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Preview: 2018 Rotax South African National Karting Championship - Round 2

2018-04-23 14:41

Image: Motorpress

Johannesburg - A quick read of the Rotax SA National Karting Championship points logs gives only a vague idea as to the kind of form expected at Round Two, when all six classes of the Rotax series do battle in the Vaal Triangle, at the Laserfiche Raceway located alongside the old Vereeniging Showgrounds on April 29.

Changeable conditions from wet to dry and back again at Idube in late March for the first round meant that a couple of highly-fancied drivers lost out, due to making the wrong call on set-up and tyres. The recent Regional held at Vereeniging is probably a more accurate guide to current form, as many drivers from KZN and the Western Cape made the trip up to dial their karts in for 2018’s second National.

Record breaking

But there were also some significant names missing from the entry list that could change the whole picture, come the last Sunday in April.

In the fastest karting class in South Africa, the DD2 two-speed gearbox class is expected to break all entry records for a national in many a year. An impressive 32 drivers started at Idube, and there could be more in the Vaal Triangle!

Port Elizabeth’s Michael Stephen leads the charge on 97 points, followed by Vereeniging’s Arnold Neveling on 94, KZN’s Cristiano Morgado on 93, Ben Habig from KZN on 90, reigning DD2 champ Bradley Liebenberg from Lonehill on 79, and Western Province’s Jurie Swart on 78.

                                                                         Image: Motorpress

The Vereeniging regional two weeks before Round Two saw local ace Arnold Neveling set the pace in all three races, shadowed by Liebenberg. However Neveling picked up two five-second nose-cone penalties in the first two races which saw him drop to second for the day behind Liebenberg. Other quick drivers to take note of were the Cape duo, Jurie Swart and Jason Coetzee.

Don’t discount Habig, Justin Allison from Bloemfontein, Jordan North from Northcliff and Cape Town’s Luke Herring from making a big impression on April 29. And veteran racer Michael Stephen, a multiple production car, GTC and karting champion, will always be in there, as will KZN’s multiple World DD2 Masters champion Cris Morgado, and possibly Rotax series newcomer Simon Moss from PE, who was notably quick in the dry at Idube.

In the DD2 Masters class for drivers aged 32 and over, Michael Stephen leads the points chase from Morgado, Brett Brito from Eastern Province, KZN’s Simon Wilde and Jonathan Pieterse. An impressive Masters driver at the recent regional was Gauteng’s Richard Fuller.

Senior Max

The Senior Max class for drivers aged 14 and over drew a strong entry for the Vereeniging regional of 14 karts, and bodes well for the April 29 National. At Round One KZN’s Jonathan Pieterse was on good form to win, and currently heads the points table on 93, ahead of the ever-impressive Jason Coetzee (running two classes this year) on 90, followed Cris Morgado (another driver doing both DD2 and non-gearbox Senior Max) and KZN’s Dane van Heerde.

Jason Coetzee was the fastest Regional qualifier at Vereeniging , and the impressive Wayland Wyman was next up, followed by KZN’s Dominic Lincoln, Liam Pienaar and Joshua Dias, all within a tenth of a second d of the pole man. Coetzee, Wyman and Pienaar each took a race win at Vereeniging on April 14.

Junior max

Junior Max, the class for drivers aged 12-15, has been the second-most impressive class this year in terms of entries. No less than 23 drivers scored points at Idube at the end of March, and the recent Vereeniging regional showed that competition for Round Two will be as fierce as ever!

Current championship leader is Jarrod Waberski on 95 points, after a very big karting effort this year, followed by the focused Charl Visser from Durbanville on 93. Gauteng’s Aqil Alibhai lies third on 79, followed by Western Province’s Tate Bishop (77)and Gauteng’s Daniele Patrizi (73).

                                                                       Image: Motorpress

Patrizi won the overall day’s event at the recent regional, and other drivers who showed well included Cape Town’s Joseph Oelz, a good bet for Round Two honours, Jayden Els (who won the final race of the day at the recent Regional) Zaeem Goolam, who scored a second place race finish, and Cape Town’s Simon Simpson-Heath.

Mini max

Mini Max is a class that came good at Vereeniging, for drivers aged 9-13, at the Regional on April 14. There were 15 starters at the Laserfiche Raceway and with more drivers expected to travel from far-flung regions for the more important Round Two National , entries could approach the 20 mark!

Currently, after the unpredictable first round, the 2018 Championship is led by Cape Town’s Mikhail Fernandez on 95 points, followed by very quick KZN driver Liam de Beer on 93. Josh le Roux from Gauteng is third on 91, fourth is WP’s Joaquin de Oliveira on 87, fifth is Gauteng’s Joshua de Paiva, while Reece Fuller (Gauteng) is sixth on 80 points.

Proving that his win in KZN was no fluke, Fernandez also won the recent Regional at Vereeniging, followed home by fellow WP driver Kyle Visser.

Micro Max, for drivers aged 7-11, has had a fantastic start to the season, with 17 karters scoring championship points at Idube. Leading the charge going to Vereeniging is young Joshua de Paiva, who was the only driver to really dominate in Round One. He arrives at Vereeniging with a full house score of 105 points

Chasing De Paiva on April 29 will be a full time job, as he proved at the recent regional that he is quick in the Vaal Triangle too, taking two wins there, before getting involved in a tangle in Race Three.

Points

In the points table, second place is currently held by Reza Levy from the famous Cape Town-based Levy racing family, on 88, with KZN’s Troy Snyman, also with 88 points! Bjorn Bertholdt from Gauteng is fourth on 83 points, followed by two KZN aces, Dhiyven Naidoo (81) and Rayn Asmal(76).

Mohammed Moerat, a talented junior driver, missed the opening National, but won the April 14 regional overall at Vereeniging, so he should be strong for Round Two. Also quick was Muhammed Wally (the current Micro Max champion) and Luviwe Sambudla, who scored two impressive second places last time out in the Vaal area. Another name to watch is Gauteng’s KC Ensor-Smith, who unfortunately had a torrid weekend at Idube, but showed well at Vereeniging.


                                                                    Image: Motorpress

Practise for Round Two of the 2018 Rotax South African Karting Championship is on Friday, April 27th, at the Laserfiche Raceway, Vereeniging, with qualifying on Saturday, April 28. Racing for Round Two of the Four Round National series is on Sunday, April 29. The race will be filmed, and available for viewing on YouTube later in the week after the race.

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