Select Page

In just over a week, 383 competitors from over 60 countries will gather at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit for the 23rd edition of what is often referred to as the “Olympics of Karting.” South Africa will once again have representation across six classes, hoping to add to the 14 titles it has secured since the inaugural event in 2000.

South Africa has emerged as a powerhouse in karting, producing some of the most talented drivers in the world over the years. These extraordinary individuals have left an unforgettable mark on the South African and international motorsport stage, showcasing their skills, and challenging the world’s best. Many continue in the sport, preparing the next generation of champions.

South Africa, until 2022, remained the nation with the most RMCGF titles, with 14, but was surpassed by the United Kingdom (England, Wales, and Scotland combined) who have now achieved 15 titles. Gavin Cronje (MAX) was South Africa’s first winner at the inaugural event hosted in Puerto Rico, while Claudio Piazza-Musso (MAX) was a winner in 2001. Mark Cronje (MAX), brother to Gavin and father to Noah Cronje (2022 National Bambino Champion), won on home soil in 2003 when the finals were held at Zwartkops Kart Raceway. Wesleigh Orr, owner of WORR Motorsport, won back-to-back titles (RM1) in 2004 and 2005, while Leeroy Poulter, Team Principal of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy, claimed the DD2 title in 2008.

In 2010, Caleb Williams (MAX) took another title for the Rainbow Nation when the competition was hosted in Italy. South Africa’s youngest RMCGF winner remains Jayden Els, who won the Mini MAX title in 2016. Cristiano Morgado, however, will go down in history as one of the most successful finalists, becoming the first and only driver to win five titles in the history of the finals. Morgado claimed the first of his five titles in 2003 (MAX) while achieving a hat trick of DD2 Masters titles from 2011 to 2013 before prevailing again in 2018.

In 2014, South Africa also brought home the Nations Cup, awarded to the country with the best team result.

This year sees several South Africans making back-to-back appearances at the RMCGF, with the likes of Rafael da Silva (Micro MAX), Caleb Odendaal (Mini MAX), Wian Boshoff (Junior MAX), KC Ensor-Smith (Senior MAX) and Sebastian Boyd (DD2) all having competed in Portugal in 2022. Making their RMCGF debut are Reagile Mailula (Mini MAX), Kent Swartz (Junior MAX), Erich Heystek (Senior MAX), Kian Grottis (DD2) and Jamie Smith (DD2) while Kyle Lawrence (DD2 Masters) makes a return after several years.

While the RMCGF makes its second appearance in Bahrain, it will be Team South Africa’s first, having been forced to miss the event in 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Bahrain is also unique in that later sessions are run under lights.

The Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals is widely regarded as the most just and globally inclusive karting event. This is because all drivers are provided with sealed engines, and there are stringent controls in place for the chassis, tyres, and fuel. As a result, the winner of the competition is determined solely by the driver’s skill. The competition runs over 2 -9 December, and you can follow the team’s progress on the live timing link (available from 5 December).

A live-stream will also be available from 7 December on the link below.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption:: Team SA (2022)

MSA Publishes media releases from a host of different sources on our website as a service to the sport. It is not practically possible to vet/approve every release that is published. Some news items and articles are written by correspondents and do not necessarily represent MSA’s views.