The second round of the WPMC Karting Championship took place under the ominous cloud of COVID-19. As this goes to press, gatherings of more than 100 people have been banned, as has any non-essential travel.

It is very likely that any karting races over the next 30 days will be postponed. This is obviously far from ideal, but we must play our part as a community in stopping this virus from causing substantial hardship in South Africa.

Onto the racing.

This was the first SARMC event of the year, so the race meeting was important for those competing in the Rotax National Championship. 

Although their National next weekend at Killarney now hangs in the balance, the additional ROK drivers in town certainly added to the buzz in the pitlane, with unfamiliar faces and impressive racing team rigs parked all over the place. Kid ROK and particularly KZ unfortunately had too few entries to constitute a class and won’t be reported on in detail.

There were enough ROK drivers on track to change the grip conditions, as the sticky Bridgestone tyres challenged the Rotax drivers who are used to lower surface grip. A bouncing kart through Golf Club is never fun for the ol’ rib cage.

Bambino (5th – 9th birthday)

As expected, Kai van Rensburg (7Films Top Kart) set the pace as the only driver to break the 1 minute mark in qualifying. Aiden Beaumont (Top Kart) managed to put his little machine on the front row alongside van Rensburg.  Up-country visitor Mattao Mason (BirelART Top Kart) narrowly saw off John Norman (Body Elite Top Kart) as the top 4 clearly differentiated themselves from the rest of the field on pace.

Heat 1 was an easy win for van Rensburg on a quicker track, posting a time over 0.5s faster than P2 finisher Mason. Beaumont claimed P3 at the flag. Siyabonga Ntuli (Top Kart) drove an excellent race to take P4 ahead of Matthew Roach (Mutual Valet Centre Top Kart) and Norman whose flag position didn’t reflect his race pace.

Heat 2 was another walk in the park for van Rensburg as his rivals battled it out on track. Beaumont was best of the rest with P2 ahead of Mason and Norman.

Van Rensburg’s outstanding race form didn’t skip a beat, making it 3 from 3 (and 6 from 6 for the year) with another emphatic victory in Heat 3. Mason claimed another P2 ahead of Beaumont who narrowly beat Norman at the flag.

Overall, van Rensburg obviously claimed P1 and a maximum points haul of 105 points once again. Mason cannot score in the WPMC Championship, but he took P2 for the day ahead of Beaumont in P3. Norman claimed P4 ahead of Sebastiano Human (Top Kart) who was rewarded for consistent finishes. Roach and Ntuli finished P6 and P7 respectively.

Liam Wharton (Vishay Interiors Top Kart) took best of the rest, ahead of Maddox Mason (BirelART Top Kart) and local girls Riley Stier (Top Kart) and Rebecca Wadeley (Top Kart). Michael Danks (Top Kart) rounded out the class in P12, with Zach McAuley classified P13 after a torrid day where he only participated in Heat 1. 

Rotax Micro MAX (7th – 12th birthday)

The Beaumont family have firmly planted themselves at the sharp end of Killarney karting since moving to Cape Town recently. Although Reese Koorzen (Zenkor Engineering Kosmic) surprised no-one by taking pole position in qualifying, Keagan Beaumont (Strive Praga) raised a few eyebrows by putting his kart on the front row ahead of Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic). Jordon Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG) qualified P4, putting himself in the podium fight. 

Heat 1 went to plan for Koorzen as he took the flag for P1, but not for Beaumont who slipped down the order to finish P4 behind Smit and Wadeley. 

Heat 2 was a cracking battle that saw Smit take P1 by the narrowest of margins from Koorzen – just 0.039s at the flag! That’s almost a side-by-side finish after 12 laps of hard racing. Beaumont got the better of Wadeley to take P3. 

Heat 3 was incredible to watch, with Koorzen making his move right before the end of the race to take the flag away from Smit. There was subsequent drama however, as Smit was demoted 5 places by the COC for an infringement during the start. A tough pill to swallow for the S&S Racing team, but Wadeley would have been only too pleased to be promoted to P2 ahead of Beaumont. 

Koorzen took the overall win for the day with a near-perfect 102 points haul. Smit still claimed P2 despite the unfortunate outcome of Heat 3. Wadeley fought hard to take the final spot on the podium ahead of a determined Beaumont who will be one to watch this year.

