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The Rotax MAX Challenge (RMC) African Open concluded at the Zwartkops Kart Raceway this past weekend and saw several Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy drivers triumph in their respective classes, earning entry to this year’s Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The African Open, now in its 13th year, did not disappoint, with the winner-takes-all format producing some exhilarating racing as drivers competed for the remaining South African entries to the ‘Olympics of Karting.’

Despite his best efforts, Kian Grottis missed out in the final of the premier DD2 class. Finishing sixth and fourth in the two preceding Pre-Final heats, Grottis battled it out with the top drivers in Africa, picking up a Nose-Cone Infringement Penalty (NCIP) in the final to be classified eighth.

2023 National Senior MAX Champion KC Ensor-Smith was looking to add another trophy to his list of karting accomplishments but came up short in the final, finishing as runner-up as the chequered flag dropped. An NCIP, however, would see the 2022 RMCGF finalist classified fourth. Fellow academy driver Olerato Sekudu endured a challenging weekend in comparison. Sekudu battled several issues and an NCIP in the two Pre-Final heats before retiring his kart in the final after only seven laps.

Kent Swartz doubled down, adding the African Open title to his 2023 National Junior MAX Championship. Winning Pre-Final-1 and then placing second in Pre-Final-2, Swartz secured the victory with a patient and calculated drive.

In the fierce Mini MAX class, Reagile Mailula triumphed in the all-important last heat. Recovering from an opening lap incident in Pre-Final-1 to finish fourth, followed by victory in Pre-Final-2, Mailula maintained a comfortable margin over his competitors to take the win and earn a ticket to the RMCGF. Fellow academy driver Emma-Rose Dowling consistently challenged for the podium in the Pre-Finals but finished fourth in the final heat.

The TGRJA has been incredibly successful, especially regarding their academy program. They have consistently produced champions at various levels of competition, and drivers and the academy alike have been rewarded with the opportunity to compete at the 2023 RMCGFs representing South Africa at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, from December 02-09, 2023.

TGRJA drivers representing South Africa at the RMCGF are Reagile Mailula (Mini MAX), Kent Swartz (Junior MAX) and KC Ensor-Smith (Senior MAX).

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: Reagile Mailula

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