Motorsport SA (MSA) takes note of the social media announcement that the Southern African Rotax Max Challenge (SARMC) karting series will no longer run under the auspices of MSA from 2021.
This decision by the promoters of this Rotax series to withdraw from MSA is disappointing given the considerable work undertaken by MSA’s Karting Working Group (KWG) since late-2019 to address the rising costs in the sport while maintaining South Africa’s history of high standards of competitiveness. The KWG was also tasked with finding ways to lessen the load on officials while ensuring operating standards, and to instill a fresh ethos among competitors. Over the past few years, karting has increasingly been tarnished with heated off-track exchanges leading in instances to litigation.
This review by the KWG gained new urgency with the unexpected advent of Covid-19 and the associated negative economic effects of the accompanying lockdown.
These aims were in line with the overall goal of MSA. Established in 1995, MSA is the national motorsport regulatory body. Through its international affiliations to the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) - and, by extension, the CIK-FIA (Commission Internationale de Karting – as well as the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme), MSA aims to promote motorsport through improving safety, ensuring fairness, and creating the conditions for reasonable affordability and accessibility. In line with its affiliation to the mentioned international bodies, MSA is also responsible for issuing international competition licences for participation in events runs under the auspices of said bodies. By virtue of its affiliation also to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), MSA recommends national colours awards. As part of its safety mandate, MSA facilitates insurance to events, tracks, officials and competitors alike, and issues annual motorsport licences to some 7,000 individuals.
The findings of the KWG can be summed up as the consolidation of 11 separate national karting championship races into nine; and the halving of the number of national championship events from eight to four weekends which would allow for reduced costs, improved promotion and less load on a permanent team of high-standard officials.
The KWG recommendations were approved by the MSA board in October 2020, after which time they were presented to the karting community for comment, as a result of which amendments were made to the stipulations around classes and age groups.
Despite much engagement with the proprietors of the Southern African Rotax Max Challenge karting series, and accommodation of their wishes around class absorption, MSA was unable to agree to SARMC’s request for the maintenance of eight separate national race weekends given the imperative for the reduction in costs through consolidation, and the maintenance of high standards both of competition and officials. For the sake of clarity, the combining of national championship events would see the Rotax and Rok classes running on separate days but on the same race weekend. MSA views such a scenario to be in the best interests of the sport.
It is most regrettable that the SARMC promoter could not see his way clear to supporting such a move which was made in the interests of reducing the costs for those competitors competing in both the Rotax and Rok series.
MSA considers karting to be an essential part of the motorsport community, one which should provide a nurturing, safe and cost-conscious platform for all competitors.
Building and governing motorsport requires teamwork, and invariably some give and take. MSA is run by a volunteer, unpaid board of directors elected by the membership, with a small (three-person) full-time management team. It is not motivated by commercial self-interest but rather the good of the wider motorsport community. In the interests of motorsport, and inclusivity, MSA remains willing to accommodate Rotax competitors at MSA-sanctioned events and regional and national championships.