TrevPar World Group-backed Diego Antunes ended his 2023 season in inspiring form, competing in the final Mini ROK round of the MSA Northern Regions ROK Karting Championships at Vereeniging Kart Circuit on 11 November 2023.
Antunes, who 12 months earlier completed his final Cadet season ahead of being crowned the 2022 MSA Northern Regions Champion, competed in the Kid ROK class for the first half of the season before stepping up to the quicker Mini ROK class for the remainder of 2023. While still only nine years old, Antunes competes in the category for under-10 drivers, implemented to make the transition from the Kid ROK class easier. However, the grid is combined with the under-10s and older drivers competing together.
Antunes started his day by qualifying in fifth (first in U/10) and found himself only 0.338 seconds off the national champion’s pole-setting time. In the opening heat, Antunes dropped to eighth before slowly working his way up to finish fifth (second in U/10), recording the third-quickest lap time of the race and 0,082 seconds off the quickest lap time.
Not known for making good starts, Antunes, who races out of the NBR Racing stable, dropped from third to ninth in Heat 2 but soon got his head down and put in some blistering lap times to make his way up to seventh at the midway mark. Over the second half of the race, he improved another two places to cross the finish line in fifth (third in U/10) whilst recording the second-quickest lap of the heat.
With that lap time, Antunes started his final heat from his highest starting position, in second. Making a good start this time, he managed to maintain his position briefly before being passed. After a few laps, a retirement up ahead saw him inherit second before moving into the lead of the race. Only able to hold that lead for two laps, Antunes, a rookie in the class with only a few months experience, narrowly missed out on the runner-up position, finishing third (first U/10) after he was passed on the final lap. His combined results would see him finish fourth overall and second in the under-ten division. He also set the fastest lap of the day for an under-ten competitor.
“What a day is all I can say,” said Antunes. “I was pretty nervous as usual at the starts, but we had some really great pace, as the time sheets will show. To start from the front row was also a daunting experience, but once the lights went out, I just held my line and pushed on. Thank you to everyone for their support this season. My team have been phenomenal, considering the changes we made mid-season. Thank you to Uncle Neil and Aubrey for preparing my kart and my family and friends for the constant support. It means so much. I am looking forward to next season.”
Antunes thanks TrevPar World Group, Cars.co.za, NBR Racing and Motorsport Fanatix and wishes everyone a happy festive season.
Published by: Motorsport Fanatix
Picture Caption: Diego Antunes
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