Dale Hobbs finished best of the rest in P5, ahead of Eric Norman (Body Elite Praga) and Sabelo Ntuli (Gingerroot Kosmic). 

Mini ROK (8th – 13th birthday)

Whatever it was that Ethan Lennon’s (FTW Tony Kart) family gave him for breakfast on Saturday morning clearly worked. After setting a brilliant time and coming in after just 5 laps of qualifying, his competitors had no answer despite each staying out for the full qualifying slot.  

Visitor Jayden Goosen (PTA Noord Toyota Kosmic) and local hero Joaquin De Oliveira (Parolin) qualified P2 and P3 respectively, ahead of Luviwe Sambudla (Impuma / VW Squadra Corse Exprit).

Heat 1 was a bitterly contested affair, evidenced by no fewer than 4 nose cone penalties dished out across the field. It was enough for Lennon to be classified P1 ahead of Goosen and De Oliveira. Luke Hill (Steelform / Powasol RS) powered his beautiful Ralf Schumacher kart to P4, finishing just ahead of Sambudla. Special mention must go to Jayden Goosen for breaking the lap record on a track that he doesn’t get much practice on!

De Oliveira finally returned to his usual spot in Heat 2, taking the flag ahead of Lennon, Goosen and Kent Swartz (Parolin). Rayan Karriem (RK Racing / Outsourcing Solutions Tony Kart) deserves special mention for P5 in this heat, demonstrating the progress his team is looking for in this new class.

The race stewards were kept busy in Heat 3 again, with various nose cone penalties as well as a three place penalty for De Oliveira that ruined his day overall, relegating him to P5 after finishing behind Goosen on track in P2. Lennon was promoted to P2 ahead of Hill and Swartz. 

As the dust settled after highly competitive racing, it was Lennon on the top step of the podium ahead of Goosen and De Oliveira. Although it may seem that De Oliveira will take some comfort from the fact that Goosen doesn’t score in the WPMC Championship, removing the up-country visitors actually sees Lennon scoring 7 points more than De Oliveira, instead of 6 points if they are included.

Swartz finished P4 ahead of Hill and Sambudla. Karriem was classified P7 overall, seeing off Caleb Odendaal (BirelART Birel), William Marshall (Tony Kart) and Jude Stuart (Tony Kart). 

Rotax Mini MAX (9th – 14th birthday)

Mini MAX is quickly becoming one of the most exciting classes on the programme. 

Jason MacBeath (Tony Kart) claimed pole position ahead of Ethan Deacon (Tony Kart) who put in the qualifying performance of his life to put his kart on the front row. Ethan Stier (Stier Racing Team Kosmic) managed P3 in qualifying, ahead of Reza Levy (CRG). Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic) was only slightly further back in pace, rounding out a top 5 who would slug it out for the podium.

Heat 1 was a victory for MacBeath, but Levy sent a very clear message with a new track record of 44.225s on his way to a P2 finish. Stier and Smit took P3 and P4 as Deacon dropped back to P5 after his qualifying heroics. 

MacBeath had a far less pleasant experience in Heat 2, scrapping with his rivals for several laps before he retired his kart before the end of the race. Levy took full advantage, taking the race win just ahead of Deacon with a brilliant P2. Stier and Smit finished P3 and P4 once again.

Although Levy managed another excellent win in Heat 3, MacBeath was sending his own clear message by breaking Levy’s track record that was only a few hours old. Deacon shot the lights out with another P2, managing to keep MacBeath at bay despite his incredible pace. Notably, Paul Malcolm (Cape Pots CRG) finished in P5 ahead of Smit. 

Team Levy will be thrilled with his overall win for the day as they mount their assault on the Mini MAX Championship. Hero of the day, despite Levy’s wonderful performance, was Deacon. The father-and-son team achieved a P2 finish overall on a day they will never forget. MacBeath’s P3 and lap record will give that team plenty to smile about.

Team Stier will be doing serious head scratching at the moment, as young Ethan watched the others on the podium for the second race in a row. He’s not defending Champion for nothing though and should never be counted out. 

Smit was classified P5 ahead of Jude Stuart (Tony Kart) who did very well in his first 125cc race. Malcolm finished P7 ahead of Namibian visitor Guido Bruno Bidoli (ITAKA Birel) who certainly had the fastest sounding name on the day.

