Valentine’s weekend saw the karting community put their love of the sport on full display. 

Anyone who has spent time around a track will know that the relationships in the pit lane aren’t always hugs and kisses, since this is an adrenaline-fueled sport with rivalries that have played out for years on end.

When it really counts though, there’s a shared love of the sport and a commitment to strong but fair racing. As karters from different regions shared the track on Saturday in a wide variety of classes, racing was the biggest winner of them all.

Bambino (5th – 9th birthday)

We called it. Pole position belonged to Michael Danks (Topkart) in a fast qualifying that saw three young drivers break the one minute mark around Killarney. Keep in mind – that’s an average speed of over 60km/h!

Danks drove away to three wins on the day, showing consistent pace and maturity. The action mainly happened behind him, as out-of-towner Kayde Cornofsky (Topkart) and Siyabonga Ntuli (Topkart) battled it out. John Norman (Body Elite Topkart) joined that fray in the final heat of the day, securing himself a P3 in that heat.

Ultimately, Danks obviously claimed the top step, followed by Cornofsky and Ntuli. Norman secured P4, ahead of Ruan Lewis (Topkart) who showed good pace. Liam Wharton (Topkart) and Zach McAuley (Topkart) rounded out the class, with a DNS each.

ROTAX Micro MAX (7th – 12th birthday)

Sharing the track with Mini MAX in a busy qualifying, Kegan Martin (Dunlop Belting Products & Mobile 1 BirelArt) showed the locals how to do it with a blistering pole position. Aiden Beaumont (Birel) was the only other driver who got close to Martin, an impressive result for the Bambino graduate. 

Martin took the win in Race 1 but had to work hard to keep Dale Hobbs (Parolin) out. Beaumont finished a few seconds behind them. 

Race 2 was a different beast entirely, as an incident saw Martin drop to the back around the halfway mark. That left Hobbs to take the flag ahead of Beaumont and Eric Norman (Body Elite Kosmic).

Race 3 was another win for Martin ahead of Hobbs and Norman who managed to outdo Beaumont in a strong tussle. 

Thanks to a consistent performance, Hobbs stood on the top step at the end of the day. Martin finished P2, Beaumont P3 and Norman P4. Matthew Roach (CRG) was best of the rest ahead of Siyabonga Ntuli (Kosmic) and Kai van Rensburg (CRG) who didn’t participate in the class in the end despite being on the entry list.

Mini ROK (8th – 13th birthday)

With 19 karts on the grid, this was a busy class to say the least. Interestingly, the times were quite spread out, creating interesting bunches throughout the grid that delivered entertaining racing.

Qualifying saw Lennon (FTW Tony Kart) pip Reese Koorzen (Parolin) by the smallest of margins. Luviwe Sambudla (Exprit) put in a strong time as the best of the Squadra Corse Team from Johannesburg. Local Rayan Karriem (Tony Kart) qualified P4, with Luke Hill (RS / Fullgas RS) and Ntiyiso Mabunda (Exprit) finishing off the front three rows of the grid.

Race 1 saw a dramatic change in the lead towards the end of the race, as Lennon fell back from P1 to P4 where he would finish behind Koorzen, Sambudla and Hill. Mabunda finished P5 after a terrific battle with Hill that saw them swap places several times. Local boy Ethan Deacon (Tony Kart) came home in P6.

Race 2 was a win for Koorzen although he had to work hard for it. Hill led briefly before dropping back to P4 and finishing P3. Further down, special mention to Karriem for a strong fight back (P11 to P6), Jude Stuart (P14 to P9) and Ethan Deacon (P18 to P12), demonstrating great tenacity among the local karters.

Race 3 saw a massive setback for Koorzen as he dropped from the lead all the way down to P9, before valiantly fighting back to finish P3. Lennon did well to get to P1 in the early stages before eventually taking the flag ahead of Hill. First lap chaos at the back led to an early shower for a number of the competitors.

In the end, Koorzen took a fantastic victory for the day after a really challenging day. Lennon and Hill should feel very proud of P2 and P3 respectively. The top 6 were rounded out by Mabunda, Karriem and Sambudla.

Mini MAX (9th – 14th birthday)

Again, we called it, but honestly it wasn’t difficult. Joaquin de Oliveira (Factory Parolin) is a factory driver for a reason. He qualified fastest by over two-tenths and went on to win all three races.

Behind the Portuguese rocket, Jordon Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG) did well to grab P2 in qualifying ahead of Erich Heystek and Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic). 

