South African Cristiano Morgado has won the Masters category of the Rotax Max Challenge World karting championship, the world’s biggest, in the United Arab Emirates... Morgado, aged 32 and from Durban, dominated the week-long meeting in the DD2 Masters category at Al Ain in Abu Dhabi and led from start to finish after setting the pace in all his heats. The event is contested by 60 countries but Morgado’s win was his second Rotax championship win; he took the Senior Max category for South Africa in 2004.'IT SEEMED FOR EVER' “It was a perfect championship,” Morgado said. “I was on the pace right from qualifying and through the heats earlier in the week. I won all my preliminary rounds although the guys were getting closer all week long. “The closing laps of the 21-lap final seemed to take for ever – it was just a case of keeping focused. It was great to come back to karting in 2011 and win another World title.” Another South African to fare brilliantly among the 260 drivers, each a champion in their home country, was Pretoria’s Marc Murray who was fifth in the most competitive and fastest class of all, DD2 Gearbox. After winning preliminary races he was looking good to win in the final but a broken seat mounting took the edge of his pace in the closing stages. He did, however, set the fastest lap of the championship.CRASHES SIDELINED OTHER SAFRICANS The other South African members of the eight-driver team had mixed fortunes. Most unlucky was young Bedfordview driver Aston Hare who was consistently in the top six of the Junior Max category in the elimination rounds but a huge first-lap incident sidelined him from the final.The other South African Junior Max contender, Luke Herring, struggled all week and never found a competitive race set-up. In the Senior Max category, South Africans Chad van Beurden and Ryan Frost were both looking very competitive in practice but both were involved in an accident in the early qualifying heats and never recovered. Van Beurden finished 20th in Max Challenge. Eugene Britz looked promising in the DD2 final after sixth in the semi-final but got tangled in an accident and ended a disappointing 28th. Ian Young, also of South Africa, struggled for early pace during the week; he improved but still finished 21st. A fine performance in the DD2 Masters category was put up by South Africa’s second entrant in this class. John van Wyk, a 47-year-old from Johannesburg who has only been racing for four years. Against much younger drivers, his 18th place was notable.The Rotax series allows only completely standard engines but is by far the most successful karting series in the world. Since its inception in the late 1990’s more than 70 000 Rotax karting engines have been sold world-wide.