SA'S KARTING FUTURE: Wheels24 interviewed Cape Town go-kart racer Thaqib Meyer. The 11-year-old has dreams of one day competing in F1. Image: News24
Cape Town - Many of the world’s greatest racing drivers started their careers on go-kart tracks. Formula 1 champions Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and the great Michael Schumacher all started in karting.
Many people are not aware, but South Africa boasts the most world karting champions: 14 drivers have brought home the winning title. These include Toyota's rally and off-road driver Leeroy Poulter and current rally champion Mark Cronje.
The next-generation of drivers are laying down rubber as they look to continue carrying the country’s karting flag.
One youngster flying the local motorsport flag is 11-year-old Thaqib Meyer from Athlone, Cape Town. Wheels24 met the young racer, who’s enthusiasm for racing can best be described as infectious.
Wheels24 got to grips with the Islamia learner at Killarney’s karting circuit to find out if he could become the next Lewis Hamilton.
Regional racing competitor
Despite being 11-years-old, Thaqib has already been racing for four years; two years in a smaller "baby kart" and since 2013 has graduated to the current Maxterino 60cc class used by the Western Cape Motor Club.
The 60cc class is aimed at primary school pupils (aged from 8 to 13) and runs the full karting track. According to the WCMC, this class aims to hone drivers and deliver incredible racing between the youngsters.
Thaqib is a friendly, talkative boy who enjoyed telling us that go-karting is not the only sport he enjoys; the Grade 5 student regularly runs 5km races and lists soccer as one of his favourite sports.
His father Faheem Meyer, a former Clubmans Masters champion introduced his son to the sport in 2011 and says karting is a good starting point for a career in F1 and any driving discipline: "I think to start with karting definitely is the best platform for any form of motorsport.”
Watch: Cape Town kid be SA's next Formula 1 star?
When asked who his role models are, the youngster says: “(Lewis) Hamilton and Jenson Button."
Karting a good entry-level form of motorsport
Faheem says that karting is an excellent feeder into the upper echelons of racing as youngsters learn how to control a car in different conditions. Thaqib says he took over the mantle from his mother, who was pregnant with his sister when she last raced.
His father talks excitedly about a YouTube video he showed Thaqib of Hamilton winning a karting race from the back of the grid. It's a similar determination and consistency he sees in his son.
The WPCM said the "maxterino is a very competitive class. With three Capetonian drivers placed in the top six places in the national championship. It is always a very exciting race to watch and we have great future stars there."
The enthusiastic youngster hopes of breaking into the national arena in 2016. With two events remaining in the 2015 season, Meyer is hoping to move into the top half of the standings and focus on making his national debut in 2016.
Faheem, who funds his son's racing career, admitted that sponsorship is difficult to obtain: "We'd love to do the nationals (circuit) in his class hopefully in 2016, if all goes well and I get more sponsors on board.
"From there onward, he can go all over the world. The world karting championships are coming up soon and hopefully this time next year he'll be overseas."
Watch: 11-year-old racer takes on former champ...his dad
Could your child be the next Giniel de Villies? Are you an aspiring SA motorsport star? Email us.
Salome: "Thanks for this article – I was so inspired by this as my 13-year-old son Sergio is definitely in this league if not higher. I would like to test his ability on the track and just didn’t know who I can contact. We’ve tested his skill many times on the tracks and he’s beaten me & his dad over and over again.
"And trust me I’m not in the Miss Daisy class at all. He is in a league of his own. I wasn’t sure if there’s a level he should be at before he could join a club but now you’ve given me hope. I’ll definitely be calling the club."