Wadeley had a tough first race, losing out in the opening exchanges and eventually to Heystek in the final laps, eventually finishing P5. It was Smit in P2 and Keagan Beaumont (Parolin) in P3 at the flag.

Wadeley had better luck in Race 2, driving a lights-to-flag P2 ahead of Heystek who fought hard to take P3 away from Beaumont.

Race 3 was a well-deserved P2 for Heystek whose results improved throughout the day. Smit came home in P3 ahead of Wadeley.

Overall, de Oliveira took a full 105 points haul and the win for the day. Heystek finished P2, one point ahead of Smit who just saw off Wadeley for the final podium spot. Beaumont finished P5 ahead of Jude Stuart (Tony Kart), Ethan Deacon (Tony Kart) and Oliver Roach (CRG) 

Junior MAX (12th – 16th birthday)

A very exciting fight for the win emerged in qualifying. Reza Levy (CRG) qualified P1 in a welcome return to form for his team. Ethan Stier (Kosmic) qualified in P2 and Matthew Wadeley (CRG) in P3, both a couple of tenths behind Levy.

Levy found himself among the Senior MAX drivers in Race 1, even seeing off a couple of them! He took the Junior MAX win by 4.6s in the end from Stier, with Wadeley a country mile behind in P3. 

In Race 2, Levy astonishingly finished P3 overall on track, ahead of several Senior MAX drivers. Wadeley had a much better race, finishing 4.2s behind Levy and 10s ahead of Stier in P3. 

Whatever Wadeley had for an afternoon snack clearly worked wonders, with a lap record for Junior MAX in the final race of the day. He put in an incredible 41.449s screamer, a few tenths quicker than anyone else. He did it while chasing down Levy who finished less than 0.5s ahead at the flag.

Overall, Levy finished with a perfect 105 points result. Wadeley will be ecstatic with P2 and certainly with the lap record, while Stier will know he has some work to do to close the gap, nevertheless finishing P3 for the day which is still a commendable podium.

Jaden Jacobs (Tony Kart) did really well on debut, finishing P4 ahead of Smit with a DNS in the third race. 

Senior MAX (14th birthday +)

This class features big karts, bigger personalities and some of the biggest talents on the grid. When you have several drivers running within a few tenths of each other, with Junior MAX speedster Reza Levy often sharing the track with them for good measure, incidents are inevitable.

Qualifying saw Tate Bishop (ANGRI Kosmic) break the 41s mark, putting his kart on pole ahead of Charl Visser (FA), Jason Coetzee (Kosmic) and Andrew Rackstraw (CRG), all within two tenths of Bishop. Class debutant Kyle Visser (Tony Kart) qualifying P5.

Things got off to an awful start for Bishop in Race 1, who got off to a great start but then suffered a terminal electrical failure. Pun intended.

Coetzee didn’t play around, banking the victory with a clear track in front of him and a small gap to Rackstraw behind him. Kyle Visser took P3 in his first Senior MAX race while Storm Lanfear (Kosmic) finished P4 after missing qualifying.

Race 2 saw Bishop post obscenely quick times, driving from the back of the grid to take the victory with a fastest lap over 0.6s quicker than anyone else. Kyle Visser brought home another good result ahead of Rackstraw.

Rackstraw had an eventful fight in Race 3, dropped from the front to P5 before fighting back strongly to finish P2 behind Bishop. Coetzee finished P3 on track but was subsequently excluded after the stewards overturned an initial inconclusive decision for an on-track incident with Charl Visser. 

Although he didn’t do it with outright pace, a combination of speed and reliability saw Rackstraw take the top step for the day. Bishop finished one point behind him in P2, with Kyle Visser a further point back with a podium finish on Senior MAX debut. Lanfear, Charl Visser and Coetzee claimed the remaining spots.

DD2 (15th birthday +) and DD2 Masters (32nd birthday + / 85kgs driver)

The grid for the day looked quite different to the entry list, leaving Joseph Oelz (BirelArt) and Sebastian Boyd (Boyd Boss Freight Leclerc) to fight it out for the overall win in the premier Rotax class.

Oelz dealt with the grip conditions better on the day, as the mixture of Rotax and ROK classes created a tricky environment for the drivers. With P1 in qualifying and three wins at consistent pace, Oelz got the better of Boyd on the day to take the top step.

