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Get ready for an action-packed weekend as the South Africa Rotax MAX Challenge comes to a compelling conclusion on 25-26 August. The final round will take place at the Zwartkops Kart Raceway, the home of karting in SA. The Rand Kart Club staff have been hard at work preparing for this final, and you can expect nothing but the best from the nation’s top karting competitors as they battle for the honours of being crowned a national champion.

In the Bambinos class (5-9 years), last season’s top rookies, Luhan De Wet (Gauteng) and Adriaan Steyn (Gauteng), are set to compete for the title, holding a significant lead over third-placed and top rookie Ronald Venter (Gauteng). While De Wet has taken five victories to Steyn’s three, it will likely be a winner-takes-all scenario on Saturday, with less than three points separating the two drivers.

In Micro MAX (7-11 years), defending champion Rafael Da Silva (Gauteng) leads out rookies Brodi Cooper Dowling (Gauteng) and Ronaldo Koen (Gauteng). In one of the more closely-competed classes, da Silva has had the upper hand taking five of the nine wins available. Despite a small buffer to the chasing Dowling, Da Silva could retain his crown without the added pressure of taking a win this weekend. Other drivers that could be in for a heat victory are Matthew Shuttleworth, Johan Nolte, Cristian Verheul, and Rafael De Sousa. The latter two have already won heats this season.

Defending Mini MAX Champion Caleb Odendaal (Eastern Cape) maintains a significant lead over his adversaries and will likely take back-to-back national championships without risking too much. In what seems like a battle for the runner-up position, third-placed Kegan Martin (Gauteng) is hot on the heels (or bumper, if you like) of second-placed Keagan Beaumont (Western Cape), with Martin likely to edge out Beaumont having the home-track advantage. The leading female driver, rookie Emma Rose Dowling (Gauteng), and seasoned driver Reagile “Spice” Mailula (Gauteng) could also upset the race day applecart in the competition for ages 9-13 years.

In what has become one of the fiercer classes (for ages 12- 14 years) to compete in this season, the Junior MAX trophy will see a new recipient, with reigning champion KC Ensor-Smith moving up to Senior MAX in 2023. With Jordon Wadeley (Western Cape), Amani Kinyua (Gauteng), Jonno Wilson (Gauteng), Georgia Lenaerts (Gauteng), and Mauro Da Luz (Gauteng) all separated by less than 19 points, the battle for the third overall position is all but a foregone conclusion. Championship honours will likely go to either Kent Swartz (Gauteng) or Wian Boshoff (Gauteng), with the two significantly ahead of the rest and split by less than five points.

Senior MAX (ages 14 and up) sees a pool of talented drivers competing for the national title, with KC Ensor-Smith (Gauteng) leading out Muhammad Wally (Gauteng), both of whom competed against one another in Junior MAX at the 2022 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF) held in Portugal last season. Troy Snyman (KZN) is currently third and is also a likely favourite to take a heat victory on race day. Defending champion Charl Visser (Western Cape) will not retain his title as he is currently ranked fifth, but will be looking to end his season on a high. The battle for third in the championship will be between Snyman, Visser, Ethan Bostander (Gauteng) and Olerato Sekudu (Gauteng).

In the premier DD2 class (2-speed gearbox with direct drive – no chain) for ages 15 years and above, multiple national karting champion Bradley Liebenberg (Gauteng) holds a commanding lead over defending champion Sebastian Boyd (Western Cape). With a 31-point buffer, Liebenberg practically has the championship sewn up barring any mishaps, with the runner-up position likely going to Boyd. After a stellar return season, DD2 Masters competitor Kyle Lawrence (Gauteng) finds himself third in the overall championship, but will have to fight off the challenge of an in-form Kian Grottis (Gauteng), ranked fourth. With an unsurmountable lead in the Masters class over Jonathan Pieterse (KZN), Lawrence has more than a hand on the national trophy.

Except for the Bambino champion, national champions (and the DD2 championship runner-up) will automatically receive an invitation to the RMCGFs, also known as the “Olympics of Karting.” The 2023 edition will take place for the second time at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, from 2-9 December 2023. In 2021 the South African team missed out on the event following the outbreak of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, which saw travel bans placed on African countries.

In the 22-year history of the event, South Africa still boasts the most RMCGF champions with 14 winners. Brothers Gavin (2000) and Mark Cronje (2002) were both early winners, along with Claudio Piazza-Musso (2001). Wesleigh Orr won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005, with Leeroy Poulter taking top honours in 2008. Caleb Williams was another South African driver to win consecutive finals doing so in 2009 and 2010. In 2016 a young Jayden Els won. However, no one has won more individual RMCGFs titles than Cristiano Morgado, who reeled in five (2004, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018). South Africa also won the Nations Cup in 2014 and continues to have a strong presence in motorsports, leading to successful careers for many.

So, make sure to take advantage of the excitement this Saturday. You can join us trackside at Zwartkops Raceway (entry is free) or watch the Rotax South Africa YouTube channel live stream by tapping on the link below.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: Luhan De Wet

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