Rotax Junior MAX (12th – 16th birthday)

Junior MAX and Senior MAX ran together, causing some chaos particularly under blue flags as the incredibly fast Senior MAX lead pack came through to lap the back of Junior MAX.

Troy Dolinschek (Makita Kosmic) narrowly out-qualified Kyle Visser (Charl Engineering Tony Kart) to take pole position by just 0.02s. Andre Le Riche (Seleka Racing Kosmic) qualified P3 ahead of brother Kyle Le Riche (Seleka Racing Kosmic).

Visser’s amazing pace (and new lap record in Heat 1) didn’t translate into a result, after an incident around the 13th lap led to his retirement. Dolinschek claimed victory ahead of Andre and Kyle Le Riche.

Dolinschek made it two in a row in the second heat, ahead of Visser and Andre Le Riche. 

Heat 3 finally saw Visser rewarded with the result he wanted, taking the flag ahead of Dolinschek. In a victory for Kyles in general, it was Kyle Le Riche who finished ahead of his brother this time for P3. 

Dolinschek took overall honours for the day, 9 points ahead of Visser. The Le Riche brothers both finished on 90 points, but Andre was awarded the podium spot by virtue of his P2 finish in the first heat. 

Matthew Wadeley (EMR Kartsport Zanardi) was best of the rest ahead of Paul Malcolm (EMR CRG) and Reza Levy (CRG).

OKJ (12th birthday – 15th birthday)

Luca Wehrli (Tony Kart) produced an incredible lap to put his kart on pole position against this potent field of teenage karters. Muhammad Wally (CAT 99 Group Exprit) was just a couple of hundredths back, relegating Capetonian talent Tate Bishop (ANGRi Jeep Kosmic) to the second row. Nikolas Roos (CEF Manufacturing Kosmic) and Joseph Oelz (BirelART SA Birel) also showed front-running pace in qualifying. 

Wehrli continued his extraordinary run of pace in Heat 1, breaking the lap record with a blistering 40.370s lap time. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a reflection of where he finished, as he could only manage P4 after dropping back to P3 at the start. Bishop took the win ahead of Oelz who had an excellent start and Wally in P3. Roos had to fight back to P5 behind Wehrli after dropping right to the back at the start.

Bishop made it two from two after fighting his way through Oelz and Wehrli to P1. Wehrli held on to P2, but Oelz succumbed to Wally in the latter stages of the race after Wally made amends for a difficult start.

Bishop topped off a wonderful day with a third win, truly a brilliant achievement against such a talented field. Oelz held on for P2 but it was Roos who had the most thrilling drive of the heat, suffering every emotional up and down you can imagine. After a cracking start, he dropped back to P6 before fighting his way back to an excellent P3. Wehrli must also be commended for a brave drive from P7 to P4. Wally retired from the heat, ruining his chances of a podium for the day.

Overall, Bishop stood proudly on the top step of the podium with an emphatic display of raw driving talent. He was joined by Oelz and Wehrli, with a Cape Town domination of the podium despite the strong challenge from visiting drivers.

Roos and Wally finished P4 and P5 respectively. Jason MacBeath finished strongly in P6, seeing off Ndumiso Bungane (VW Squadra Corse Exprit), Mika Abrahams (Kosmic), Lagson Leäo (VW Squadra Corse FA), Taya Van Der Laan (Exprit), Josh Le Roux (Exprit), Aiden Hall (Praga) and Anthony Pretorius (Birel).

Rotax Senior MAX (14th birthday +)

Charl Visser (Charl Engineering Tony Kart) broke the 41s mark, putting his kart on pole position ahead of Bishop, Jason Coetzee (EMR Kartsport CRG) and Kai van Zijl (Unlimited Auto Kosmic). With just 0.2s separating the top four drivers, the crowd was in for seriously tight racing.

In Heat 1, we had the once-in-a-lifetime situation of both Visser brothers breaking the lap record while on track at the same time. As Kyle broke the Junior MAX record, Charl broke the Senior MAX record with a 41.261s lap time (significantly slower than the insane qualifying times seen earlier in the day).

Coetzee has a huge reputation in Senior MAX and he reminded everyone of that fact with yet another win in Heat 2. Amazingly, Bishop broke the lap record that belonged to Visser over the lunchtime break, putting in a 41.251s lap time but not taking the win. It seems as though you need to choose between P1 or the lap record at Killarney! Visser came home in P3 and van Zijl in P4.

