The most emotional part of the karting season is firmly upon us. With just one round to go, a couple of classes are already theoretically wrapped up. In others, the fight will go down to the very last heat. Champions will be crowned and others will have to keep their chins up ahead of another attempt at the title next year.
Kart setup is always important, but it becomes critical in the changeable conditions that Cape Town is famous for. Warm-up was a humid and cold affair, but by the time race 2 was underway the track was rubbered in and the humidity was gone. As the afternoon winds slowly pick up at this time of year, race 3 always becomes the hardest to choose the right setup for.
It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Jordon Wadeley’s (EMR Kartsport Top Kart) best memory of the day will likely be qualifying. He put his kart on pole 0.169s ahead of Rayan Karriem (Outsourcing Solutions / RK Racing / Intime Aluminium Top Kart). Luan Mostert (Top Kart) and Kai van Rensburg (7 Films Top Kart) qualified P3 and P4 as the only other young racing drivers to break the 1min mark around the 1km circuit.
Race 1 was notable for several reasons.
In a highly unfortunate turn of events, Wadeley suffered a DQ from the Stewards for an on-track incident. They have the unenviable task of assessing racing incidents which occur all the time when karts are so close to each other on track.
As team Wadeley suffered heartbreak, team van Rensburg would’ve been elated with P1. Team Mostert also had something to smile about, as Luan broke the Bambino lap record with a storming 58.770s time. Finally, with van Rensburg P1 and Karriem P2, it was young Nikolas Louw (Breeze Airconditioning and Refrigeration Top Kart) who also surprised with a P3 in Race 1 ahead of Mostert. Did we say non-stop action?
In Race 2, Karriem clearly felt that a lap record would be the cherry on top of his season, so he went out and broke Mostert’s lap record that stood for all of 2 hours with a 58.275s time. Karriem took P1 at the flag, with Mostert just 0.068s behind him. Van Rensburg took P3 and Wadeley P4.
With optimal conditions for the day well and truly behind them for Race 3, Karriem’s new lap record was safe. His flag position wasn’t though, as van Rensburg took the win from Mostert and Karriem. Wadeley sadly retired after 2 laps, classified P9.
On one of the most volatile days in the Bambino class this year, it was van Rensburg who stood on the top step with a brilliant display of racing. Karriem finished P2 and Mostert P3.
Louw won best-of-the-rest with P4 ahead of highly impressive Siyabonga Ntuli (Top Kart) and Michael Danks (Top Kart). P7 and P8 were claimed by racing roses Rebecca Wadeley (EMR Kartsport Top Kart) and Riley Stier (Stier Racing Team Top Kart), with John Norman (Top Kart) classified P9.
Jordon Wadeley experienced what racing is really about – picking yourself up when things go wrong. After qualifying in pole, he was classified P10 for the day. Talent and perseverance will always triumph over adversity and he has both those qualities in abundance.
Championship leader Reza Levy (EMR Kartsport CRG) drew first blood with P1 in qualifying ahead of arch-rival Reese Koorzen (Kosmic) and latest pretender to the throne Joshua Smit (Dart Motors / S&S Racing Kosmic). Ethan Deacon (CRG) managed to keep Jordon Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG) out of the second row.
Race 1 all but secured the championship for Levy. Koorzen and Smit were both disqualified by the Stewards for overtaking under a yellow flag and Levy claimed an invaluable P1 ahead of Deacon and Wadeley.
Race 2 was a complete turnaround, with Koorzen P1 ahead of Smit. Levy finished a lap down in P7 after dropping to the back in the opening exchanges. Deacon quietly went about his business as usual, banking P3 ahead of Wadeley once more.
Koorzen’s heroic fight-back continued in Race 3 with another win. Levy got the better of Smit to take P2. Mr Consistency Deacon took P4 from Wadeley.
After an epic battle all year and only a 3 point difference between Levy and Koorzen going into this race, the current DQ in Race 1 means that Levy took 93 points for the day and Koorzen just 70 points. However, the matter is under appeal, so it is not clear yet what the points position will be going into Round 8.
As things stand, Deacon will be ecstatic with P2 for the day. Wadeley also earned himself something to smile about with P3. Yusuf Parker (Parkers Parts Centre CRG) claimed P4 ahead of Sabelo Ntuli in P5.
Koorzen is currently classified P6 and Smit P7, with Eric Norman (Praga) in P8.
Joaquin de Oliveira (Eastside Cartel Tony Kart) arrived at Killarney hoping to wrap up the Championship, at least on the assumption that there won’t be drama in the final event of the year with disqualifications.
He got off to the right start in qualifying, putting his kart on pole ahead of rival Lucas Royston (Cool Bananas Tony Kart). Lennon managed to outqualify MacBeath for P3.
De Oliveira and Royston swapped places over and over again in the 12 lap thriller that was Race 1. Eventually, de Oliveira built up a lead and took the flag 0.7s ahead of Royston. Smit took P3 after Lennon found himself at the back in lap 4.
