Cristiano Morgado of Durban has won the 2012 DD2 Master’s World Karting championship at the Rotax Max Challenge finals in the Algarve, Portugal. Saturday’s (Dec 1, 2012) success was the third World title for Morgado, who became the first karter to score a hat trick of championships in the 13th running of the Rotax series, the most competitive karting championships in the world.RACE-LONG BATTLE Morgado’s win came after a nail-nipping 21-lap final at the impressive Kartodromo in Portimao, one of the world's premier karting circuits. Champions from 60 countries, more than 270 of them, took part in the series with Rotax supplying each entrant with a new kart, engine, tyres, fuel, oil, tools and karting trolley for the event.Parity was paramount. Morgado, 34, was involved in a race-long battle with four karters for the lead in his final.“I guess there were three or even four of us who could have won it," he said. "I'm just thankful that I managed to make the break and keep it together."EIGHT-DRIVER SA TEAMHe won his first Rotax title back in 2003 when he took the World Senior Max title. After a short but impressive career in international single-seaters he returned to karting in 2011 and won that year's World DD2 Masters (for drivers aged 32 years and over) title in the UAE.South African Rotax importer Ed Murray, who accompanied the eight-driver SA team to Portugal, said: “This year Cris used all the experience he has gained over the past decade to win his third title."He knows exactly how to place his kart so he doesn’t get involved in other people’s over-ambitious lunges or excursions."Murray pointed out that the nature of the circuit made it extremely difficult for any driver to make a clean break from the pack. “The long straight favoured a slip-streaming approach, so even if you were quick around the back down the long straight, if there was a bunch of karts close behind, they would catch the leader because of the superior aerodynamic footprint of more than one kart. “Cris in fact first took the lead on lap three but he was passed on numerous occasions and had to fight his way back. In the end he managed to make a break of just a few kart lengths to prevent the chasing bunch coming by the straight.”EARLY DRIVING PENALTYSecond in the DD2 Masters category was Scott Campbell of Canada, followed a few hundredths of a second later by David Griffiths of the UK and Goncalo Gavial from Portugal.Morgado’s winning margin was less than two seconds. The other seven South African team drivers acquitted themselves admirably in their respective categories. Best was Luca Canderle, ninth in the DD2 class, having started at the back of the grid for his final because of a driving penalty in an earlier heat. In the Junior Max category, Eugene Denyssen did very well with 13th overall, with fellow South African Raoul Hyman (now based in Europe) 17th. In the Senior Max category, Chad MacIver finished 31st.OTHERS SHONEOther South Africans who shone but were unable to make the finals for various reasons included Mitchell Licen, Nicholas Verheul, Bradley Liebenberg and John van Wyk. “All our drivers did exceptionally well,” said Ed Murray. “People only tend to notice the winners but when you consider that just to qualify you have to have won a championship in your home country you may get an idea of how competitive this series is.“It’s a matter of focus, intense concentration on the goal for five days in every move you make, be it in kart preparation, set-up or driving, and also driving to keep out of trouble. “All our drivers were very close to being right on the winning pace and I’m sure our first-timers learned a lot which will stand them in good stead.” *Murray also noted the running at the championship of a Portuguese field of the new Micro Max karts for very young drivers showed great possibilities. Rotax supplied more than 270 new karts, engines, tyres, tools and kart trolleys to all the finalists to ensure equipment parity.