This weekend the ROK cup kicked off the MSA National series with their first race of the season, hosted at Celso Scribante Short Circuit in Quebergha. It’s been a few seasons since the ROK has raced at the infamous Celso Scribante circuit making for a fresh start to the season for 2023.
Celso Scribante Short Circuit is one of the most popular karting circuits in South Africa. Located in Port Elizabeth, it has been a staple in the karting community since it was first established in the 1970s. The circuit has undergone many changes over the years, but its commitment to providing a safe and exciting racing experience has remained constant.
Friday practice was well attended at the track with lots of testing and setup fine tuning happening in pits all over. The weather was cloudy and windy with hints of rain always present. When all was said and done on Friday, the abrasive track had eaten some tyres and tired drivers looked to the sky as they left wondering if the rolling in storm would mean it would be a wet race on race day. The rain subsided by 5am on Saturday morning and a bright pink sunrise kicked off the day, with karters digging in on to clear some standing water on the track.
Each class had one final testing session in the morning before qualification, then race tyres were fitted, marshals were ready and the track was clear, time to qualify and race!
Cadet kicked off the first qualification of the ROK classes for the day.
Luhan de Wet secured pole position with a time of 1:06.786 on his second lap, just .628 behind him was Kyle Bezuidenhot setting a time of 1:07.414 on his 6th lap. Ronald Venter who qualified in third place with a time of 1:08.414 but was still on pace to compete.
Race 1: Kyle Bezuidenhot took the lead on the first lap and went on to win the race, Ronald Venter came in second 8 seconds behind the leader, with Luhan De Wet finishing the race a lap down. Luhan set the fastest lap of the race on lap five with a time of 1:07.324, trying to recover from a bad start.
In Race 2, De Wet was back in front, leading every lap to take the race win and fastest lap. Bezuidenhot came in second and Ronald took the final step on the podium.
De Wet took their second victory of the day, again alone out front, and again setting a race fastest lap. Bezuidenhot manage to get past Venter on the start and went on to take second place with Venter in third.
De Wet won the day by 3 points with Bezuidenhout in second and Venter in third, three points behind Bezuidenhot.
KID ROK CLASS
Logan Billau (Tony Kart) qualified on pole with a time of 56.324 on his fourth lap, Noah Cronje (Tony Kart) came in second with a time of 56.903 and Kayde Cornofsky (CRG) in third with a time of 56.922. The rest of the grid was made up by Diego Antunnes (Parolin), Bophelo Molatlhegi (Kart Republic), Riley Van Staden (RS), Dylan Bezuidenhot (Ricciardo), Logan Roehrig (Lando Norris), Zac Boshoff (Exprit) who had his best time removed for a Nose Cone infringement, and Omolemo Mfana (Kart Republic) closed out the grid.
In the first race Billau took a convincing win out front, with his closest competitor Cronje in second place 10 seconds behind. The final step of the podium was Cornofsky, .406 behind. Cornofsky briefly got in front of Cronje on the lap 8 but Cronje got the place back the very next lap. Bezuidnehot got past Molatlhegi on the penultimate lap to take 4th with Molatlhegi in 5th. The final places were Boshoff, Antunnes, van Staden, Mfana, and Roehrig respectively.
Race 2 Billau again took a convincing win out front. But it was behind him that all the action was taking place. Cronje, starting fifth made good progress through the field to bring his kart home in second place, with a photo finish, one thousand of a second (!) in front of Cornofsky.
Race 3 was underway, Billau again was alone out front, followed by Cornofsky and Boshoff getting his first podium of the day.
Billau won the day convincingly followed closely by Cronje 7 points behind and Cornofsky in third. Boshoff was fifth with Antuness and Van Staden tied on 80 points behind him. The final places made up by Molatlhegi, Roehrig, Bezuidnehot, Mfana.
MINI ROK CLASS
The packed Mini Rok class is always one of the favourite classes on the day and this race day was no exception. Qualifying had all the karts out on track except some of the team drivers, held back in the parc ferme by their team, in an effort to save tyres, and then released onto the track with a few minutes to go.
Jack Moore (Lando Norris) qualified on pole with a time of 54.257. In second place, one tenth behind was Mattao Mason (CRG) using only 2 laps to set his qualification time of 54.389. In third was Joshua Moore (Lando Norris) with a time of 54.576. The rest of the grid was made up by; Mason, A (Lando Norris), Moss (CRG), Human (Tony Kart), Jurgens, Danks (Ricciardo), Petel (Parolin), Nkomo (Lando Norris), Dowling (CRG), Nagura (Lando Norris), Blignaut (CRG), Goodman (Exprit), Mason, M (CRG) who had his best time deleted for nose cone infringement, Shisinwana (Kart Republic), Boshoff (Exprit) and Ferreira (Ricciardo) respectively.
