The structure of the condensed National season this year resulted in an unfortunate situation where many National competitors elected not to travel to Cape Town for the final round of the season at Killarney.
In some cases, like DD2 Masters, the Championship was wrapped up already. The best ten heats count for the Championship and there were four heats at iDube and six at Zwartkops. For a guy like Nic Verheul, he was so dominant at iDube and Zwartkops that nobody could catch him at Killarney. To his absolute credit, he still presented himself for duty at the final round this weekend.
Most of the other classes were still up for grabs going into this weekend, with particularly fierce battles in a class like Micro MAX.
A total of 78 entries is 30% or so down from where we want to be, but when one considers the logistical and economic backdrop to this event, we are thankful that there was still a strong turnout for the race.
This round doubled up as the final National round as well as the 5th Regional round. There were some unsavoury outcomes where Regional competitors tangled with National visitors, with ramifications beyond just the National championship.
As we often say: that’s racing.
Track conditions were ridiculously fast. Lap records were beaten and numerous competitors achieved personal best lap times. Some can’t feel a difference with the new D5 tyres, while others have noted significantly more grip.
With cool horsepower-inducing weather on Saturday combined with excellent grip levels on track, the racing was competitive and exciting.
Even qualifying was far more exciting than usual, following the National format of each competitor having just two flying laps to put down the best possible time. This shootout format really mixes up the order and is a true test of single lap pace. It would be great to see this format being adopted for regional racing.
Carbs and Coffee top tip: if you’re having a young boy soon and hope to raise a karting champion, consider naming him Caleb.
Bambino (5th – 9th birthday)
16 Bambinos presented themselves for a racing extravaganza this weekend, but Santiago Frade’s team must win best-dressed. The team gear was right up there with the best of a Rio Carnival – awesome to see!
Caleb Moss was dominant in qualifying, half a second quicker than Manelisi Nkomo and Jack Moore. Mattao Mason, tied with Caleb Moss at the top of the National Championship going into this race, only qualified midfield.
In Race 1 it was Moore who took the flag ahead of Frade and Moss. Local speedster Aiden Beaumont managed P4 ahead of MJ Thekiso, Rafael da Silva and Mattao Mason. Top local driver Kai van Rensburg, returning to the sport after a really tough accident at the last Regional, managed P8.
Race 2 was a combination of elation and frustration for Frade. He put down the quickest lap of the heat in just the second lap of the race, but retired the kart after just one more lap. That left Moore to take the win just a tenth of a second ahead of da Silva. Moss took P3 while Mason could only manage P7.
Clearly Mason’s team made the right decision over the lunch break, whether regarding food, setup or a combination of the two. In race 3, the young star broke the lap record with a blistering 57.202s. That’s an average speed of over 64km/h…for a kid whose peer group is still learning how to read!
However, despite that pace, Mason had to settle for P5 at the flag in Race 3. The heat was won by da Silva, followed by Thekiso, Frade and Moore. Moss could only get P9 in this heat, giving Team Mason something to get excited about going into the final heat of the day.
In the final race of the day and of the National Championship, it was Thekiso who took victory ahead of Moore, da Silva, Moss and Beaumont. Nkomo came home in P6 and Mason in P7.
Moore stood on the top step of the podium for the day, taking victory in a hotly-contested National. Da Silva and Thekiso both ended on 124 points, with Da Silva being classified P2 thanks to his victory in the third heat.
It wasn’t the best day for the Championship leaders going into this race, with Moss in P4 on 113 points and Mason in P5 on 106 points.
The remaining spots were claimed by Santiago in P6 who certainly had the pace to finish on the podium with better luck, van Rensburg P7, Nkomo P8, Beaumont P9, Christian Verheul P10 and Maddox Mason P11.
The provisional Bambino National Champion is Caleb Moss, finishing on 347 points overall. Thekiso’s excellent performance in this round elevated him to P2 on 338 points, with Da Silva taking P3 in the Championship on 332.5 points. Moore, Mason and Beaumont rounded out the top 6.
The Regional Championship classification saw van Rensburg take top spot with 134 points, a helpful differential to the 128 points of Aiden Beaumont in P2. Siyabonga Ntuli took P3 ahead of Sebastiano Human, John Norman, Liam Wharton and Michael Danks.
ROTAX Micro MAX (7th – 12th birthday)
Micro MAX was bonkers, like it always is. The Championship fight went down to the wire.
Local talent Reese Koorzen (Zenkor Engineering) knew he needed to be on pace throughout the weekend to secure the Championship ahead of Caleb Odendaal (Parolin). Koorzen got off to the right start, taking pole position in qualifying by a tenth from Mohammed Moerat and Keagan Beaumont (Strive Praga), with Moss in P4.