De Oliveira and Royston battled again in Race 2, but it was a late-race performance of note from Smit that really spiced things up as he pipped Royston a couple of laps from the end. The flag was waved for another De Oliveira victory ahead of Smit, Royston and MacBeath.
Race 3 was a tamer affair at the top, as Royston drove a lights-to-flag victory and De Oliveira took P2 after getting the better of Smit early on. Smit had a massive fight on his hands at the end of the race for P3, with the wolves snapping at his heels. He traded places with MacBeath and Lennon, eventually getting the better of them.
De Oliveira claimed overall victory for the day with 102 points to Royston’s 97 points in P2. Smit came in P3 and MacBeath P4 ahead of Lennon in P5. Jude Stuart (Zanardi) continues to improve in his rookie season, showing great promise as he claimed P6 ahead of William Marshall (Kosmic).
This was exactly the result team De Oliveira would’ve been hoping for. They have one hand on the Championship trophy going into the final round. It would take a disaster for them in Round 8 not to be crowned champions.
On a day at Killarney that dished up plenty of surprises, Mini MAX didn’t fail to deliver. Ethan Stier (Stier Racing Team / Flatline SA / Tri Brake & Clutch CRG) posted a 45.422s lap time in qualifying, but so did Paul Malcolm (CRG) – literally the identical time to a thousandth of a second.
Jason MacBeath (Kosmic) and Ethan Deacon (CRG) qualified P3 and P4 within two tenths of the pole man. Mischa Williams (Zanardi) and Valentino Hoffman (FA) demonstrated the competitiveness of this class (despite only 6 entrants) by ensuring that only 0.658s separated P1 and P6.
Malcolm had to tussle with Stier before he claimed the win in Race 1, his first of the 2019 season. Deacon was awarded P3 on the timesheets thanks to a 5 second nosecone penalty for MacBeath.
Malcolm led for most of Race 2, nearly making it two in a row before MacBeath and then Stier got the better of him at the death.
Race 3 was a lights-to-flag win for MacBeath with Stier around 5s back in P2. Notably, Hoffman made the most of a mid-race skirmish to claim P3 after Malcolm endured a tough race to only finish in P6. Williams did well to keep Deacon out, finishing P4.
MacBeath desperately needed to close the gap in this round to give himself a fighting chance in the final round of the year. He did just that, securing top step on the podium with 99 points ahead of Stier with 96 points. Stier’s 14 point lead is now 11 points going into the final race.
Malcolm finished P3 overall after a day that he will never forget, ahead of Deacon, Williams and Hoffman.
Troy Dolinschek (Makita Power Tools Kosmic) came into this race needing a strong result to maximise his chances of closing out the Championship in the final round. He got off to the best possible start with a blistering pole time in qualifying, 0.3s ahead of closest rival Tate Bishop (ANGRi Jeep Kosmic) and 0.6s ahead of Kyle Visser (RKT FA).
Race 1 was processional at the front, as Dolinschek, Bishop and Visser finished in that order. In stark contrast, Race 2 had each of these competitors leading at a point in time before Dolinschek once again finished ahead of Bishop and Visser.
Race 3 was a visit to Heartbreak Hotel for Bishop. After a monumental battle against Dolinschek, he found himself leading until the 14th lap where he fell back to P3. Unfortunately, what was likely the end of his Championship fight was confirmed by the Stewards who excluded him from the Race 3 result for overtaking under the yellow flag. This promoted Storm Lanfear (Private Client Financial Kosmic) to P3.
Dolinschek has all but secured his title with a perfect 105 points haul and P1 ahead of Visser and Lanfear. Kyle and Andre Le Riche in their Seleka Racing Kosmics finished P4 and P5 respectively with Thaqib Meyer (Itheko Events Tony Kart) in P6. With no points awarded for Race 3, Bishop finished in P7 with just 64 points, 41 points adrift of Dolinschek.
Unless the DQ card comes out with a vengeance in round eight of the Championship, this one is over.
Charl Visser (RKT FA) was the only driver to break the 42s barrier in qualifying, posting a pole time of 41.965s. The surprise however was Storm Lanfear (Private Client Financial Kosmic) who qualified in a brilliant P2 ahead of Simon Simpson-Heath (MF Consultants Kosmic) in P3.
But what of Kai van Zijl (Unlimited Auto ANGRi) who desperately needed to beat Visser on the day? Qualifying in P4 put him severely on the back foot into Race 1.
Visser was never troubled at the front in Race 1. Lanfear held on to P2 for 10 laps until both Simpson-Heath and van Zijl got the better of him. Crucially for his Championship hopes, van Zijl posted the fastest lap and secured a pole start for Race 2.
Race 2 was a tame affair but important for van Zijl who stayed in front for the entire race. He took the checkered flag from Visser, Lanfear and Simpson-Heath. Visser would start on pole in Race 3.
Visser drove to victory in Race 3 by just 0.4s from van Zijl who fought his hardest after an early battle with Simpson-Heath and Lanfear.
