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This past weekend, Diego Antunes impressed onlookers by transitioning from the Kid ROK class to the highly competitive Mini ROK class in just a few races. Having competed as a bambino in 2022, where he was crowned the MSA Northern Regions Bambino Champion, Antunes’ team made the decision to switch to Mini ROK ahead of the weekend’s fourth regional round.

The Mini ROK class remains one of the fiercest-contested classes in South African karting, despite the entries being lower than a few years ago. Nevertheless, it allows younger drivers to compete for a separate trophy with an under-ten (U/10) category.

Saturday saw Antunes qualify 11th overall but fourth in U/10 before finishing seventh overall and fourth in class to get his rookie campaign underway. In Heat 2, the Trevpar World-backed driver again finished fourth in class while claiming another top-ten result after a closely-fought battle at the rear of the field. In the final heat, Antunes would end fifth in class to cap off a courageous weekend as a newcomer to the field.

“We had very little expectation this weekend, knowing Diego would debut in a much faster kart among some seasoned drivers,” said Rui Antunes, Diego’s father. “By nature, he is very cautious, so we are patient with him, allowing him to get a feel for Mini ROK racing. This is all in preparation for the 2024 season. He did, however, impress us with his pace. He was within a second of the pole-position time this morning despite his slower race pace. That’s more down to the fact that he is racing others and is, again very cautious. But there are so many positives to draw from today. I’m very proud of him.”

Antunes will return for Round 3 of the national championship scheduled for 4-5 August at Killarney International Raceway in the Western Cape.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: Diego Antunes

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