Koorzen converted pole into a win in Race 1, with the top four surprisingly finishing in the same order they qualified in (this almost never happens in the younger classes). Critically, Koorzen’s best time was slower than the three drivers who finished behind him, turning things on their head for Race 2.
Race 2 saw many nose cone penalties towards the back of the field, but it also saw the lap record being smashed by Reese Koorzen with a 45.680s monster of a lap. Moerat took the all-important win though, with Koorzen elevating himself from P4 at the start to P2 at the flag. Beaumont came home in P3, local boy Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic) in P4 and Odendaal in P5.
Race 3 was Koorzen’s second win for the day, this time with Odendaal just behind him (literally). Smit took P3 ahead of Moerat. Beaumont and Jordon Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG).
Race 4 would prove to be historic in South African karting, as it saw the provisional crowning of a champion who by all accounts looked to be out of the Championship fight. A nosecone penalty relegated Koorzen to P4 after an incredible fight to the end, leaving Odendaal classified in P1, Moerat in P2 and Wadeley P3.
Koorzen took the overall win for the day for the National and Regional Championships. Moerat and Odendaal rounded out the National podium ahead of Beaumont, Smit and Wadeley.
Once all the drops were calculated though, it wasn’t enough for Koorzen. In a cruel twist of fate for Team Koorzen and an incredible joy for Team Odendaal, Caleb Odendaal was crowned provisional champion by just one point from the young Capetonian. It was a brilliant display of driving by both, eventually separated by a nosecone penalty for Koorzen in the final heat that broke hearts after he crossed the finish line believing he was Champion.
Moerat was P3 overall in the National Championship with Regile Mailula, Beaumont and Smit rounding out the top 6.
It won’t feel like much of a consolation for Koorzen, but he extended his lead in the Regional Championship significantly from Beaumont, Smit, Wadeley, Sabelo Ntuli (Gingerroot Kosmic), Dale Hobbs (BirelART) and Eric Norman (Body Elite Praga).
Rotax Mini MAX (9th – 14th birthday)
There are title fights and then there are pace fights. Competitors don’t always do a full season for whatever reason, but do their local races and show the National Champion a thing or two along the way.
That’s exactly what happened in Mini MAX as well as two other classes. Ghazi Motlekar arrived at Killarney with the title practically secured, but Joaquin de Oliveira (Parolin) arrived at his home track with every intention of taking a clean sweep of victories.
It’s rare to see a driver in a different postal code to the rest of the field at this level, but de Oliveira is a special talent.
Qualifying was as close as it can mathematically get, with de Oliveira taking pole by one thousandth of a second from top KZN driver Troy Snyman. Local competitor Reza Levy (EMR Kartsport CRG) qualified P3 and Motlekar P4.
In Race 1, we saw the extraordinary outcome of de Oliveira and Snyman once again being separated by one thousandth of a second in terms of best lap. De Oliveira’s 44.024s broke the lap record.
The gap at the flag was a different story: de Oliveira took the flag by over 3 seconds from Snyman. Levy came home in P3 and Erich Heystek in P4. Motlekar suffered a DNF.
De Oliveira got the hammer down even harder in Race 2, breaking his record again with a 43.994s lap time, nearly two tenths quicker than Snyman. He took the win, once again from Snyman, Levy and Heystek.
You may feel like you’re suffering from deja vous as you read this, but Race 3 was another de Oliveira victory from Snyman and Levy. This time though, local boy Ethan Deacon managed to take P4.
Race 4 was another de Oliveira victory and yet another lap record: 43.906s. He broke the record three times in one day. Snyman, Levy and Heystek once again followed him to the flag.
De Oliveira took a perfect 140 points haul for the day, something you won’t see very often. Snyman finished P2, Levy P3, Heystek P4, Ntiyiso Mabunda P5, Deacon P6, Mahlori Mabunda P7, Georgia Lenaerts P8 and Ghazi Motlekar P9.
Motlekar didn’t need any of these heats towards his National title, but will definitely have questions around his run of form around Killarney. Nevertheless, he drops these heats and was provisionally crowned SA Champion after a clean sweep of wins at iDube and a great follow-up performance at Zwartkops. Snyman finishes the year P2 and KC Ensor-Smith P3. Levy, Heystek and Luviwe Sambudla round out the top 6.
They will all be thankful that de Oliveira missed the Zwartkops race, because one wonders what the Championship might have looked like if he had been in attendance in Gauteng that weekend.
Regionally, de Oliveira obviously took top spot ahead of Levy, Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic), Deacon, Jude Stuart (Tony Kart) and Eric Norman.
