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KC Ensor-Smith’s Investchem Formula 1600 Championship bid got off to a strong start at the weekend, with the 2023 rookie claiming third overall at Killarney International Raceway. South Africa’s premier single-seater class took to the Western Cape circuit for its opening round in warm and windy conditions as part of the National Extreme Festival tour that makes two stops in Cape Town.

Ensor-Smith was confident heading into Saturday’s qualifying session after topping the timesheets in most of Friday’s practice sessions. Overnight rain had also added an element of the unknown, with drivers opting to qualify on slicks rather than chance wet weather tyres on a drying surface. The Witbank teenager recorded the third quickest time to start the opening race from the second row.

Despite a slow start from the pole-sitter, Jagger Robertson, Ensor-Smith was forced to drive around his competitor before fending off the challenge of Jason Coetzee into Turn 2. The multiple-karting champion then set off after fellow 2022 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finalist Shrien Naidoo before coming up short to take the runner-up position.

In the second race, he demonstrated his pace again by briefly taking the lead. Content to sit behind the leader, Ensor-Smith bided his time as the laps counted down. Suddenly and without warning, the engine cut out before starting up again, causing him to lose two places. While the two drivers behind managed to avoid a collision, Ensor-Smith could not close the gap sufficiently to launch an attack to reclaim the lost positions. He finished fourth.

“Despite finishing third overall, I am somewhat disappointed that we couldn’t capitalise on our strong pace here. We had the speed and the car to win today, but the second race calamity ruined any chances of that. Regardless, the team did great, and I must thank them. Thank you also to the Killarney faithful who supported us today,” stated Ensor-Smith.

The next round of the championship is set for an exciting return to the iconic Kylami Grand Prix Circuit on 12-13 April 2024.

KC is supported by African Heating, Vitro Frameless, Master Stairs and Sparco.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: KC Ensor-Smith

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