Overall, Visser took the all-important top step on the podium with 102 points ahead of van Zijl with 97 points. Simpson-Heath finished P3 ahead of Lanfear. Newcomer Tristan Reddy drove a solid race to claim P4 ahead of ex-Clubmans driver Dylan Dawes (CRG) who had to retire in Race 3.
With the gap at the top of the Championship now at 15 points going into the final round, all is still to play for.
Without doubt, the story of this class is the huge battle between Dino Stermin (Phoenix Risk Solution Tony Kart) and Jason Coetzee (CRG) for the DD2 Championship.
Feeling left out of the story, Sebastian Boyd (Boyd Boss Freight Kosmic) quite brilliantly took his first Race 1 pole position of the year, with a 40.695s lap time. The other cat among the pigeons was Jonathan Thomas (Partners Hair CRG) who inserted himself neatly between Stermin in P2 and Coetzee who could only manage P4.
Jarryd Evans (DDR Brian Evans Developments) qualified P5 ahead of Waldo de Wet (Kosmic).
Starting in an unfamiliar position, Boyd simply could not hold on in the early stages as Stermin and Thomas got the better of him initially. Thomas suffered a painful mid-race, eventually dropping back to finish P5 behind Stermin, Boyd, Coetzee and Evans.
Race 2 saw cousins Stermin and Boyd sail away into the sunset ahead of Thomas in P3. Coetzee’s nightmare continued with engine issues dropping him all the way down to P6.
The top 4 in DD2 enjoyed a processional final race of the day. Stermin, Boyd, Coetzee and Thomas took the flag ahead of Evans and de Wet.
Overall, Stermin enjoyed yet another 105 points haul ahead of Boyd with 96 points. Critically, Coetzee could only manage 87 points, which means his 21 point Championship lead has dropped to just 3 points going into the final round.
Thomas, Evans and de Wet rounded out the class.
The story of the day was without doubt the debut of Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee Media / Blake Brothers CRG) in DD2 Masters. He has demonstrated exactly how adults can start karting later in life and still make a success of it, coming through the Clubmans and Senior MAX ranks on his way to driving a kart with gears and front brakes.
He left his competitors scratching their heads as he put his CRG on the front row in Masters in qualifying, just over a tenth behind the highly experienced Conor Hughes (Tony Kart). Championship contender Roy Gruer (Tony Kart) could only manage P3.
Just half a second split the remainder of the field, with Marco Viegas (Paper Perfect Tony Kart), Andre Steenkamp (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG), Harry Georgiou (DDR / Carbs and Coffee Media CRG) and Robert Peche (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG) qualifying P4 – P7 respectively.
Race 1 was a DD2 baptism of fire for Thomas who was on the receiving end of a Viegas – Gruer – Georgiou train as Hughes drove away. Thomas managed to take P4 back from Georgiou, as Hughes, Viegas and Gruer took the top 3 positions.
Hughes raced to another victory in Race 2. In a heartbreaking moment for Gruer, his kart gave up on the last lap of the race. Viegas took P2 ahead of Thomas and Georgiou. An unfortunate moment between Peche and Coetzee into Turn 1 gifted P5 to Steenkamp after Peche had managed to chase him down earlier in the race.
Gruer had to fight hard for his victory in Race 3, but he managed to take the Masters flag ahead of Hughes and Thomas who received a highly unfortunate nosecone penalty during a crazy start to the race. This handed P3 to Viegas and demoted Thomas to P4.
Gruer’s 9 point lead has disintegrated to a 2 point deficit, as Hughes took P1 for the day ahead of Viegas and Gruer and the overall lead in the Championship. This has been a thrilling fight all year long that is going down to the wire.
Thomas can be extremely proud with P4 ahead of Georgiou, Steenkamp and Peche.
As this class recovers, Jordan brothers Jared (Jordan Racing CRG) and Michael (Jordan Racing CRG) did their best to put on a show.
Sean Le Riche (Seleka Racing) was well off the pace, but managed to find 3s over the course of the day, breaking the 47s mark by Race 3. As the class grows, he will find himself with far more action to enjoy if he can get into the low 46s.
Michael outqualified Jared strongly, with a gap of almost half a second. He converted this into a win in Race 1, despite Jared taking the lead early on and maintaining it for most of Race 1.
Race 2 and Race 3 would see Jared take the checkered flag from his brother, making it 2-1 and securing the overall win for the day.
Round 7 of the WPMC Karting Championship was a remarkable day of racing. With endless overtaking, a few disqualifications, some qualifying surprises and a number of heroic comebacks, it had all the ingredients that keep the karting faithful coming back for more race after race.
Although a couple of classes are theoretically decided, most of the classes are still wide open. The final round is scheduled for 5th October. The karting odyssey that was the 2019 season will be at its most emotional on that day.
We absolutely cannot wait!
Photo credit: David Marchio (www.davidmarchio.co.za)
Issued on behalf of Western Province Motor Club (WPMC)