Junior MAX (12th – 16th birthday)
Troy Dolinschek (CRG) could probably draw Killarney on a piece of paper in his sleep, pointing out every bump or slight undulation in the track. He’s an incredibly talented driver who is preparing for a jump to main circuit in F1600, but not before he gave the karting community another show of force.
Muhammad Wally arrived at Killarney needing to simply circulate to secure the title. Of course, the thought of a battle with Dolinschek was irresistible. We really must mention that Dolinschek’s father’s name is Wally Dolinschek, a spectacular coincidence if ever we’ve seen one.
In qualifying, the only two men under 42s were Dolinschek and Wally. Troy Snyman qualified P3 and Ethan Stier (OTK) P4. The other podium contender for the National Championship, Dhivyen Naidoo, struggled in qualifying with only a P11 grid position for Race 1.
In Race 1, Dolinschek converted pole position to a win at the flag, 2.7s ahead of Wally who did manage to post a faster lap, securing the front spot for Race 2. Snyman came home in P3 ahead of Stier and Kyle Visser. Naidoo managed P7 and was still off the pace.
Race 2 was a similar affair, as Dolinschek’s racecraft scored him the win while Wally finished in P2 but with the fastest lap. Snyman and Stier were once again P3 and P4 respectively, with Le Riche brothers Andre (Seleka Racing Kosmic) and Kyle (Seleka Racing Kosmic) best of the rest.
Race 3 showed that karting can sometimes be predictable, with the now-familiar finishing order of Dolinschek, Wally, Snyman and Stier playing out once more.
The final race of the day was another 1-2-3 for Dolinschek, Wally and Snyman, this time with Visser crossing the line in P4 ahead of Andre Le Riche and Stier. Naidoo just couldn’t get himself out of the midpack, finishing P7 once again.
Overall, Dolinschek took a perfect score of 140 points. Wally and Snyman joined him on the podium in P2 and P3 respectively, while Stier, Andre Le Riche and Naidoo completed the top 6.
Kyle Le Riche, Kian Grottis, Matthew Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG), Juandre Nel and Olerato Sekudu claimed the remaining places in the National classification for the day.
The National Junior MAX Champion is Wally, with Snyman elevating himself to a P2 finish after an excellent run at Killarney. Naidoo had enough flexibility with his drops to hang on to P3 by just half a point from Stier in P4. Tyler Robinson (who missed Killarney) ended P5 and Grottis did well to take P6 in the overall Championship after a strong showing at Killarney.
Dolinschek and Stier haven’t done a full Regional season in Junior MAX, so the significant result from a Regional perspective is that Visser has extended his lead in the Championship ahead of Andre Le Riche, Kyle Le Riche and Wadeley. However, should Dolinschek elect to finish the season, Visser will have a serious fight on his hands for the Regional top step at the end of the year.
Senior MAX (14th birthday +)
Welcome to the WPMC show aka Senior MAX. The class is absolutely dominated by Killarney-based competitors.
Tate Bishop (ANGRi Jeep Kosmic) shocked precisely nobody when he put his beautiful kart on pole. Birthday boy and talented Capetonian F1600 racer Andrew Rackstraw (CRG) was thrilled to qualify P2, not least of all since he was nursing a broken rib! Jason Coetzee (Kosmic) qualified P3 with Shrien Naidoo and Storm Lanfear (Private Client Financial Kosmic) also on the pace.
The big surprise was Charl Visser (Charl Engineering Tony Kart) who didn’t set a qualifying time, putting him right at the back for Race 1 behind Dane van Heerde and Daniela Marzoppi.
The pace in this class was mental. In Race 1, Visser made up for qualifying by breaking the lap record with a 40.630s stunner. No fewer than 5 other drivers were within three tenths of this time! Emerging victorious from this pack of wolves was Bishop, followed by Visser, Rackstraw, Coetzee, Naidoo and Lanfear.
Visser converted that pole position into an excellent win in Race 2, seeing off Bishop, Rackstraw, Lanfear, Naidoo, Coetzee and van Heerde who now joined the rest of the pack on pace, putting 7 drivers within a couple of tenths of each other. Spare a thought for Marzoppi who posted absolutely respectable times but still had a solo day at the back.
Race 3 brought the third different winner for the day, with Naidoo taking top honours ahead of Bishop and Visser. Lanfear came home in P4 ahead of Rackstraw, van Heerde and Coetzee who suffered a painful 5s nosecone penalty.
Visser and Rackstraw kept him honest until the end, but Bishop took the win in Race 4 and therefore the overall win for the day with 134 points. Visser finished in P2 with 129 points, while Naidoo joined the podium on 120 points.
Rackstraw, Lanfear, Coetzee, van Heerde and Marzoppi claimed the remaining spots in one of the toughest classes on the day.
