In any sporting discipline, there’s something particularly special about seeing the best of the best from across South Africa battle it out. National karting events are no different, as the regional competitors of the host city welcome primarily the top drivers from other regions.
Importantly, it’s not just the best drivers who travel. Anyone is welcome to compete in nationals away from home. It just works out that the most serious racers make the trips around the country and inevitably end up as front-running drivers because of the additional experience and practice. It’s always great seeing a relative newbie pack the kart on the trailer and go on a national adventure.
This year, the Carbs and Coffee duo are taking very different approaches to racing. While Andrew Thomas is competing in Rotax DD2 Masters again, Rob Peché is having to take a break from the sport for a year to prioritise personal matters. Of course, we are both there at every race day, even though only one of us pulls the visor down to go racing.
While walking around the pits and soaking up the atmosphere (the joy of being a “mechanic” rather than a driver), it becomes apparent that karting is the ultimate form of family motorsport. Most teams consist of kids and their parents. In the adult classes, the drivers are supported by their spouses, kids or even elderly parents.
In fact, one of our favourite sights in the pits are the grey-haired figures spannering on their adult son’s or grandson’s kart. Father and son, sharing their adult lives together in the spirit of competition. It’s beautiful to see. And in case you’re wondering – yes, there are moms who certainly know where to find the 10mm socket and there are girls racing too! It’s brilliant.
Special mention must go to the Beaumont family, where dad Steve manages to keep his kids on the circuit and himself in DD2 Masters. It’s a remarkable effort, only made possible through incredible family teamwork and an endless amount of enthusiasm for the sport. His kids are quicker than he is, which he isn’t complaining about.
The amphitheatre feeling of the circuit helps families support their loved ones while racing. From various spots on the track, you can watch 80% of the action. On main circuit, you can see maybe 30% of the circuit at best.
The energy on the grandstand shows how much passion goes into this sport. Screaming and cheering is the order of the day, especially while the Bambinos are on track. There’s nothing quite like watching your little racer fight it out at 80km/h when the average kid that age doesn’t even know how to read yet.
Yet another benefit of karting is the cost. You can’t really compare karting to GTI Challenge on Killarney main circuit because you can’t do national racing in your Class C Golf. The fair comparison is to national main circuit classes, in which case karting is comfortably the cheapest form of racing to be reasonably competitive in.
For example, an entire regional season of DD2 will cost the same as just one national main circuit race in certain classes. We’ve spoken to more than enough racing drivers to feel confident of this view.
If you raced this weekend at Killarney, you were in a field that included several international karting stars. With Michael Stephen at the front of DD2 Masters, you’re on the same circuit and in the same machinery as one of the best touring car drivers this country has ever produced.
Best of all, he races with a massive smile on his face and a willingness to show you the data from his Mychron and give you suggestions on how to go faster. Nobody in Polo Cup is about to willingly give you their secrets to success, that’s for sure.
It’s particularly pleasing to see the strength of the field at the most junior and senior levels. The best time to start karting is always “right now” – whether you are considering the sport for your kids or finally realising your dream as an adult to get into competitive motorsport.
The strength of Western Province karting also shone through at this event. Although it was a home event for the Cape’s drivers, the locals took top honours in four out of seven classes. Notably, it was a clean sweep on the podium for the locals in Senior MAX and DD2.
As a closing comment, we must highlight that the DD2 Masters podium was graced by three drivers who have all competed at the sharp end of the international Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals – essentially the Olympics of Rotax karting.
Our talent pool in local karting runs deep.
So, with the first National of the year concluded, we congratulate the top 3 in each class:
Bambinos (14 competitors)
- Jack Moore
- Michael Danks
- Logan Billau
Micro MAX (18 competitors)
- Reagile Mailula
- Mattao Mason
- Kegan Martin
Mini MAX (14 competitors)
- Joaquin de Oliveira
- Wian Boshoff
- Caleb Odendaal
Junior MAX (7 competitors)
- Reza Levy
- Muhammed Wally
- Ethan Stier
Senior MAX (10 competitors)
- Andrew Rackstraw
- Tate Bishop
- Storm Lanfear
DD2 (12 competitors)
- Sebastian Boyd
- Jason Coetzee
- Jurie “Umpie” Swart
DD2 Masters (16 competitors)
- Michael Stephen
- Nicholas Verheul
- Jonathan Pieterse
With thanks to Carbs and Coffee resident photographer Corné van Zyl, who also writes the Shutter Speed column for us, for the on-track action shots.