The Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy (TGRJA) will start the second half of its 2023 MSA Northern Regions Rotax Karting Championship at Zwartkops Kart Raceway this weekend (June 10) after a successful first half that sees three of their six drivers topping their respective class championships. The academy also returns to the circuit that Toyota Gazoo South Africa considers home, with operations now based at the Zwartkops International World of Motoring facility.
In Mini MAX, Reagile Mailula is 15 points adrift of defending champion Caleb Odendaal and will need to narrow the gap. To achieve this, Mailula needs to win more races than Odendaal. During the opening round at the Pretoria circuit, Odendaal outscored Mailula in each heat, with the driver affectionately known as “Spice” finishing as the runner-up. Two further rounds saw Mailula take one victory, so Mailula must outscore his rivals to boost his chances of triumphing in the championship.
Fellow Mini MAX driver Emma-Rose Dowling is currently ranked sixth. Having not competed in the previous round, every championship point going forward will be crucial for her 2023 campaign. While she has yet to record a podium, several fourth-place results show how close she is to breaking into the top three.
It is all even at the top of the Junior MAX class, with the academy’s newest driver, Kent Swartz, in the hunt for championship glory. His previous visit to the Zwartkops circuit saw him record his maiden win, which he duly backed up with three consecutive victories at the next round. As a likely favourite to take the Round 4 honours, on-track rival Wian Boshoff will be his fiercest competitor as the two are set to go head-to-head again.
In Senior MAX, however, seasoned campaigner and class rookie KC Ensor-Smith has a firm grip on the class, having been victorious in all-but-one heat so far. With a 17-point margin over second-placed fellow academy driver Oleratu Sekudu, Ensor-Smith, the reigning national and regional Junior MAX champion, is determined to make it two consecutive seasons on top.
While stable-mate Sekudu has picked up the only other win in the class at the season-opening Zwartkops round, several podium finishes see him enjoy a 15-point margin over third-placed Ethan Bostander. During the previous round, the Ensor-Smith/Sekudu pairing brought home the team’s first one-two-round result. Sekudu will, however, have to be at his best this weekend if he intends to challenge Ensor-Smith.
DD2 driver Kian Grottis, who has accumulated the most points in the DD2 class, is ranked sixth, 21 points adrift of the leader. A race heat disqualification in the first round due to a technical infringement has cost him the overall championship lead. While competitors can exclude their three lowest-scoring heats, the rules do not allow for the exclusion of a disqualification. Grotis remains the driver with the most wins in class and will have to continue that form should he want to be crowned champion later this season.
Expect another exciting round of karting, with spectators welcome to attend, with entry free of charge. Race day commences with a Warm-Up Session, followed by Qualifying and three race heats.
Published by: Motorsport Fanatix
Picture Caption: KC Ensor Smith
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