As the curtain came down on 2020, karting sensation Tate Bishop was provisionally crowned National Champion and such a deserving one at that. He finished 15 points ahead of closest rival Charl Visser, winning the Senior MAX Championship in his first year since stepping up from Junior MAX.
Naidoo finished P3 behind Visser, with van Heerde and Coetzee finishing the year P4 and P5.
From a Regional perspective, Bishop opened up the gap to Coetzee, who likely now finds himself behind P2 man Visser as well in the local standings. Rackstraw took the third podium spot for the day ahead of Lanfear and Coetzee.
DD2 (15th birthday +) and DD2 Masters (32nd birthday + / 85kgs driver)
Something happened in DD2 qualifying that we haven’t seen before and which probably won’t be repeated for a while: a driver broke below 40s.
Jurie “Umpie” Swart (Kosmic) carries a fearsome reputation at Killarney and the Polo Cup driver reminded everyone of that fact with a blistering 39.893s in qualifying, leaving the rest of the front pack scratching their heads. It doesn’t count as an official lap record because the record must be broken in a race, not in qualifying.
Sebastian Boyd (Boyd Boss Freight BirelART) needed to drive a smart race rather than put it all on the line for the win, so he secured P2 in qualifying ahead of Jason Coetzee (Kosmic) and Robert Whiting.
In the Masters, Nicholas Verheul (CRG) took pole with 40.805s, a few hundredths ahead of local duo Jason Greyling (Nigma Media CRG) and Conor Hughes (Natasha Hughes Tony Kart).
Race 1 was a win for Swart, but Boyd made him work for it with a 0.1s gap at the flag. Whiting finished a couple of seconds back but broke the DD2 lap record (40.280s) while Coetzee came home in P4.
In Masters, Verheul was also in record-breaking mode (40.724s), but Hughes pulled off a terrific race to cross the line ahead of Verheul, only the second man to do so this year. A nosecone penalty relegated Verheul to P3 behind Greyling. Unfortunately the day was over for Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee Media / Blake Brothers CRG) almost as quickly as it had begun, as a tangle with another kart left him with a wheel pointing 45 degrees into the sky and a destroyed frame.
Race 2 was a terrific win for Coetzee ahead of Boyd and Whiting, serving as an excellent reminder of what the fittest driver in Cape Town is capable of. Swart put in the fastest lap but only finished P8. Masters was a win for Verheul ahead of Hughes and Roy Gruer (Tony Kart).
In Race 3, Swart returned to form and crossed the line in P1. Boyd came home in P2 (and broke the lap record with a 42.219s masterclass), seeing off Coetzee and Whiting. Verheul was the predictable winner in Masters, with Greyling coming home in P2 ahead of Hughes and Gruer.
Swart took the win in the final race of the day, while Boyd brought it home in P2 and did exactly what he needed to do to secure the title ahead of Whiting. Verheul led Greyling and Hughes over the line in Masters, ahead of Gruer and Rob Peche (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG) who had an entertaining battle with Michael Jordan (Jordan Racing CRG) in the DD2 class.
Overall, Swart took the win for the day but it was Boyd with the biggest smile: P2 for the day and provisionally crowned as South African DD2 Champion for 2020. Coetzee managed P3 for the day while Whiting had to settle for P4. Leaving aside the Masters who are technically classified as part of DD2 before being scored separately as their own class, Michael Jordan finished P5 in DD2 and Morne Janse van Rensburg P6.
In Masters, Verheul took P1 for the day in a fitting end to a Championship that saw him provisionally crowned South Africa’s DD2 Masters Champion. Hughes came home in P2 ahead of Greyling, which is important for the Regional Championship. Gruer finished P4, Jared Jordan (Jordan Racing CRG) P5 and Peche in P6.
Andre Steenkamp made a welcome return to racing and was right on the pace, but finished P7 for the day. Thomas was classified P8 after only being able to run for a few laps on the day.
That’s it for the Rotax 2020 National season.
The Bambinos are too little to go racing internationally, so the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals run from Micro MAX upwards.
Subject to ratification by MSA, South Africa will be represented at the world finals in Portimao by Caleb Odendaal (Micro MAX), Ghazi Motlekar (Mini MAX), Muhammad Wally (Junior MAX), Tate Bishop (Senior MAX), Sebastian Boyd (DD2), Robert Whiting (DD2) and Nicholas Verheul (DD2 Masters). They will be joined by the relevant winners from the upcoming Rotax Africa Open, where once-off winners take the final places to the Grand Finals.
The WPMC Regional Championship is far from wrapped up. The locals still have much to fight for in the remaining rounds.
Photo credit: David Marchio (www.davidmarchio.co.za)
Issued on behalf of Western Province Motor Club (WPMC)