Race 1, Mason #28 was close behind Moore #31 from the lights out and got the overtake done on the 7th lap to take the top step of the podium and fastest lap in the first Mini Rok race of the day. Moore #31 took second, 0.3 seconds behind, with his brother Moore #17 taking third. Mason #64, Human, Dowling, Jurgens, Nagura, Nkomo, Mason #29, Boshoff took places 4 to 11 respectively. Patel finished the race in 12th with a 5 second penalty, followed by Shisinwana, and Bliganaut who also received a 5 second penalty for a nose cone infringement, and Ferreira in 15th. Moss and Goodman were out on the first lap and did not compete any further in the first race. Danks was disqualified on a technical infringement so did not collect any points.
At 3pm it was time for Race 2, Moss bounced back from his incident in race 1, starting third and making a place on the start and another on lap 4 to get out in front and bring it home for a victory and the fastest lap. Moore #31 and Moore #17 took the remaining steps on the podium for race two after Moore #31 got past his brother on the penultimate lap of the race. The rest of the grid crossed the line as follows; Mason, Human, Mason and Nkomo who had a great battle for 6th and 7th, Nagura, Patel, Blignaut – who received a Nose Cone Infringement penalty, Mason; Boshoff – who also received a Nose Cone Infringement, Goodman, Jurgen, Ferreira; Shisinwana – who also received a nose cone infringement, and Danks. Dowling was out on lap 4 and did not finish the race.
In Race 3 it was still all to play for, with some hard racing and aggressive moves as drivers jostled to get the final points for the day. Moss led the race from start to finish to take his second victory of the day, and again sealed the deal with the fastest lap of the race. Mason #28 got a place on the start to run the race in second place, when a lap 4 incident with Moore #31, earned him a driving conduct five place grid penalty, leaving Mason #28 to finish in 7th for race 3 but still enough for him to win the day. Moore #31 finished in 16th, meaning he finished the day in fifth position 9 points off the winner, but took the event lap record as a consolation prize. In the jostling for position Blignaut seized the opportunity, making two places on the start to finish third, promoted to second after penalties above were applied. Mason #64 also seized the opportunity of the fights in front, starting 7th, Mason lost a place on the start but then got it back on lap 4 and then got past Human (who received a nose cone penalty to finish in 6th) on lap 9 to secure his first podium step of the day. Behind was Moore #17, Nagura, Human, Mason #28, Dowling, Mason #29, Jurgen, Boshoff, Patel, Nkomo, Goodman, Shisinwana, Moore #31, Ferreira. Danks passed the start but unluckily did not make it any further.
Mason #28 won the day with 90 points, beating Moore #17 by just one point, the final step on the podium was Moss with 83 points. The rest of the field finished; Human, Moore #31; Mason #64 finished 6th but took the Mini Rok U/10 top step, Nagura, Blignaut, Mason, Nkomo, Jurgens, Patel, Boshoff, Dowling, Shisinwana, Goodman, Ferreira, and Danks. The Mini ROK class delivered again with exciting racing and lots of action!
MSA, with generous funding assistance from the FIA brought 20 FIA Academy engines obtained through FTW Motorsport to be used as ‘pool’ engines in the OKJ class in this year’s ROK National Karting Championship. Derick Irving Racing worked tirelessly and meticulously to prepare the engines and ensure the OKJ class was about driving skill alone. The entry list of OKJ was finalized and the scene was set for the juniors to race. First up, qualifying.
Naidoo (Kart Republic) qualified on pole with a 49.946, followed by Moerat (Kart Republic) who had some trouble in the practice pulled it together when it counted with a time of 49.981, three hundredths of a second behind first place. Third place was Marshal (Tony Kart) just four hundredths of a second behind second place with a time of 50.023. The seven hundredths of a second between first place and third were a testament to the pool engine theory and the preparation work, four tenths of second between the first and eighth qualifying position, pool engines delivered a stellar qualifying, lets race! The rest of the grid was Mabunda (Kart Republic), Khoza (Kart Republic), Boshoff (Praga), Dias (Kart Republic), Mabunda (Kart Republic), Roos (Ricciardo), Hill (RS), Tait (Tony Kart), and Maphumulo (Kart Republic).
In Race 1 Moerat took the lead at the start and stayed out front to win the race, followed by Naidoo in second. Mabunda #23 started 4th and lost a place at the start only to take it back on lap 4 and get past Boshoff on lap 10 to finish in third and take the fastest lap of the race. The final places were Marshal, Boshoff, Mabunda, Hill making up three places on the first lap, Dias; Khoza who received a 5 second nose cone infringement, Roos, Maphumulo and Tait respectively.
Mabunda #23 won the second race, followed by Boshoff who started fifth, made up two places at the start and one more on lap two to finish the race in second. Marshal who started 4th had a bad start to the race and lost two places to 6th but by lap 4 was in fourth and when Moerat went off in front on Lap 7, took the final step on the podium. Behind Marshal was Naidoo who set the fastest lap of the race, 50.462, followed by Mabunda #29, Dias, Hill, Maphumulo, Khoza, Roos, and Tait. Moerat had a DNF.