DD2 newbies Rafe Taylor (CRG) and Gil Simoes (CRG) both showed good pace on the day, running in the 42s in a highly respectable display. However, it was Michael Jordan (Jordan Racing CRG) who saw them off to finish P3 among the DD2-only drivers and P6 in the overall DD2 standings.

In DD2 Masters, which is scored as part of DD2 and then separately as a Masters class, Hughes was in a race of his own throughout the day. In the absence of Roy Gruer who is recovering from a broken foot after a brake failure in testing, Hughes drove to three Masters wins and P3 in DD2 overall.

Behind Hughes, Jared Jordan (Jordan Racing CRG) was consistently quicker than Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee | Blake Brothers | ImpiTec CRG), although Thomas drove well in the final race of the day to finish ahead of Jordan. They claimed P2 and P3 on the Masters podium respectively.

Steve Beaumont (CRG) has definitely improved in the off-season, doing enough to finish ahead of Andre Steenkamp (CRG) in the overall standings.

OKJ (12th – 16th birthday)

Jason MacBeath (Tony Kart), Luca Wehrli and KC Ensor-Smith (Kosmic) put in quick times during qualifying to set up an exciting battle for the day, with Ethan Stier (Tony Kart) a few tenths back.

MacBeath and Ensor-Smith drove to a P1 and P2 respectively in Race 1, while Wehrli finished P3 after battling with Sambudla who suffered misfortune by dropping right to the back in the skirmishes. 

Race 2 was a processional affair, won by Wehrli from Ensor-Smith and MacBeath. Race 3 also saw minimal overtaking, other than a good struggle between Ensor-Smith and Wehrli which Ensor-Smith emerged victorious from.

Overall, Ensor-Smith claimed victory ahead of the locals. Wehrli finished P2, MacBeath P3 and Stier P4. It was great to see Mischa Williams back at the track, who finished P5 ahead of Sambudla who didn’t race in the final heat.

KZ2 (15th birthday +)

The KZ2 gearbox karts were the quickest on the day, sounding good and looking fast through the exit of pit bend and down the start-finish straight. Jason Coetzee (Tony Kart) did well to qualify P1, ahead of Dino Stermin (Tony Kart) who makes a welcome return to karting.

Several tenths back, Joseph Ellerine (Tony Kart) and Carlo Olivier (RS) set up their own battle.

Coetzee got the better of Stermin in Race 1 after Olivier kept Stermin at bay for a couple of laps. In pursuit of Coetzee, Stermin broke the lap record with a 40.186s blinder, but it wasn’t enough to catch Coetzee. 

Coetzee led the first couple of laps of Race 2 but then Stermin got in front of him and stayed there, taking victory by just under 3.5s. Race 3 was nowhere near as close, with Stermin taking the win over 11s ahead of Coetzee. 

Overall, this small but quick class saw Stermin on the top step with Coetzee in P2 after a solid battle between the two. Olivier claimed the final podium spot.

WP Clubmans (14th birthday +)

Sean Le Riche (Seleka Racing Kosmic) has put together the return of Clubmans, but his kids showed no mercy in showing him how to drive around Killarney. Kyle (Seleka Racing Kosmic) put his Clubmans setup on pole ahead of Dylan Dawes (CRG) who finally has a class to race in. 

Race 1 was a relatively tame affair out front, won by Kyle Le Riche from his brother Andre (Seleka Racing Arrow). Further back, the unofficial Clubmans Masters fought tooth and nail, possibly injuring their bodies for life in the process. Sean Le Riche emerged victorious ahead of David Walker (Southern Cross Wealth FA) and Guy Lanfear.

Race 2 was another win for Kyle Le Riche, but unfortunately saw the retirement of Walker whose ribs could do no more, leading to a DNS for him in the final race. 

Race 3 was an exciting battle, with plenty of action behind Andre Le Riche who drove away to victory. Although the drivers have considerable differences in their fastest laps, consistency isn’t there which means they all come across each other at one point or another.

Overall, the Le Riche boys took the top spots with Kyle in P1 and Andre in P2. Dawes took a well-deserved podium ahead of Sean Le Riche, Lanfear and Walker.

It’s absolutely brilliant to see that Clubmans is back. Please, if you are thinking of getting back into the sport or have an old machine lying around, come join!

Conclusion

This was a cracking start to the season. Some predictable results were balanced by some surprises. It’s a dynamic sport where drivers get out what they put in. Those who practice hard and drive smart races are inevitably rewarded.

Until the second round of the Championship – practice hard!

Photo credit: Corne van Zyl

Issued on behalf of Western Province Motor Club (WPMC)