Select Page

The penultimate round of the South African Rotax MAX Challenge Kart Championships, a truly diverse event, was held at Formula-K Raceway in Benoni this past weekend. It drew competitors from all corners of South Africa and drivers from Mozambique and Namibia. This championship, part of a four-round national competition, is where national champions are crowned and awarded national colours. These champions also earn a spot on the South African team to compete at the annual Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF), often referred to as the Olympics of Karting, scheduled to take place in Italy later this year.

Numerous academy drivers were in the running for championship honours entering this round, each facing their own set of challenges. They had to either consolidate their lead or win this round to keep their 2024 campaigns on course. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan for everyone this weekend, and some drivers will need some good fortune in the final round to have a realistic chance of competing for a championship.

Jason Coetzee held a narrow DD2 championship lead ahead of the weekend. Despite a solid start to his round that saw the Capetonian driver claim victory in the opening heat, his luck would change for the worse. After being involved in an incident on Lap 1 of Heat 2, he would find himself at the back of the field and forced to make up numerous positions for a strong points finish. While he worked his way back up to fifth by the end of the race, a five-second penalty for a nose-cone infringement would see him classified in 11th. To add further insult to injury, Coetzee would be excluded from the final heat’s results as he was deemed underweight on the scales. Fortunately, this result can be dropped, which bodes well for his championship.

Fellow academy driver and DD2 class rookie Karabo Malemela also had a challenging round, which started with a Heat 1 post-race penalty that added five seconds to his overall race time for a ninth-place finish. Ranked fourth in the championship ahead of the weekend, Malemela would put in his best performance in Heat 2, finishing fourth and narrowly missing out on a podium. It looked like he would improve on that result in the final heat, but Malemela was nudged off the track from third to finish ninth.

Despite snatching the pole position on Friday, Kent Swartz went winless this weekend. The Senior MAX driver would finish as the runner-up in the opening heat before almost taking the spoils in Heat 2. A post-race penalty would, however, drop the reigning Junior MAX Champion down to third. On his way to what looked like a third consecutive podium result, Swartz would move up and down the order. From second, he would drop to seventh before clawing his way back to fifth. Later, he would be spun around and fall back to ninth before having to fight again for position. When the laps ran out, he finished seventh, a testament to the intense competition.

Emma-Rose Dowling also endured a challenging round. Dowling finished sixth in the opening Junior MAX heat after a ninth-place start to record her weekend’s best result. Despite crossing the finish line in sixth for Heat 2, a technical infringement would see the academy’s only female driver excluded from the results and ruin any possibility of a decent result. Heat 3 would see her misfortune continue following her retirement from the race after only four laps.

Mini MAX championship leader Tshepang Shisinwana started his race day with a runner-up finish in the opening heat. However, he was involved in an accident on the final lap of Heat 2 that saw the former national champion seeking medical attention. Getting the all-clear to race again from the medical staff, Shisinwana would take victory in the final heat to end off an excellent points-scoring weekend.

While the fourth national round is scheduled for a grand finale at Zwartkops Kart Raceway on 30-31 August, the TGRJA will be back in action for Round 5 of the Northern Regions Rotax Kart Championships on 27 July.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: Tshepang Shisinwana

MSA Publishes media releases from a host of different sources on our website as a service to the sport. It is not practically possible to vet/approve every release that is published. Some news items and articles are written by correspondents and do not necessarily represent MSA’s views.