Moerat started third in the third race, making a place on the start, then got into a battle with Naidoo, getting past him on lap 6 only for Naidoo to take it back on lap 7, but an incident on lap 11 sent Naidoo tumbling down to fourth leaving the track clear for Moerat to take the win. Boshoff finished second, after losing some places in the course of the race was ready to pounce when incidents happened in front, jumping from 4th to 2nd on the last lap. Marshal crossed the line third but a nose cone infringement meant he finished the race 6th and Naidoo was promoted from his fourth to third. The rest of the grid was; Mabunda #23 who set the fastest lap of the race and was running as high as second was also involved in an incident and crossed the line 5th promoted to 4th following applied penalties above, next was Hill, Marshal, Mabunda #29, Dias, Maphumulo; Khoza who received a nose cone infringement; Roos who received a nose cone infringement and 5 place penalty for driving conduct, and Tait who unfortunately had a DNS.
Mabunda #23 won the day with 94 points, followed by Boshoff two points behind and Naidoo 1 point behind him in third. Followed by Naidoo, Moerat, Marshal, Mabunda #29, Hill, Dias, Maphumulo, Khoza, Roos, and Tait.
The OK-N class is a new class introduced by the FIA to simplify karting and increase exposure. Read more about it here. This was the first National race in the world for OK-N and all eyes were on track to see how the qualifying went.
Vostanis (Lando Norris) qualified on pole with a time of 49.758 followed by Zafiris (OTK) 2 tenths of a second behind to take the second gird position and Naidoo three tenths behind to get the third grid spot, then came Nel (Kosmic) with a time of 50.206 and Bezuidenhot (Tony Kart) with a time of 50.417.
In Race 1 Vostanis took the win, leading from start to finish, with fastest lap of the race to boot. Zafiris was second followed by Bezuidenhout to close out the podium. Unfortunately Nel was a DNS and Naidoo who was running in second for the first two laps and crossed the line third was DQ for missing weight.
Race 2 was Vostanis in front again for the duration, and again with the fastest lap. Second place was Zafiris, followed by Nel for the top three positions. Bezuidenhout finished fourth. After running as high as second on the first lap with Nadioo just behind.
Vostatnis made it three for three as he took home a clean sweep of victories and fastest laps for each of the three races. The rest of the grid finished in the same order as the starting grid, with tyres now severely lacking grip, there was not much room for passing and it was a formation flying finish, with Zafiris in second, Nel in third, Bezuidenhout in fourth, and Nadioo in fifth.
Vostanis took the win of the day and the first National win of an OK-N class in the world. Zafiris came in second with 96 points, followed by Bezuidenhout on 88 points in third and Nel and Naidoo in fourth and fifth respectively.
A huge congratulations to all the OK-N competitors for being on the cutting edge of motorsport and taking the challenge to learn a new engine and setup which should stand them in good stead for the first world cup next year, and one last mention of Naidoo who came to the race never having practiced in an OK-N and doing it as his second class of the day showed great determination and skill.
Last but not least was the big boys, the KZ2 shifters. Although there were only four entries to this race, the abrasive texture of the track possibly keeping some other drivers away, everyone came to the fence to watch; the speed and excitement.
In Qualifying Roos, fresh from his overseas racing put his Parolin on pole dipping into the sub 49s for the first time of the day, with a time of 48.486, using only two laps to do it. Naidoo (Ricciardo) came in 5 tenths behind with a 49.055, followed by Olivier (RS) with a time of 49.1119 and De Beer in fourth with a 51.426.
Time for the first standing start of the day! Roos led from start to finish to bring it home for P1 in the first race and fastest lap. Olivier was second having won a place at the start, followed by Naidoo on the last step of the podium. De Beer finished fourth.
In race 2 it was again Roos out front, followed by Olivier and De Beer who made up a place when Nadioo went out on the eighth lap.
Ready for the final race of the day, Naidoo was up for the challenge, starting fourth he showed he was here to race, making up a place on the start, another on lap 2 and into the lead by lap 3, perhaps having looked after his tyres better than the rest of the pack. Second was Roos who lost a place on the start and another on lap 2 was back in second by lap 4 where he finished the race, just 3 tenths behind. Third was De Beer who got past Olivier on lap 8. Olivier, perhaps with some technical or tyre issue finished fourth.
Roos won the day with 102 points followed by Olivier on 93 in second, Naidoo in his second call of the day with 90 points in third and just missing the podium by one point was De Beer in fourth on 89 points.
A huge thank you to the marshals and officials who ran the racing efficiently and safely to ensure fair competition to all. And they looked good doing it, all the while with smiles on the faces and energetically waving flags when required, rescuing karts and karters alike from the racetrack. A big thank you to the AKMC for hosting the ROK cup, the track looked immaculate with green grass and fresh kerbs! And finally to the mechanics and pit crew that make it all possible.
Published by: Rok Cup Media
Picture Caption: Mini Rok Class Ready to Race
Photography by: Zeppelin Media
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