After a long break to resurface Killarney karting circuit at the end of 2018, the first few months of 2019 have demonstrated the strength of the Cape Town karting community. Strong grids and frenetic racing were the order of the day in the first two WPMC regional race meetings of the 2019 season.
As you read this though, there is a hush over Killarney karting circuit. The mandatory pre-National closure period is almost finished, as the Rotax National circus rolls into the Mother City this week.
The South African Rotax National Championship is contested over four rounds. The grand prize is the stuff of racing dreams – a ticket to the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals to be held in Italy in October. For many, this is an important milestone for a career in motorsport.
The local hopefuls aiming to participate at the Naples International Circuit in Sarno, Italy, get another bite at the cherry in the Africa Open scheduled for later this year. They will all want to get their National Championship off to the best possible start though to maximise their chances of winning the all-important ticket.
Bambino (5 – 9 Years)
The Bambino class has grown dramatically at regional level and enjoys National status in 2019. The C50 engine may produce less than 3bhp, but these young stars put on incredibly exciting races at speeds that test the nerves of their parents every weekend.
Of the twelve pint-sized racing drivers who will take to the track, only five are Cape Town locals. Troy van der Laan will return to Cape Town feeling confident after taking the win at the WPMC Regional earlier this month. Luan Mostert, Tshepang Shisinwana and Rayan Karriem are the likeliest sources of headaches for van der Laan, although none of the Bambinos should ever be ruled out from finding significant time on the day.
Rotax Micro MAX (7 – 12 Years)
The Micro MAX class looks set to be a crowd favourite this weekend as 14 karts line up for battle.
Will the Reese Koorzen show continue this weekend? The talented young driver has had very little to trouble him thus far in regional racing this season and will certainly look to carry that form into the National Championship where it really counts.
Mohammed Moerat was the closest to Koorzen in the second WPMC Regional, gaining valuable track insight as he visited from the Northern Regions along with a host of other drivers who produced solid midfield results.
Reza Levy has had a challenging start to the year, but certainly has the talent to get back into the fight with Koorzen. He will need to dust himself off from the WPMC Regional races and dig deep to trouble Koorzen and Moerat this weekend.
As with the other classes, one should never count out the drivers leading the midfield pack from finding time behind the leaders and opportunistically overtaking to upset the podium favourites.
Rotax Mini MAX (9 – 13 Years)
Ethan Stier has been the story of the 2019 season thus far, using the experience of his 2018 efforts in Micro MAX to drive to victory in Mini MAX. He withstood the pressure of Northern Regions visitors in the second WPMC Regional to stand on the top step of the podium once more.
Muhammad Wally, 2018 Micro MAX National champion and Africa Open winner, drew blood when he used the WPMC Regional at the beginning of March to scope out the new track surface, taking the win in race 1. Stier will need absolute focus to hold onto the top step of the podium in the National.
The likes of Mikhail Fernandez, Jason MacBeath and Troy Snyman are most likely to keep the Stier-Wally battle honest in what has all the makings of a karting classic.
Rotax Junior MAX (12 – 15 Years)
Kwanda Mokoena, one of the brightest young stars of the sport in South Africa, will get his first taste of the resurfaced Killarney circuit this weekend. Although he was noticeably absent from the WPMC Regional that many other out-of-towners took advantage of a few weeks back, he will no doubt quickly get onto the pace.
Steeling themselves for the onslaught will be the in-form Troy Dolinschek, a rejuvenated Tate Bishop and 2018 Mini MAX national champion Kyle Visser who is quickly adapting to the new class.
Joseph Oelz has followed a Tale of Two Cities approach this year, living in Cape Town but competing in Northern Regions karting. He will also be a force to be reckoned with for the podium.
There is plenty of strength all the way down the 10-kart entry list, split 5-5 across Capetonians and Gautengers. Hold onto your seats!
Rotax Senior MAX (14 Years +)
Wayland Wyman, 2018 Africa Open Senior MAX champion, will arrive in Cape Town brimming with confidence after strong displays at Vereeniging and Zwartkops in the opening rounds of the Northern Regions Championship. Dane van Heerde will bring plenty of Northern Regions heat to the grid alongside Wyman. The two have engaged in titanic battles on the reef in 2019 thus far.
Their Cape Town welcoming committee will be led by 2018 Junior MAX National champion Charl Visser and Kai van Zijl, who has caused a buzz in the pitlane with his pace in 2019. Andrew Rackstraw, Simon Simpson-Heath and Reece Oellerman will fancy themselves to be strong podium competitors too as they prepare for battle on their home circuit.
KZN speedster Shrien Naidoo showed he has Championship-winning pace in the second half of 2018. Rumour has it that he snuck in some track time on the new surface a few weeks back, so expect him to be right on the pace.
The 15-kart field will produce the fastest chain-driven action of the day, with fantastic battles likely to take place all the way down the grid.
Rotax MAX 175 (32 Years + or >85kg in your shorts)
MAX 175 is a new feature for the Rotax National Championship and is already demonstrating its potential. Catering to older or heavier drivers (but often both), the chain-driven class brings some of South African karting’s biggest names to the grid.
Michael Stephen, Nicholas Verheul and Jonathan Pieterse all have multiple years of karting experience in South Africa and internationally. These karting aces will do battle once more at the sharp end of a field that also includes Erwin Sterne, another experienced karter who has represented South Africa at the highest level.
Geoff Stephen will be keen to showcase East London’s abilities in this class, with Jared Jordan the sole Capetonian in the mix.
Rotax DD2 (15 Years +)
The level of talent in this class is frightening. It’s difficult to know where to start, really.
The entry list showcases the likes of Benjamin Habig, an astonishingly consistent DD2 title contender. Nicholas Verheul is doing double duty on the day with a DD2 entry alongside MAX 175, doubling up on his chances of a ticket to Italy. Northern Regions powerhouses Roman de Beer (a former GP3 driver) and Bradley Liebenberg (multiple karting champion and current GTC2 driver) will bring loads of experience and talent to the fight.
Capetonians Jonathan Thomas, Jason Coetzee, Dino Stermin and Sebastian Boyd will be relishing the onslaught of top drivers from across the country.
Among the rest of the 15-kart entry list, Dominic Lincoln graduates from his 2018 Senior MAX championship-winning status into the den of fire that is DD2.
Be prepared – this is the closest and most gladiatorial motorsport you can watch in South Africa.
Rotax DD2 Masters (32 Years + or >85kg in your shorts)
As the Masters examine the ferocious DD2 entry list, many of them will be thankful for the decision by the organisers to run DD2 Masters as a separate class this year. The older (but not necessarily more mature) drivers will need to be at work next week Monday with extremely sore bodies, but this won’t stop them from producing racing of the highest order.
Michael Stephen has won more South African motorsport titles than he cares to count. He is a professional racing driver of the highest pedigree, particularly impressive in touring car formats. With arch-rival Cristiano Morgado absent from the entry list, he will be expected to run away with the race.
Jonathan Pieterse, doing double duty on the day, will be the driver most likely to show a nosecone to Stephen at any stage on the day. Capetonians Conor Hughes and Roy Gruer will fancy themselves for the podium, but will need to fight off a strong entry list of Eastern Cape and Natal drivers.
A karting National is one of the purest and most special motorsport events of them all. The professional racing drivers of the future brush shoulders with household motorsport names in the senior classes.
If you are in Cape Town this weekend and have even a small dose of petrol flowing through your veins, you would be crazy to be anywhere else on Saturday but at Killarney.
Let the games begin…
Issued on behalf of Western Province Motor Club (WPMC)
Picture credit: David Marchio