’s because it is.

This isn’t a stepping stone in motorsport. This is as competitive and exciting as any professional motorsport anywhere in the world. Professional teams will line up against father and son teams wiping grease off their hands before pushing karts onto the grid.

2020 looks set to be the greatest karting season that Killarney has seen in many years. You know where you need to be on Saturday.

Photo credit: David Marchio (www.davidmarchio.co.za)

Issued on behalf of Western Province Motor Club (WPMC)