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Senior MAX rookie Brandon van der Walt endured a challenging opening national round of the MSA South African Rotax MAX Challenge with a record 22-driver line-up at iDube Raceway, KZN, on 3-4 March.

With only two national rounds to his name, both during the 2022 season, Van der Walt arrived in Camperdown for his first national competition at the one-kilometre circuit. Friday would be marred by a few technical gremlins that would see the Pretoria driver miss several practice sessions. When he did make it onto the circuit, however, his times, while still respectable for a rookie and within a second of the pace setters, would see him outside of the top 10. Knowing that a few tenths could make all the difference, the team tried to fine-tune the setup ahead of Saturday’s qualifying.

With a qualifying shootout format, that sees Senior MAX competitors only complete one flying lap, Van der Walt battled an underpowered engine that would see him start 1.5 seconds off the front. From 20th on the grid, the Ice Motorsport driver made up four positions to finish in 16th, while in Heat 2, he finished in 18th after receiving a nose-cone infringement penalty. His final race would be his best result, with a 15th-place finish.

“Not quite the weekend we had in mind,” said Van der Walt. “It seemed to all go wrong on Friday with the team trying to find the cause of what would turn out to be an electrical issue. By Saturday morning, we were hopeful of a good qualifying, but I felt a decrease in power up the hills, which then set us back again. That issue continued through Heat 1, where I was helpless to defend down the straights. The second Heat, someone braked in front of me, causing the bumper to drag on the ground and later saw me receive a penalty. Things went much better in Heat 3, but I have some work to do to improve. I have set myself goals and have to keep at them if I want to be successful.”

Van der Walt thanks everyone for the support this weekend and returns to the circuit in less than a week for the second round of the MSA Northern Regions Regional Karting Championships held at the Formula-K Kart Circuit, Benoni.

Published by:  Motorsport Fanatix – Raymond Cornwell

Picture Caption:  Brandon van der Walt

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