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Rafael de Sousa delivered a brilliant performance over the weekend, taking himself and his new team to the top in the Mini MAX category. Competing at the second national round of the South African Rotax MAX Challenge Kart Championship at Zwartkops Kart Raceway, the young driver of Portuguese descent took a brace of wins to claim the overall victory and move up in the championship standings.

Rafael consistently placed in the top five of the practice timesheets on Friday while recording the third-quickest time throughout the four sessions. Able to carry his pace into the afternoon’s qualifying, the Johannesburg youngster, racing out of the Stretto Racing stable, missed the pole position by 0.185 seconds.

Starting from the outside of the front row, Rafael demonstrated his racing intelligence by navigating a potential opening heat incident. He tactically positioned himself in second place, trailing the leader for several laps. Then, at Turn 5 on Lap 8, he executed a well-calculated pass, only to surrender the lead at the same turn two laps later. Undeterred, he made a precisely timed move at the final turn on the penultimate lap, reclaiming the lead and securing the first of his two wins on the day.

Heat 2 saw Rafael start from the pole and lead out the 22-kart field for the start of another 12-lap heat. However, it took only a short time for him to come under attack and lose the lead and later second position. Battling for second, the leader opened up a significant margin but was eliminated from the race at the penultimate corner after tangling with a backmarker, giving Rafael his second win on the day.

The final heat saw Rafael start from third but take the lead out of Turn 1. He again came under attack quickly and was passed by two drivers to run in third. As he negotiated Turn 1, the pair ahead squabbled, slowed up, and left Rafael with nowhere to go but into the rear of the driver ahead. By Lap 3, he lost another position as the pace hotted up, and the competition for victory became more frantic. He, however, regained third as they started the fourth lap. While he recorded several quick laps, it wasn’t enough to close the gap to the two ahead, and Rafael took the chequered flag in third before the early race contact saw him receive a five-second penalty for a nose-cone infringement and classified in seventh.

Rafael thanks his team, his family, friends, officials, and marshals for a spectacular event. Round 3 of the championship resumes on 5-6 July.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: Rafael de Sousa

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