Heat 3 was final proof of how ridiculous this class is. Clearly feeling left out of the action, van Zijl became the third record breaker on the day, nailing a 41.145s time to the mast. He obviously didn’t win the heat though, because record breakers don’t get the flag. Bishop took top honours ahead of Coetzee and van Zijl with Visser in P4.

Overall, Coetzee stood on the top step of the podium, having beaten Bishop and Visser in a day of exceptional racing. Van Zijl left the day as a lap record holder without a podium spot, which really sums up the class.

Tahier Ramlall travelled from Joburg to race against this exceptional group of drivers. He had a difficult day with a DNF and a DNS, finishing P5 for the day.

Rotax DD2 (15th birthday +)

With a smaller entry list than usual, the DD2 class saw a titanic battle at the front between Sebastian Boyd (Boyd Boss Freight Birel) and Jason Coetzee (CRG). Michael Jordan (CRG) joined the grid from Senior MAX. A few of the Masters entered both DD2 and DD2 Masters, but they will be reported on under Masters.

Boyd qualified on pole, demonstrating the pace that saw him take his first overall win in round 1 against a larger field. In Heat 1, Coetzee led for the opening laps until Boyd made his move halfway through the race to take the lead, holding P1 until the flag. Heat 2 was a lights to flag affair and another win for Boyd.

Heat 3 was an excellent battle, with Boyd and Coetzee swapping positions several times. After a great fight, Boyd took the flag by 0.365s, making it three wins for the day. 

Jordan found pace on the day, mixing it up with the Masters in an overall DD2 class that has exceptional pace. To be running low 42s in your debut DD2 race is no small achievement.

Overall, Boyd took P1 from Coetzee. Jason Greyling (Nigma Media CRG) drove an exceptional race with P3 for DD2 overall ahead of  Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee Media / Blake Brothers CRG), Conor Hughes (Natasha Hughes Tony Kart) and Jordan. 

Rotax DD2 Masters (32nd birthday + / 85kgs driver)

Roy Gruer (Tony Kart) put in a properly quick lap for qualifying, posting a 41.002s lap time. His rival going into the season, Conor Hughes (Natasha Hughes Tony Kart), came in underweight on the scale and was excluded from qualifying in a bit of bad luck that was only the start of his tough day in the office.

Jason Greyling (Hi-Tech Doors, Nigma Media CRG) has positioned himself as a proper challenger for the Championship this year, qualifying P2 just a few hundredths behind Gruer. Half a second back, Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee Media / Blake Brothers CRG) narrowly outgunned Jared Jordan (Jordan Racing CRG).

Greyling showed exactly why he is giving the 2019 Championship contenders even more grey hairs, banking a P1 finish in Heat 1 ahead of Thomas and Gruer. Hughes had to start Heat 1 from the back and that’s never a fun place to be in a DD2 race, with a lot of wide karts to get through before scoring proper points. He only managed P7 although his lap time meant he would be back up the starting grid for Heat 2.

Heat 2 was better for Gruer, finishing P1 ahead of a much happier Hughes. Greyling took P3 ahead of Jacques de Bruyn (Tony Kart) who banked another useful P4.

Heat 3 was utter chaos. Gruer and Hughes had a huge coming together out of the 180s that hurt both their races. Sometimes adversity is your friend, as Hughes got back on the track and drove his way to a blistering personal best of 41.169s. Perhaps a bent kart is faster than a straight kart? 

Separately, Greyling and de Bruyn played bumper karts through the 2nd 180, with Greyling definitely coming off best.

In a haze of dust and broken pieces of karts, Greyling took P1 ahead of Jordan who was thrilled to bank P2. Thomas came home in P3.

Greyling came out tops for the day, joined on the podium by Gruer and Thomas. Jordan narrowly missed out on a podium, with de Bruyn in P5. Hughes had a day he would rather forget, finishing P6 ahead of Robert Peche (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG) and Andre Steenkamp (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG).

Conclusion

It seems that competitive karting may be in for a short break, as South Africa scrambles to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

We ask all karting families to think of the greater good at this time, knowing that our sport will be back in action soon. We hope that races can be postponed rather than cancelled, depending how long the ban on public gatherings is in force for.

We can’t wait for things to get back to normal so we can line up on the grid again!

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

Issued on behalf of Western Province Motor Club (WPMC)